In The Time of My Confession, In the Hour of my Deepest Need
"That was an inspired song that came to me. I felt like I was just putting down words that were coming from somewhere else, and I just stuck it out."
In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair
Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay
I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand
I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer’s dream, in the chill of a wintry light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face
I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand
Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/every-grain-sand#ixzz3KPGlhkD8
There are few that disagree with the premise that something great happened when this song was penned by Dylan in 1980. A great way to measure "greatness" is to look at how many others cover or imitate the original. Does it matter if something is great? I believe it does, simply because there is enough mediocrity everywhere but that never takes us to a place of inspiration. More than ever today we need inspiration because we are surrounded by so many tempting yet empty distractions that threaten to quench the imagination and destroy creative excellence!
This video below is a live recording of the song taken from a concert by Bob Dylan in Paris in 1984. In spite of the different approach to playing the song and the audience feedback the core emotional impact of the music and the lyrics remain, as if it didn't matter where or how they were played. This is the mark of great art, it is never divested of its power to provoke and cause wonder!
Throughout Dylan's musical odyssey from the first time he appeared in New York venues back in the 50's he has had his critics and detractors at every stage of his progress as an artist. He always replied when asked, "What else can i do but try to inspire people!" It was always as simple as that but people couldn't and still can't resist looking for something else, as if he had been lying to them or trying to deceive them.
Dylan has been a mysterious figure because he chooses to shroud himself with a certain level of ambiguity in order to maintain a distance between himself and those that try to lay his life bare. It doesn't matter what people think of him as a person so much, ultimately, what does matter is what has he accomplished in his creative life. Upon close scrutiny, it is clear there are few other artists that come close to what he has done. More than 50 compilations of recorded studio and live music place him in the same category of creative "iconoclast" or "juggernaut" like Frank Zappa or Neil Young. He is one of the few who truly has influenced "generations," not just a generation.
All through this song Dylan paints a picture of two paths and the torment and temptation of which one to take. It is a song about all of us just as much as it is about him ... it is universal in its message of "choice." The whole song is about life as a journey and the decisions we make along the way and the reminder that there is always a price to pay for the choices we make. In verse four the tender humanity of his lyrics is poignantly expressed; "I gaze into the doorway of temptations angry flame and every time i pass that way i always hear my name." Everyone can identify with this intense human struggle with temptation, to say "no" and to do what is "right" according to "good conscience."
Dylan has used many biblical passages in this song yet the message isn't accusative, condemning or exclusive but rather a sincere and honest reflection of the human condition with all its complexity, wonder, tragedy and quest for redemption. It is a tender invitation to reflect on who we are and where we are going.
Dylan seemed to return to his Jewish "roots" after his apparent tryst with "Christianity" but he has always used religious symbols and imagery in his poetry. It is hard to know where Dylan is at today and due to a thought provoking yet frank interview he gave with CBS not long ago, (click here to watch) it seems as if he made a deal with the "devil" and is still performing regularly in order to keep to the terms of the "bargain" made. Yet, regardless of how things appear on the surface, it is as Dylan says, "the press doesn't judge me, God is the judge" and that is a fact. No matter how you attempt to explain his influence on the 20th and now 21st Century culture, he is a "force of nature."
I've been inspired by Dylan for a long time but "Every Grain of Sand" will always hold a special place in my life and in particular the beautifully haunting harmonica solo on the original studio recording. No-one does it quite like Bob!