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jackboots

Every Grain of Sand

Bob Dylan / Rich Coffey

In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet floods every newborn seed
There's a dying voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and the morals of despair
Don't have the inclination to look back on my mistakes
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.

We all must seek the answers in our quest to find
Purpose to our fleeting lives: our inner peace of mind 
For without it we are nothing, just a twinkle of the eye
We must leave the world a better place before we say our last goodbye.

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beams 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'll always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

We all must seek the answers in our quest to find
Purpose to our fleeting lives: our inner peace of mind 
For without it we are nothing, just a twinkle of the eye
We must leave the world a better place before we say our last goodbye.

(Bone Solo)

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 fragility of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

More than a momentary flicker lost in a darkened sky
From dust to dust forgotten from birth until we die
Stay purposeful and driven, we need to understand
The waves of time will one day wash away each grain of sand…

(Fade Out on Bone Solo)

Music, Additional Lyrics, Vocals: Rich Coffey
Recorded at Mistura Productions


Lyrics:
What an absolutely brilliant and powerful song -- Dylan is such a master of words! A heartfelt confession of troubled spiritual doubt yet redemptive in his sense of wonder and awe at nature's beauty, IMHO Every Grain of Sand is one of the most moving lyrics Dylan has ever written.

It's interesting that Dylan wrote this line of lyrics for the recording:

"I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand."

...yet chooses these words instead to sing live:

"I am hanging in the balance of a perfect finished plan
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand."

To me, this is indicative of his evolving acceptance of the grace of God and his personal earned/assured peace of mind regarding his place in the world.

I opted for a different phrase at that spot:

"I am hanging in the balance of the fragility of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand."

...suggesting someone more unsure of mankind's future and the long-term consequences of our impact on Earth.

The "call to action" responses I have added to the verses (indented) deal with our own personal self-reflection and the often painful realization of our pitifully small place in the grandeur of the universe. I wrote an alternate set of words for the last two lines (both imply a similar message - I chose to record the "waves of time" version) :

"Capturing the moment - we must stake our claim in time
And shape the world around us - that's all we'll leave behind…"

I am not sure if Dylan had even thought of this connection but the first letter of the song title: "Every Grain of Sand" spells EGOs -- an uncanny coincidence for sure...

(Note: there a a couple of spots where the sung lyric doesn't match the written - the written is the preferred lyric)

Music Details:
I first became acquainted with this song when I compiled the Bob Dylan page for the "Sensing the Sacred in the Secular" section. The lyrics are awesome but—IMHO—the tune was a little lacking. As I have done on the other cover songs: I "reworked it a bit."

The first line of the short B sections of the verses (italized) were reharmonized and I wrote the additional call to action responses to the verses (indented). Lastly of course is the jazzier chord types (add9, m9, etc.) throughout. Further details on the arrangement »  (NOTE: this will appear in a new window/tab)

Live performance coming soon...