All the references, lovingly collated


Dylan said it first... (29.42)

Bobby: If it helps, Dylan said it first and best: "he not busy being born…”

Taylor: “…Is busy dying.”

Bobby: Yeah. So I'm choosing the former.

"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan and first released on his 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. It was written in the summer of 1964, first performed live on October 10, 1964, and recorded on January 15, 1965. Described by Dylan biographer Howard Sounes as a "grim masterpiece," the song features some of Dylan's most memorable lyrical images. Among the well-known lines sung in the song are "He not busy being born is busy dying," "Money doesn't talk, it swears," "Although the masters make the rules, for the wisemen and the fools" and "But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked." The lyrics express Dylan's anger at what he sees as the hypocrisy, commercialism, consumerism, and war mentality inherent in contemporary American culture. Dylan's preoccupations in the lyrics, nevertheless, extend beyond the socio-political, expressing existential concerns, touching on urgent matters of personal experience. 

Dylan has stated that "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" is one of his songs that means the most to him, and he has played the song often in live concerts. Since its original release on Bringing It All Back Home, live versions of the song have been issued on The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964, Concert at Philharmonic Hall, Before the Flood and Bob Dylan at Budokan. Dylan can also be seen performing the song in the film Dont Look Back and the video of the HBO special Hard to Handle. The song has been covered by a number of other artists, including Roger McGuinn, the Byrds, Billy Preston, Hugo Race, Terence Trent D'Arby, Mick Farren, Caetano Veloso, Marilyn Scott, and The Duhks.