5 Great Versions of Bob Dylan’s "When the Ship Comes In"

1. Bob Dylan on August 28, 1963 as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At the same event, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.  delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

YouTube – Bob Dylan 1963-08-28 (Washington DC) When the Ship Comes In

2. Peter, Paul and Mary on June 14, 1967 for the opening song of a live concert on Australian TV. “Brought to you by the good people at British Petroleum.”

YouTube – Peter Paul and Mary – When the Ship Comes In

3. Bob Dylan with Keith Richards and Ron Woods on July 13, 1985 for Live Aid

YouTube – When the ship comes in – Bob Dylan, K. Richard and R. Wood

4. The Clancy Brothers on October 16, 1992 for Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

YouTube – The Clancy Brothers – When The Ship Comes In

5. Marcus Carl Franklin who portrays Wood Guthrie in the 2007 Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There

YouTube – I’m not there – When the ship comes in

Note and lyrics after the jump.

When the Ship Comes In” is a song by Bob Dylan, released on his 3rd studio album The Times They Are a-Changin’ in 1964. Joan Baez stated in the documentary film No Direction Home that “When the Ship Comes In” was, more or less, inspired by a hotel clerk that refused to allow Dylan a room due to his “unwashed” appearance (he was not famous outside of the folk movement at this time). The song then grew into a sprawling epic allegory about vanquishing the oppressive “powers that be”. Another inspiration was the Bertold Brecht/Kurt Weil song, “Jenny the pirate’s bride”. (Wikipedia)

When the ship comes in by

Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathin’.
Like the stillness in the wind
Before the hurricane begins,
The hour that the ship comes in.

Then the sea will split
And the ships will hit
And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking.
Then the tide will sound
And the waves will pound
And the morning will be breaking.

The fishes will laugh
As they swim out of the path
And the seagulls they’ll be a-smilin’.
And the rocks on the sand
Will proudly stand,
The hour that the ship comes in.

And the words that are used
For to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they’re spoken.
For the chains of the sea
Will have busted in the night
And be buried on the bottom of the ocean.

A song will lift
As the mainsail shifts
And the boat drifts on to the shoreline.
And the sun will respect
Every face on the deck,
The hour that the ship comes in.

Then the sands will roll
Out a carpet of gold
For your weary toes to be a-touchin’.
And the ship’s wise men
Will remind you once again
That the whole wide world is watchin’.

Oh the foes will rise
With the sleep still in their eyes
And they’ll jerk from their beds and think they’re dreamin’.
But they’ll pinch themselves and squeal
And they’ll know that it’s for real,
The hour that the ship comes in.

And they’ll raise their hands,
Sayin’ we’ll meet all your demands,
But we’ll shout from the bow your days are numbered.
And like Pharaoh’s tribe,
They’ll be drownded in the tide,
And like Goliath, they’ll be conquered.

For Lori Aguiar, a friend and former colleague at the American Sail Training Association.

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Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

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