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Song Analysis

In: English and Literature

Submitted By hunnybare85
Words 1465
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Bob Dylan - "Maggie's Farm" I chose this song because it is a classic Dylan song; it reflects his poetic style and how he wanted to make music, write songs, and experiment because it's what he wanted to do, and if it upset people, then so be it. I believe that the meaning of this song is that Dylan was a worker for his fans, the record company, the press, and the media but not for himself, and that he was going to break away from being pigeonholed into one genre of music and do what he felt like doing. Music wise, this song represents a strong change in Dylan's style. Up until the mid 60's, Dylan was strictly known as a folk singer and songwriter. His music usually composed of an acoustic guitar and a harmonica and occasionally another instrument here or there. This song represents Dylan's change to an electric rock sound, but still stayed true to his folk and blues roots. The music of this song has a very bluesy feel to it which may represent the working that he describes. The lyrics to "Maggie's Farm" go along perfect with Dylan's sudden change of sound. I believe that "Maggie" was intended to represent the people who listened to his music. He says that in the morning he would "pray for rain", which could have symbolized that he doesn't want to have to work, and that he had "a head full of ideas that are drivin' me insane". I feel that this represents that he wasn't able to break free and truly express himself. He also says "it's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor" which I think means that all he does is do the same thing over and over again for the same people, and they don't want to hear any of his newer ideas for songs. I think that "Maggie's brother" represented the record company he worked for or promoters/executives. They were the ones who paid him and in the song he says "he hands you a nickel he hands you a dime he asks you with a grin if you're havin' a good time". I think this also means that the record company and executives didn't really care if he was having a good time or not as long as he was doing what he was supposed to. Dylan also said that "he fines you every time you slam the door" which could mean that any time he does something he's not supposed to, he gets in trouble with the record company and executives. I believe that "Maggie's pa" represents the press and reporters that Dylan had to put up with. He said "he puts his cigar out in our faces just for kicks", and Dylan was known for often being tormented by the press. Maybe he felt that they didn't care about him as long as they were getting what they wanted for their own entertainment, as well as for the people that read or watched news about him. I believe that "Maggie's ma" represents the media in general. He said that "she talks to all the servants about man and God and law" which could reflect that the media is somewhat preachy to everyone. He also says that "she's sixty-eight, but she says she's twenty-four" which could also reflect that people believe most of the things the media puts out even if it's not true. He also said "she's the brains behind pa", and the press, reporters, and media all sort of fit together. At the end of the song he says "I try my best to be just like I am but everybody wants you to be just like them, they say sing while you slave and I just get bored, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more". This basically throws out how Dylan really feels, and that he wants to be himself and experiment with his music, but his fans, and everyone else doesn't want him to, they want him to do the same thing over and over. When I looked up other peoples' analysis of the meaning of this song, they had sort of the basic idea I had, but they didn't really go in depth about who Maggie's relatives represented. In a blog about Bob Dylan songs, Anthony Ling wrote that he felt that "Maggie's farm" represented "the Man" or some kind of authority figure (Ling), which I also felt was true. He also said, "the song is so powerfully about sticking it to The Man and being a rebel in a straight jacketing society that anybody can ascribe their own particular plight to the narrator of the song. What's remarkable, too, is that Dylan could very well have had his own travails in mind when he wrote the song; maybe some of that bitterness hadn't quite worn away yet" (Ling). I agree with what Ling said, this song can relate to everybody, but it also was very personal to Dylan. I believe that how Dylan chose to use "Maggie's Farm" was also very important. When he played the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 he played "Maggie's Farm" first on his set. And his new electric sound did not go over well at all (Shelton). People were booing him and yelling "Play folk music!", "Sell out!", "This is a folk festival!", "Get rid of that band!" (Shelton). His decision to play electric music and open his set with "Maggie's Farm" at a folk festival was a way for him to show everyone that he was for real, and that he was done being what everyone else wanted him to be. "Newport didn't expect the darling of the folk revival, Bob Dylan, to abandon his purist roots. When Dylan strode onstage with an electric guitar, the audience was startled at the sight. When he plugged in, chaos erupted" (The Bob Dylan Scrapbook). I feel that "Maggie's Farm" is a song that we can all relate to. There is always something that's going to keep us down, but we all have the freedom to change things if we need to go a separate path. I also feel that this song related more to Bob Dylan based on my assumptions as to who Maggie and her relatives were. I also thought it was really cool that Dylan was sort of protesting against the protesters, since a lot of folk music had to do with protesting at the time. He chose to use his freedom and independence to break away from Maggie and her relatives and make the music he wanted to make. "It was, to Dylan, 'all music, no more, no less'" (Shelton).

Works Cited
Ling, Anthony. "Bob Dylan Song #50: Maggie's Farm." Every Bob Dylan Song. 19 Nov 2008 .
Shelton, Robert. No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan. New York: Penguin, 1986.
The Bob Dylan Scrapbook. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005.

Maggie's Farm – Bob Dylan
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
Well, I wake in the morning,
Fold my hands and pray for rain.
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin' me insane.
It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more.
No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more.
Well, he hands you a nickel,
He hands you a dime,
He asks you with a grin
If you're havin' a good time,
Then he fines you every time you slam the door.
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more.

I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.
No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.
Well, he puts his cigar
Out in your face just for kicks.
His bedroom window
It is made out of bricks.
The National Guard stands around his door.
Ah, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.

I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.
No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.
Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law.
Everybody says
She's the brains behind pa.
She's sixty-eight, but she says she's fifty-four.
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am,
But everybody wants you
To be just like them.
They say sing while you slave and I just get bored.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

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