Every Grain of Sand (3:36)

Cover of Bob Dylan: The Collection

From Bob Dylan: The Collection and 47 other releases

Every Grain of Sand is a song written by Bob Dylan and originally released on his 1981 album Shot of Love. It was subsequently included on the compilations Biograph and The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991, as well as appearing on the soundtrack for the 1997 film Another Day In Paradise. It was also performed at the funeral of Johnny Cash, in 2003, by Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow.

The song was well received for its haunting imagery, which some have compared to that of William Blake. This was partly inspired by the following lines from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

Dylan was in what has been called his “Christianity Phase” at the time of its recording and release, and the song does contain powerful allusions to Jesus, faith, and spirituality. But it also stands as a secular work, and Rolling Stone magazine described it as a “mature update” of Dylan’s 1964 song Chimes of Freedom.

Biblical references include: Cain’s “chain of events” - Genesis 4: 1-16 Abraham’s seed as sand on the seashore - Genesis 22: 15-18 God’s thoughts “more in number than the sand” - Psalm 139: 17-18 The Parable of the Sower - (newborn seed, flowers of indulgence, weeds of yesterday, choked) Mark 4: 13-20 Be of Good Cheer - Mark 6: 47-51 Sparrows/hairs numbered - Matthew 10: 28-31; Luke 12: 6-7.

Every Grain of Sand was cited by Elvis Costello on his list of “500 albums essential to a happy life” as possibly Dylan’s finest track.[1]

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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

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics

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  • Tanorii

    the 80's verson of Chimes of Freedom

    13 May 9:38pm Reply
  • HayleighRayment

    and kids throw it everywhere

    2 Aug 2014 Reply
  • mandryka

    Well, even in his worst discographic period, he managed to write a gem or two. As I see it, it doesn't stand too far from Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah...

    17 Jun 2014 Reply
  • bucolicdream

    sometimes i turn, there's someone there, other times its only me

    10 Jun 2014 Reply
  • JohnnyMath

    This lyrics are perfect I love this so much

    2 Mar 2014 Reply
  • Lord_Kur

    "the bitter dance of loneliness"

    5 Jan 2014 Reply
  • TheUselessGolem

    I taught myself to play this on guitar today and noticed halfway through my first go at it that I was crying. Kept up like that 'til the end. I loved the song before but still felt some distance, like there was something impenetrable in the lyrics... well, I get it now. This is holy music indeed—which is as rare and precious a designation as you can get.

    28 Jul 2013 Reply
  • TheGreatChupon

    Thanks, Bobby...

    27 May 2013 Reply
  • MikesDmusic

    Dylan's rough odd harmonies can be so hauntingly beautiful.

    22 Feb 2013 Reply
  • ralfsu

    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.

    26 Sep 2012 Reply
  • MarvellousG

    Dylan's joint best with Desolation Row for me, both have that same kind of feeling of nostalgia that he does best

    14 Jul 2012 Reply
  • danc6433

    Prefered him better when he had integrity.

    23 Jun 2012 Reply
  • hape60

    what a moment! old jokerman didn't change faces, or did he? yes, and the harmonica solo!

    8 Jun 2012 Reply
  • ColorBlindBlues

    Poetry, Emotional harmonica solo.. Just an amazing song.

    1 Aug 2011 Reply
  • foxyluva

    Easily one of my favourite Dylan songs

    27 Jun 2011 Reply
  • puppyhand

    Love this song. First heard it at the end of Another Day in Paradise. [2]

    30 Mar 2011 Reply
  • Lord_Kur

    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.

    12 Jan 2011 Reply
  • Lord_Kur

    people don't seem to realize this is one of the most beautiful poems ever written: 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.

    12 Jan 2011 Reply
  • tehkeeks78

    Love this song. First heard it at the end of Another Day in Paradise.

    27 May 2010 Reply
  • Lord_Kur

    This song is a miracle

    23 Mar 2010 Reply
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