A Prayer of Redemption and a New Life – Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand”

“Every Grain Of Sand”

In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dying voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.

Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake
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.Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beat 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 always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.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 time it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

Perhaps considered as one of Bob Dylan’s finest works, “Every Grain of Sand” was released in 1981 as a part of Shot of Love – his twenty first album overall. This song, along with his other tracks released from the said period, was a subject of many discussions and interpretations due to its nature and content. During the period that the song was released, Bob Dylan was a recently converted Christian and a lot of his works at that time involved secular evangelical songs that explored his renewed faith and the many realizations that came with such change. “Every Grain of Sand” was one of the many works that arose from that specific phase in Dylan’s life and although the album where the track was included was met with mixed reviews, critics and the public alike were convinced of how powerful and great this song was.

Clocking at around six minutes and twenty seconds, Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand” is a song that plays behind a simplistic, bluesy guitar instrumentation. Halfway through the whole track, a harmonica solo breaks in – giving a very laid back and solemn mood to the whole track which coincides with the deep and personal content of the song. Most of the song’s critics have mentioned that this song while exploring on Dylan’s interpretation of his faith and what it does to him, they believe that the song speaks volumes to a lot of people around the world. Some believe that it is a prayer for a person who has found His guidance and redemption. Others see it as a testament of understanding our existence and what purpose do we serve here on Earth. Regardless of the numerous interpretations of the track, one thing remains true – Bob Dylan has touched the lives of many with his simple song of praise.

That is why it is not surprising that “Every Grain of Sand” is a popular choice for a funeral song. What the song speaks is an understanding of how our departed loved one has lived his or her life. It can both console and uplift our grieving hearts – gradually helping us word per word in accepting the actuality of things.