Bob Dylan, “Only a pawn in their game” (live at March on Washington, August 28, 1963)


A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood / A finger fired the trigger to his name / A handle hid out in the dark / A hand set the spark / Two eyes took the aim / Behind a man’s brain / But he can’t be blamed / He’s only a pawn in their game

A South politician preaches to the poor white man / “You got more than the blacks, don’t complain / You’re better than them, you been born with white skin”, they explain / And the Negro’s name / Is used it is plain / For the politician’s gain / As he rises to fame / And the poor white remains / On the caboose of the train / But it ain’t him to blame / He’s only a pawn in their game

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid / And the marshals and cops get the same / But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool / He’s taught in his school / From the start by the rule / That the laws are with him / To protect his white skin / To keep up his hate / So he never thinks straight / ’Bout the shape that he’s in / But it ain’t him to blame / He’s only a pawn in their game

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks / And the hoofbeats pound in his brain / And he’s taught how to walk in a pack / Shoot in the back / With his fist in a clinch / To hang and to lynch / To hide ’neath the hood / To kill with no pain / Like a dog on a chain / He ain’t got no name / But it ain’t him to blame / He’s only a pawn in their game

Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught / They lowered him down as a king / But when the shadowy sun sets on the one / That fired the gun / He’ll see by his grave / On the stone that remains / Carved next to his name / His epitaph plain: “Only a pawn in their game”

[By Bob Dylan © Warner Bros. Inc. / renewed 1991-92 by Special Rider Music, 1963-64]

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