Jokerman is, without any doubt whatsoever, one of the great classics on a rollercoaster album such as Infidels. The single-guitar version on dylanchords, however, never really did it for me: great song, great harmonies, but so thin when you’re alone with your guitar, without the exquisite drums’n’bass work by Sly and Robbie.

Then, one day, on my way home from work, I was somehow humming Jokerman while thinking Moonlight (this was back when “Love and Theft” was recent news), and something clicked.

I’ve had it in the back of my head for some years now, so I figured it was time to record it.


Jokerman meets Moonlight

I suppose one could say that where Dylan’s Jokerman tends towards the enigmatic, mine is more of a joker.

For those so inclined: here are the chords:


Bbo      x12020
Co       x34242
A/c#     x42220  or x4222x with half-barre
D/a      x04232
E+       022110
A7/g     34222x
E7-9     076760
Bb       688700
G#+      476500

|: A . Bbo . Bm7 . E7 . :|

A               Bbo    Bm7          Co
Standing on the waters casting your bread
          A/c# /e     F#           Bm7   E7       A       D/a  A  E+
While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing.
A       Bbo           Bm7      Co
Distant ships sailing into the mist,
          A/c# /e    F#                    Bm7      
You were born with a snake in both of your fists 
        E7            A       D/a  A  Bbo
while a hurricane was blowing.
Bm   /a-g#-f#   E     /f       /f#     /g#    A  D/a  A  Bbo
Freedom         just around the corner for you
         Bm     /a   -g#-f#  E   /f  /f#    /g#    A /g# A7/g F#7
But with truth so far off,    what good will it do?

Bm7                   E7-9
Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune,
A        G           F#           F#7
Bird fly high by the light of the moon,
Bm7    Bb  G#+  A
Oh,    oh, oh, Jokerman.

Edit: Oh, and my friend Lars thought I started out too negative here, with the “I don’t like this and I don’t like that” and all, and that I should at least liven it up with a picture of U2. Go figure.

20 thoughts on “Jokerman

  1. I so enjoy your dylanchords page and have for years.. This is very enjoyable and a wonderful musical interlude, nice connection. I have found a something similiar with Four Strong Winds and Tambourine Man….I dont have your great gift for music but noodling around one day I found an interesting way to “blend” the melodies of the songs quite naturallly. Just passing it on….Thanks for all the dylan songs and insights you have provided on your site.

  2. to anyone who only knows infidels as the album that doesn’t have blind willie mctell, i would respond, “but it DOES have jokerman”. nice rendition.

    1. Excellent point. And, I would say: It has I and I (at some point I was convinced that that is Dylan’s best song. I’m not so certain anymore, but it has imagery that is way up there in the league where angels sing) and Sweetheart like you (again: those images that are created, just by putting some words together).

  3. I’ve never bothered to comment before, but I’ve been using this site for about 18 months now. After listening to this though, I had to comment. Amazing! It has a very mid-60’s Beatleish feel. Record an album, Eyolf!

  4. @chris: yeah, I know – my “best song” category is fairly unstable — there are so many to choose from. But, yeah, nobody can touch the Letterman version of Jokerman, not even Dylan. I’m quite happy with a “fine” version.

    @Shakti: I’m glad you mention the Beatles feel. Not that I was going after it, but when it happened (“Hm – would it be a jokermanly idea to record a near-identical mock-copy of this rather irregular improvised melody line?”) it occurred to me that it had this mid-60 Beatles feel…
    I’m not going to record an album, though. But I may put up my killer version of It Ain’t Me Babe one of these days. :)

  5. Great work! This is a wonderful, light & easy version of the song – I think it really suits the playful chorus in particular. I was just a reading an excellent link on this song the other day – can’t remember where….

  6. Very intresting version, indeed.
    Wanted to thank you for this great page, many song chords been checked out from here. Tackar.

  7. This made me laugh with pleasure! it grows on you as the song goes on. Very inventive stuff….and oh yes thanks so much for this site….

  8. Hello Eyolf, since i know dylanchords, i step by yur blog too, nice job you’ve been doing! Thanks a lot for it!
    Cheers from Brazil!

  9. This is great! Have you made any other recordings we could listen to? I really enjoyed this so I wondered if there is more where that came from!

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