I Shall Be Released By The Band: Lyrics Meaning And Interpretation

I Shall Be Released by The Band: Lyrics Meaning and Interpretation

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“I shall be released lyrics meaning” is different for different versions of the song. Originally written by Bob Dylan, it was initially recorded with the Rock Band called The Band. Composed of members from Canada and America, its name expressed the deep desire of the Band to be “The Band” of music history. Decades later, the Band is a respected name among musical greats.

Nonetheless, “I shall be released lyrics meaning” covered in this article is about this version i.e. the first recording of the song. The song was recorded in 1967 and at this time Bib Dylan had gained the status of a modern bard. His lyrics weaved emotion in the form of storytelling or a personal journey that felt like a tale. It was a collaboration between the two i.e. Dylan & the Band. The Band released their own rendition of this version a year later.

The Album cover of this EP was drawn by Bob Dylan I.e. his interpretation of the name “Music from the Big Pink”. It is safe to say that “I shall be released lyrics meaning” has carried enough weight to become an eternal classic over the decades. Historically, the Band were Dylan’s backup band, but he helped them venture on as an independent artist. The song became their first major hit.

Since its release, the song has earned multiple awards and critical acclaim. It has also been covered by numerous artists, musicians and DJs. In a way, the song has remained relevant across generations of listeners.

The song is part of the Greatest Hits collection of Dylan as well as the Band. It is also the peak of their collaborative creativity. A fun fact about the song is that people may consider it gospel, but it also qualifies as a Reggae song. In a way, the song is a testament to the diverse sounds of The Band and Bob Dylan I.e. their ability to explore various genres of music. To learn more about the “I shall be released lyrics meaning”, read on.

What does the title mean

The “I shall be released lyrics meaning” can very well be captured in the name itself. To those familiar with religious and gospel themes, this phrase is about releasing from the quest for absolution. It’s about finding heaven and a place with God, away from the pressures of the just & unjust obligations of life.

The essence of “I shall be released lyrics meaning” is also in the presumption that a life bound by obligations makes an individual passive. In fact, it has the potential to make the person a passive object without any will.

Hence “I shall be released lyrics meaning” is all about release from this bondage, into spiritual freedom.

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Verse 1 – What does it mean

They say everything can be replaced

They say every distance is not near

So I remember every face

Of every man who put me here


The first lines reflect on known saying and phrases of that time. A form of conditioning of the narrator, wherein he talks about the notion that nothing is irreplaceable. The words may imply that akin to objects & objectives, people can be replaced too. Then the conflict is spelt in the second line where the narrator quotes people for stating that no distance is too short i.e. until the destination is reached, all distances are far away. The lyrics try to spell out the conflict between the expendability of things and their importance if a journey has to be made.

Eventually, Dylan writes that he has memorized all the places and faces that lead to his predicament. An urban legend associated these lines with the false incarceration of the boxer Hurricane carter. How he was expendable at his peak, his journey never ended & he recounted everything. Then again, the words bear a reflection of the phrases and customs of that time. The Band express these words as a precursor to the Chorus.

What does the chorus mean


I see my light come shining

From the west down to the east

Any day now, any day now

I shall be released


Through this recollection, the singer specifies enlightenment. Of the way, the darkness of the sunset in the West spelt an inner awakening for a man bound by obligations. It also implies that temporary freedom from this bondage came at sundown, away from the peering eyes of others. The final two lines of the chorus are a repetition of the words of hope. They spell out the singer’s desire to be released from worldly obligations due to this understanding and enlightenment.

Verse 2 – What does it mean

They say every man needs protection

They say that every man must fall

Yet I swear I see my reflection

Somewhere so high above this wall


Again, the words talk about known anecdotes of that time. They state that each and every person needs protection. By implication, the status of a man becomes immaterial and boundation appears to be a form of protection that free people may lack. It is a reflection on the Wild West of old as well as the incarceration of the powerful, including Hurricane Carter. The next line states that every man is fallible. A sweeping statement that impresses upon a fact, that everyone requires protection and everyone is also fallible. Both lines, support each other perfectly. In the last lines, the singer reiterates that in spite of the protection and fallibility, he can witness his reflection above all these limiting boundaries I.e. walls.

Verse 3 – What does it mean

Now, yonder stands a man in this lonely crowd

A man who swears he’s not to blame

All day long I hear him shouting so loud

Just crying out that he was framed

After the repetition of the chorus, the singer shifts into the shoes of someone who is viewing the person claiming release. This person is unable to understand why a person stands there and asks for release. Why does he look around and states enlightenment and a frame-up? To this person, he appears nothing more than a person crying about his predicament.

This verse may also presume that the same person has a self-view of enlightenment and a poor view of another person.


No wonder, I shall be released lyrics meaning fits in perfectly with spiritual themes and the imprisonment of Hurricane carter. The boxer went on to write a book about his innocence and his account could also be captured by this song. The nuance of the words lies in their reliability. It isn’t just about prisoners, but also about those struggling with long drawn obligations that may feel like a prison. In such a state of mind, remembering the wisdom of old and carrying the hope of release can be a blessing. In a way, this song has a subtle theme of hope for the audience.

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