Bob Dylan On Luck And Respect

SAMSUNG CSCYou say that you’re down on your luck. Well, most of us have found ourselves down there. I know I have, so, welcome to the club.

It just so happens that how you handle this period of time can lead you to lose your self-respect, and for others to also lose their respect for you; or it can be a great period of time during which you end up dramatically increasing your self-respect, and the respect others have for you.

How do we go about taking the preferable course? Bob Dylan2Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Show on “Luck” provides some important lessons.

Bob starts the show off with Paul Evans singing, “Happy Go Lucky Me.”

I can laugh
When things aint funny
(A haha) happy go lucky me

Yeah, I can smile
When I aint got no money
(A haha) happy go lucky me

Paul Evans

Paul Evans

It may sound silly but
Mmm, I don’t care
I got the moonlight
I got the sun
I’ve got the stars above

Me and my filly well, we both share
This slappy go happy, happy go lucky looovve

Well! Life is sweet whooa sweet as honey
(A haha) happy go lucky me

The song tells us about a guy who, even when he’s down on his luck, can appreciate moonlight, the sun and the stars. At the same time, there is a laugh at the end of the song that sounds clearly strained. This is indeed part of the experience, and it is normal to spend some time being with the strained feelings. As we do, some find it helpful to gently remind themselves that there are aspects of life that are “sweet whooa sweet as honey.”

Next up on Bob’s show is B. B. King, king of the blues, singing “Bad Luck Soul.”

bbkingI ain’t got nobody and I don’t know what to do
They say things will get better
But I don’t believe it’s true
I thought I had friends, but they all disappeared
Doggone bad luck soul

Everything I do people
Everything I do seems to be wrong
It wouldn’t be so bad if I knew I had a home

With blues like this, there is an acceptance that spending time experiencing sadness, anguish, and tears is part of life and something all human beings have in common. Blues music is popular with many of us precisely because as we listen, we experience sharing our personal grief with the blues artist. As down as we may feel, there is some comfort in knowing others go through this as well.

meditationToday, it is popular to just try to snap out of these experiences, perhaps by going to a psychiatrist to get some pills. For me, personally, in addition to listening to some blues music, I meditate twice a day.  I find that as I meditate, there are times when I experience waves and waves of bluesy feelings. In meditation, during these times, there is no need to explain, no need to try to talk myself out of this experience. I just experience its fullness, its richness as it enriches my soul.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

On Bob’s Theme Time Radio show, he likes to read us some poetry from time to time. On his “luck” show, he tells us that Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Shallow men believe in luck, strong men believe in cause and effect.”

A little later, he tells us that,

Emily DickinsonEmily Dickinson had some feelings about luck. She didn’t think it was chance at all. Here’s what she had to say, “Luck is not chance, it’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned. The father of the mine is that old-fashioned coin we spurned.”

Hmm, I’ll have to think about that one for a while. While I do, let’s move on to the part of Bob’s show when he answers his emails.

This one’s from William McDuff. He writes, Dear Bob, I heard that next weeks’s subject is going to be about luck. Well, I’m the original bad luck kid. If it started raining soup, I’d be stuck with a fork. What can I do to turn my luck around?

Well, Bill, you don’t mind if I call you Bill, do you, there is no such thing as bad luck. As Ray Kroc, who started McDonald’s once said, “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” Henry Ward Beecher, believed pretty much the same thing. “I never knew an early rising, careful, prudent man, careful of his earnings, and strictly honest who complained of bad luck.”

I hope your luck turns around Bill, and even if it doesn’t, you’re always welcome here on Theme Time Radio Hour, where we like to remind you that in the words of Roosevelt Sykes, “You can’t be lucky all of the time.”

Bob then plays Sykes’ blues song, “You Can’t Be Lucky All of the Time,” which tells us about a woman who has been, of late, very lucky, but she may not want to rest too comfortably upon this luck for long because hard luck may be just around the corner.

After a few more songs, it’s poetry time once again:

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

The poet, Robert Burns had a few words to tell us about the fickle fortune of luck. Let me share them with ya. 

Though fickle Fortune has deceived me,
She promis’d fair and perform’d but ill;
Of mistress, friends, and wealth bereav’d me,
Yet I bear a heart shall support me still.

I’ll act with prudence as far ‘s I’m able,
But if success I must never find,
Then come misfortune, I bid thee welcome,
I’ll meet thee with an undaunted mind.

Well said, Mr. Burns.

Of the last few great songs that Bob plays on this edition of “Theme Time Radio Hour,” I liked the best, Wynn Stewart’s “Three Cheers for the Loser.”

Wynn Stewart

Wynn Stewart

Now gather around me blues
I’d like to make a toast
Let’s all extend three cheers
To a guy that’s lost the most

I don’t want your pity
Or your sympathy
Just three cheers for the loser
That’s me

Well, I set out to win her
Knowin’ I might lose
I didn’t think I’d end up
Talkin’ to the blues

The only thing I didn’t lose
Is her haunting memory
Three cheers for the loser
That’s me

Now blues I stand before you
And I’m still hurtin’ yet
The things I’ve been through
You know I won’t forget

Still I took it like a man
You know I set her free
Three cheers for the loser
That’s me

Well, I set out to win her
Knowin’ I might lose
I didn’t think I’d end up
Talkin’ to the blues

The only thing I didn’t lose
Is her haunting memory
Three cheers for the loser
That’s me

Oh, three cheers for the loser
That’s me

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra

Bob closes his “Luck” show with a great, swinging rendition of “Here’s to the Losers,” sung by old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra:

Here’s to those who love not too wisely, know not wisely, but too well
To the girl who sighs with envy when she hears that wedding bell
To the guy who’d throw a party if he knew someone to call
Here’s to the losers, bless them all

Here’s to those who drink their dinners when that lady doesn’t show
To the girl who’ll wait for kisses underneath that mistletoe
To the lonely summer lovers when the leaves begin to fall
Here’s to the losers, a-bless them all

Hey, Tom, Dick and Harry, come in out of the rain
Those torches you carry must be drowned in champagne

Here’s the last toast of the evening, here’s to those who still believe
All the losers will be winners, all the givers shall receive
Here’s to trouble-free tomorrows, may your sorrows all be small
Here’s to the losers, bless them all

Well, that’s my show for this week. Till next time, whether your luck is up or down, you can count on the mighty wheel of fortune to keep turning round.

Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.

Bob Dylan On Happiness
Bob Dylan On The Rich and Poor

About the Author

Jeffrey Rubin grew up in Brooklyn, received his PhD from the University of Minnesota and has taught conflict resolution there as well as at a psychiatric clinic, a correctional facility and a number of public schools. He has published articles on anger and conflict resolution and has authored three novels.


  1. Hey that Bob Dylan is one hell of a DJ. One thing about perspiration equating to luck that I’ve noticed is that when I’m down on my luck, I actually feel spurred on to work harder. If I’m in rough shape I strive and work really hard to not be in rough shape anymore. As soon as I’m not in rough shape anymore though I tend to get a bit complacent. Perhaps, we need some rough times to keep us firing on all cylinders. Just a thought…

    • I like the way you’re thinking about this Jack Star. There are times that I feel spurred on to try harder when I fall on hard times. But when I play golf, after a few rough shots, sometimes I try harder and it seems to work for the better, and sometimes my game goes right in the toilet. Pressing too hard can lead to poorer performance, and there is a place for taking a little time off to gather one’s wits. One thing for sure, the issues are not always straight forward.

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