Album: Desire (1976)
Play Video
  • I married Isis on the fifth day of May
    But I could not hold on to her very long
    So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away
    For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong

    I came to a high place of darkness and light
    Dividing line ran through the center of town
    I hitched up my pony to a post on the right
    Went in to a laundry to wash my clothes down

    A man in the corner approached me for a match
    I knew right away he was not ordinary
    He said, are you lookin' for somethin' easy to catch
    Said, I got no money, he said, that ain't necessary

    We set out that night for the cold in the North
    I gave him my blanket, he gave me his word
    I said, where are we goin', he said we'd be back by the fourth
    I said, that's the best news that I've ever heard

    I was thinkin' about turquoise, I was thinkin' about gold
    I was thinkin' about diamonds and the world's biggest necklace
    As we rode through the canyons, through the devilish cold
    I was thinkin' about Isis, how she thought I was so reckless

    How she told me that one day we would meet up again
    And things would be different the next time we wed
    If I only could hang on and just be her friend
    I still can't remember all the best things she said

    We came to the pyramids all embedded in ice
    He said, there's a body I'm tryin' to find
    If I carry it out it'll bring a good price
    'Twas then that I knew what he had on his mind

    The wind it was howlin' and the snow was outrageous
    We chopped through the night and we chopped through the dawn
    When he died I was hopin' that it wasn't contagious
    But I made up my mind that I had to go on

    I broke into the tomb, but the casket was empty
    There was no jewels, no nothin', I felt I'd been had
    When I saw that my partner was just bein' friendly
    When I took up his offer I must-a been mad

    I picked up his body and I dragged him inside
    Threw him down in the hole and I put back the cover
    I said a quick prayer and I felt satisfied
    Then I rode back to find Isis just to tell her I love her

    She was there in the meadow where the creek used to rise
    Blinded by sleep and in need of a bed
    I came in from the East with the sun in my eyes
    I cursed her one time then I rode on ahead

    She said, where ya been? I said, no place special
    She said, you look different, I said, well, I guess
    She said, you been gone, I said, that's only natural
    She said, you gonna stay? I said, yeah, I might do

    Isis, oh, Isis, you mystical child
    What drives me to you is what drives me insane
    I still can remember the way that you smiled
    On the fifth day of May in the drizzlin' rain Writer/s: Bob Dylan, Jacques Levy
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 12

  • Leena from Mississuaga, OnThis song is infact about Sara. He introdouces it during TRR as a song about marriage, and his was failing at the time but they were trying to patch things up. Of course the song isn't just about Sara, but it's obvious that she's probably the main subject of the song. It tells a story of a man who learns loyality after having been betrayed; Bob cheated on Sara all the time during the mid 70's but they eventually got back together for a period of time. And Isis was the Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility; Sara represented family to Dylan, she gave him salvation, family and peace for a time of which he referred to as "the best and happiest years of my life". You can tell just by listening to "Sara". And about the May 5th thing, of course he wasn't gonna be literal, it's Bob Dylan haha.
  • Peter from London England, -To Matthew from New York: Dylan's songs are rarely, if ever, "about" anything in the true sense of the word. To make the sweeping statement that ISIS is "about his wife" is naive and far too simplistic. FYI Bob & Sara married on November 22nd (1965) and not May 5th - the weather for the event is not recorded anywhere!
    Regards, Peter: London, England
  • Elie from London, -gota love the version on the rolling thunder review one of the most powerfull things ever in anything
  • Matthew from New York, NyThis song is about his wife. First of all, he did marry Sara on May 5 in the "drizzling rain." That can't be a coincidence. Second, he calls Isis a "mystical child." On "Sara," which is obviously about his wife, he calls her a "mystical wife." I see that as Dylan dropping a hint to his listeners. Plus, the end of this song is obviously Dylan's fantasy of reuniting with his estranged wife.
  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhCoincidentally, the song "Powerslave" by Iron Maiden also refers to Horus and Osiris. That is all. Haven't heard this song, but I'd like to given good reviews I've read about the song and the album.
  • Mitch from Durham, NcIn response to the top statement, the 2nd one, that "Isis" is about Sara, Bob's wife at the time, this is not true. The song is an extended metaphor written by Dylan and Jacques Levy, his co-writer on a lot of "Desire." The song "Sara" at the end of the album is about his wife.
  • Peter from London EnglandThe "Leonard" that Dylan refers to is Leonard Cohen. That concert was in Montreal, Canada Cohen's home town.
  • Barry from New York, NyI recently got a dvd copy of Dylan's film RENALDO AND CLARA, which depite its 4 hour length, contains some great performance scenes of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue. There is a great version if ISIS, as well as other DESIRE era songs and earlier classics.
  • Craig from Madison, WiDylan barks this song to great effect in a live version on "Biograph" and "Bootleg VI-1975." His intro (remember when Dylan did intros?) was, "This is a song about marriage. It's called 'Isis.' This song's for Leonard, if he's still here." If anyone knows who Leonard is, please let me know. Cohen? Nimoy? Maltin? Sugar Ray? Please let me know
  • Craig from Madison, WiOne of Dylan's great underrated/unknown songs. What drives me to it is what drives me insane. This, along with "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" and "Black Diamond Bay" can be held up as proof that when Dylan picked up a guitar the world lost a great short story writer. Particularly effective is the dialogue between Dylan's character and Isis at song's end. He tries so hard to be cool, but he's desperate for her.
  • John from Waterville, MiEver read any Joseph Campbell books?
  • Thom from Canberra, AustraliaWhite Stripes cover this at concerts - not too bad.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Petula Clark

Petula ClarkSongwriter Interviews

Petula talks about her hits "Downtown" and "Don't Sleep In The Subway," and explains her Michael Jackson connection.

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired MenSong Writing

Bowie's "activist" days of 1964 led to Ziggy Stardust.


KissFact or Fiction

Kiss is the subject of many outlandish rumors - some of which happen to be true. See if you can spot the fakes.


PrinceFact or Fiction

Prince is shrouded in mystery, making him an excellent candidate for Fact or Fiction. Is he really a Scientologist? Does he own an exotic animal?

Classic Metal

Classic MetalFact or Fiction

Ozzy, Guns N' Roses, Judas Priest and even Michael Bolton show up in this Classic Metal quiz.

Dar Williams

Dar WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

A popular contemporary folk singer, Williams still remembers the sticky note that changed her life in college.