Bob Dylan

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The sublimity of wisdom is to do those things living that are desired when dying.
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Bob Dylan with Joan Baez (1963-08-28)

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman (1941-05-24) in Duluth, Minnesota, is an American folk and rock singer-songwriter.

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  • There's no black and white, left and right to me anymore; there's only up and down and down is very close to the ground. And I'm trying to go up without thinking about anything trivial such as politics. They has got nothing to do with it. I'm thinking about the general people and when they get hurt.
  • Reporter: How many people who labor in the same musical vineyard in which you toil - how many are protest singers? That is, people who use their music, and use the songs to protest the, uh, social state in which we live today: the matter of war, the matter of crime, or whatever it might be.
Bob Dylan: Um...how many?
Reporter: Yes. How many?
Bob Dylan: Uh, I think there's about, uh...136.
Reporter: You say about 136, or you mean exactly 136?
Bob Dylan: Uh, it's either 136 or 142.
  • God, I'm glad I'm not me.
    • Said when reading a newspaper article about himself in Dont Look Back (1967)
  • Chaos is a friend of mine.
    • Newsweek (Dec. 9, 1985)
  • I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.
    • Interview published with the Biograph album set (1985)
  • The first two lines, which rhymed 'kiddin' you' and 'didn't you,' just about knocked me out, and later on, when I got to the jugglers and the chrome horse and the princess on the steeple, it all just about got to be too much.
  • People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around—the music and the ideas.
    • The Guardian (Feb. 13, 1992)
  • That ear - I mean, Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian.
  • Sometimes you say things in songs even if there's a small chance of them being true. And sometimes you say things that have nothing to do with the truth of what you want to say and sometimes you say things that everyone knows to be true. Then again, at the same time, you're thinking that the only truth on earth is that there is no truth on it. Whatever you are saying, you're saying in a ricky-tick way. There's never time to reflect. You stitched and pressed and packed and drove, is what you did.
  • I put one on the turntable and when the needle dropped, I was stunned — didn't know whether I was stoned or straight.
  • He's a pinboy. He also wears suspenders. He's a real person. You know him, but not by that name... I saw him come into the room one night and he looked like a camel. He proceeded to put his eyes in his pocket. I asked this guy who he was and he said, "That's Mr. Jones." Then I asked this cat, "Doesn't he do anything but put his eyes in his pocket?" And he told me, "He puts his nose on the ground." It's all there, it's a true story.
    • When asked about the meaning of the song "Ballad of a Thin Man" during a 1965 interview.
  • I don't believe you! You're a liar! ... Play it fucking loud!

Song lyrics

Bob Dylan (1962)

Talking New York
  • You sound like a hillbilly; We want folk singers here.
Song to Woody
  • Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song, 'bout a funny ol' world that's a-comin' along
  • Seems sick an' it's hungry, it's tired an' it's torn, it looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born.
  • Here's to Cisco an' Sonny an' Lead Belly too, an' to all the good people that traveled with you.
  • here's to the hearts an' the hands of the men, that come with the dust and are gone with the wind.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

Blowin' in the Wind
  • How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?
    How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?
  • Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea?
  • How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?
  • Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?
  • The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.
Masters of War
  • All the money you made will never buy back your soul.
  • You ain't worth the blood that runs in your veins.
Talkin' World War III Blues
  • And I drove down 42nd Street in my Cadillac.
    Good car to drive after a war.
  • Half of the people can be part right all of the time,
    Some of the people can be all right part of the time,
    But all the people can't be all right all the time.
    I think Abraham Lincoln said that.
    I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.
    I said that.
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
  • I once loved a woman, A child I Am Told

I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul.

Girl from the North Country
  • So if you're travelin' in the north country fair,
    Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
    Remember me to one who lives there.
    She once was a true love of mine.

The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964)

The Times They Are A-Changin'
  • The times they are a-changin’.
  • Don't criticize what you can't understand.
  • Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.
With God On Our Side
  • You never ask questions When God's on your side
  • You don't count the dead When God's on your side
Restless Farewell
  • But if the arrow is straight, And the point is slick, It can pierce through dust no matter how thick.

Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)

All I Really Want To Do
  • All I really want to do is, baby, be friends with you.
  • I ain't looking for you to feel like me, see like me, or be like me.
My Back Pages
  • Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
  • My existence led by confusion boats, mutiny from stern to bow.
Motorpsycho Nitemare
  • I like Fidel Castro and his beard.

Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Complete lyrics here

  • Johnny's in the basement
    Mixing up the medicine
    I'm on the pavement
    Thinking about the government
    The man in the trenchcoat
    Badge out, laid off
    Says he's got a bad cough
    Wants to get it paid off
    Look out kid
    It's somethin' you did
    God knows when
    But you're doin' it again
  • You don't need a weather man
    To know which way the wind blows
  • Get jailed, jump bail
    Join the army, if you fail
  • Don't follow leaders
    Watch the parkin' meters
  • Twenty years of schoolin'
    And they put you on the day shift
  • The pump don't work
    'Cause the vandals took the handles
She Belongs to Me
  • She's got everything she needs, she's an artist, she don't look back.
  • She could take the dark out the nighttime and paint the daytime black.
  • But you will wind up peeking through her keyhole down upon your knees.
Love Minus Zero/No Limit
  • There's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all.
  • She knows too much to argue or to judge.
Outlaw Blues
  • Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell you the truth.
Mr. Tambourine Man
  • Oh, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free.
  • It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run
  • And if you hear vague traces of skipping reels of rhyme...
  • Take me disappearing, through the smoke rings of my mind, down the foggy ruins of time...
  • With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves, let me forget about today until tomorrow.
  • Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me.
    I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
    Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me.
    In the jingle-jangle morning, I'll come following you.
  • Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
Gates of Eden
  • All and all can only fall with a crushing but meaningless blow.
  • And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden.
  • Of war and peace the truth just twist, its curfew gull it glides.
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
  • Money doesn't talk, it swears.
    Obscenity, who really cares? Propaganda all is phony.
  • He not busy being born is busy dying.
  • Even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked.
  • It is not he or she or them or it that you belong to.
  • Disillusioned words like bullets bark
    As human gods aim for their marks.
    Make everything from toy guns that spark
    To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark.
    It's easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred.
  • While others say don't hate nothing at all except hatred
  • Advertising signs that con you into thinking you are the one
    That can do what's never been done,
    That can win what's never been won
    Meanwhile, life outside goes on all around you
  • And if my thought-dreams could be seen, they'd probably put my head in a guillotine.
    But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only.
  • To understand you know too soon there is no sense in trying.
  • Although the masters make the rules for the wise men and the fools, I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
  • The vagabond who's rapping at your door, is standing in the clothes that you once wore.
  • Your lover who just walked out the door, has taken all your blankets from your floor.
  • Yonder stands your orphan with his gun, crying like a fire in the sun.

Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Positively 4th Street
  • You got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend. When I was down, you just stood there grinning.
  • Do you take me for such a fool to think I'd make contact with one that tries to hide what he don't know to begin with.
  • I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes. You'd know what a drag it is to see you.
Like a Rolling Stone
  • Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse. When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose. You're invisible now. You've got no secrets to conceal.
  • How does it feel? To be without a home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone.
  • Once upon a time you dressed so fine, threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you. People call, say beware doll, you're bound to fall, you thought they were all, kiddin you.
  • Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people, they're drinkin', thinkin' that they got it made
Tombstone Blues
  • The sun's not yellow, it's chicken.
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
  • And if I don't make it, you know my baby will.
  • Well, I wanna be your lover, baby, I don't wanna be your boss.
Ballad of a Thin Man
  • And you say, Oh my God, am I here all alone?
  • You've been with the professors and they've all liked your looks. With great lawyers you've discussed lepers and crooks.
  • You go watch the geek, who immediately walks up to you when he hears you speak, and says, how does it feel to be such a freak?, and you say, impossible as he hands you a bone.
  • And something is happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?
Highway 61 Revisited
  • Oh God said to Abraham, Kill me a son.
    Abe says, Man, you must be puttin' me on.
    God say, No. Abe say, What?
    God say, You can do what you want Abe, but
    the next time you see me comin' you better run.
    Well Abe says, Where do you want this killin' done?
    God says, Out on Highway 61.
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
  • Up on Housing Project Hill, it's either fortune or fame. You must pick one or the other, though neither of them are to be what they claim.
Desolation Row
  • Yes, I received your letter yesterday
    (About the time the door knob broke)
    When you asked how I was doing
    Was that some kind of joke?
    All these people that you mention
    Yes, I know them, they're quite lame
    I had to rearrange their faces
    And give them all another name
    Right now I can't read too good
    Don't send me no more letters no
    Not unless you mail them
    From Desolation Row
  • Now at midnight all the agents, and the superhuman crew, come out and round up everyone, that knows more then they do.

Blonde on Blonde (1966)

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
  • But I would not feel so all alone, everybody must get stoned!
Pledging My Time
  • Somebody got lucky, but it was an accident.
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
  • Oh Mama, can this really be the end? To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again?
  • And here I sit so patiently waiting to find out what price you have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice.
  • The one was Texas medicine. the other was just railroad gin. And, like a fool, I mixed them and it strangled up my mind and now people just get uglier and I have no sense of time.
  • Your debutante knows what you need, but I know what you want.
  • You see, you're just like me. I hope you're satisfied.
Visions of Johanna
  • Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're trying to be so quiet.
  • We sit here stranded, though we're all doin' our best to deny it.
  • Inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial. Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while. But, Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues, you can tell by the way she smiles.
  • The ghost of 'lectricity howls in the bones of her face.
  • Name me someone that's not a parasite and I'll go out and say a prayer for him.
Absolutely Sweet Marie
  • But to live outside the law, you must be honest.

Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits (1967)

Positively 4th Street (recorded 1965)
  • Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes; you'd know what a drag it is to see you!

Nashville Skyline (1969)

Lay Lady Lay
  • Lay, lady, lay. Lay across my big, brass bed.
  • Whatever colors you have in your mind. I'll show them to you and you'll see them shine.
  • His clothes are dirty, but his hands are clean, and you're the best thing that he's ever seen.
  • You can have your cake and eat it, too.
  • Stay, lady, stay. Stay while the night is still ahead.

Self Portrait (1970)

Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
  • Ev'rybody's in despair,
    Ev'ry girl and boy
    But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
    Ev'rybody's gonna jump for joy.
  • Come all without, come all within,
    You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.
  • I like to do just like the rest,
    I like my sugar sweet, but guarding fumes and making haste,
    it ain't my cup of meat.
  • A cat's meow and a cow's moo,
    I can recite 'em all,
    just tell me where it hurts you, honey,

and I'll tell you who to call.

Planet Waves (1974)

Forever Young
  • May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung. May you stay forever young.
Dirge
  • I paid the price of solitude but at least I'm out of debt.
  • I hate myself for loving you.

Blood on the Tracks (1975)

Tangled Up In Blue
  • Early one mornin' the sun was shinin',
    I was layin' in bed
    Wond'rin'if she'd changed at all
    If her hair was still red.
  • Tangled up in blue...
  • Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through...
  • I helped her out of a jam, I guess, but I used a little too much force...
  • And every one of them words rang true and glowed like burnin' coal. Pourin' off of every page, like it was written in my soul from me to you...
  • The only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keepin' on like a bird that flew...
  • All the people we used to know, they're an illusion to me now...
  • Don't know how it all got started, I don't know what they do with their lives...
  • We always did feel the same, we just saw it from a different point of view...
  • But all the while I was alone
    The past was close behind,
    I seen a lot of women
    But she never escaped my mind,
  • I lived with them on Montague Street
    In a basement down the stairs
    There was music in the cafes at night
    And revolution in the air.
Idiot Wind
  • You're an idiot, babe. It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.
  • I can't help it if I'm lucky.
  • Visions of your chestnut mare shoot through my head and are makin' me see stars.
  • I waited for you on the running boards, near the cypress trees, while the springtime turned slowly into autumn.
  • Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats, blowing through the letters that we wrote.
    Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves,
    We're idiots, babe. It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves.
  • It was gravity which pulled us in and destiny which broke us apart
  • You tamed the lion in my cage but it just wasn't enough to change my heart
You're a Big Girl Now
  • Like a corkscrew to my heart...
  • A change in the weather is known to be extreme; but what's the sense in changing horses in mid-stream?
  • Time is a jetplane -- it moves too fast. Oh but what a shame that all we've shared can't last...
  • Love is so simple, to quote a phrase; you've known it all the time, I'm learnin' it these days.
Shelter from the Storm
  • Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine.
  • Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm...
  • "Come in", she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm."
If You See Her Say Hello
  • I always have respected her for doin' what she did and gettin' free
  • Say for me that I'm all right though things get kind of slow

She might think that I've forgotten her don't tell her it isn't so.

  • Sundown yellow moon I replay the past

I know every scene by heart they all went by so fast

  • If she's passing back this way I'm not that hard to find

Tell her she can look me up if she's got the time.

The Basement Tapes (1975)

This Wheel's on Fire (recorded in 1967)
  • If your mem'ry serves you well, we were gonna meet again and wait, so I think I'll just unpack my bags and sit before it gets too late.

No man alive will come to you with another tale to tell, but you know that we shall meet again, if your mem'ry serves you well.

  • If your memory serves you well, I was gonna confiscate your lace and wrap it up in a sailor's knot and hide it in your case.

And if I knew for sure that it was yours, it was oh so hard to tell, and you know that we shall meet again, if your memory serves you well.

  • If your memory serves you well, I remember you're the one who called out me to call out them to get your business done.

And after every plan has failed, and there was nothing left to tell, well you knew that we shall meet again if your memory serves you well.

  • Wheels on fire, rolling down the road, best notify my next of kin, this wheel shall explode!
Open the Door, Homer (recorded 1967)
  • Take care of all your memories. said my friend Mick, For you cannot relive them.

Desire (1976)

Hurricane
  • Here comes the story of The Hurricane, the man the authorities came to blame for something that he never done. Put in a prison cell, but one time he coulda been the champion of the world.
  • Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land, where justice is a game.
Mozambique
  • There's lots of pretty girls in Mozambique.

Slow Train Coming (1979)

Precious Angel
  • The enemy is subtle, how be it we're deceived? When the truth's in our hearts and we still don't believe?
When He Returns
  • Truth is an arrow and the gate is narrow...that it passes through
Slow Train Comin
  • In the home of the brave, Jefferson turnin' over in his grave,
    Fools glorifying themselves, trying to manipulate Satan

Shot of Love (1981)

Every Grain Of Sand
  • I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man. Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

Infidels (1983)

Jokerman
  • Take the motherless children off the streets.
  • A woman just gave birth to a prince today and dressed him in scarlet.
  • Freedom just around the corner for you. But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?
Sweetheart like You
  • Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you King.
Man of Peace
  • Sometimes Satan, comes as a man of peace.
I and I
  • Some one else is speaking with my mouth, but I'm listening only to my heart.
Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight
  • Yesterday's just a memory; tomorrow's never what it's supposed to be.
License to Kill
  • For man has invented his doom, the first step was touching the moon.

Empire Burlesque (1985)

Tight Connection to My Heart
  • What looks large from a distance, close up is never that big.
Dark Eyes
  • Oh, time is short and the days are sweet and passion rules the arrow that flies.

Biograph (1985)

Abandoned Love (recorded 1975)
  • I've been deceived by the clown inside of me. I thought that he was righteous but he's vain.
  • My patron saint is a-fighting with a ghost. He's always off somewhere when I need him most.
  • Let me feel your love one more time before I abandon it.
Up to Me (recorded 1974)
  • I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity.
  • The old Rounder in the iron mask slipped me the master key, somebody had to unlock your heart, he said it was up to me.
  • It frightens me the awful truth of how sweet life can be.
  • When you bite off more than you can chew, you pay the penalty, somebody's got to tell the tale, I guess it must be up to me.
  • Somebody's got to cry some tears, I guess it must be up to me.

Knocked Out Loaded (1986)

Brownsville Girl
  • I seen this movie one time about a man riding across the desert, and it starred Gregory Peck.
  • People don't do what they believe in, they just do what's most convenient, then they repent.
  • I didn't know whether to duck or to run, so I ran.

Down in the Groove (1988)

Death is Not the End

  • Oh, the tree of life is growing where the spirit never dies

And the bright light of salvation shines in dark and empty skies.

Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988)

Tweeter and the Monkey Man
  • Tweeter and the Monkey Man were hard up for cash
    They stayed up all night selling cocaine and hash
    To an undercover cop who had a sister named Jan
    Who for reasons unexplained she loved the Monkey Man

Oh Mercy (1989)

Political World

  • We live in a political world

Where mercy walks the plank,
Life is in mirrors, death disappears
Up the steps into the nearest bank.

Under the Red Sky (1990)

T.V. Talking Song
  • Your mind is your temple, keep it beautiful and free. Don't let an egg get laid in it by something you can't see.

The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 (1991)

Let me Die in my Footsteps (recorded 1962)
  • Let me die in my footsteps before I go under the ground.
  • I'd throw all the guns and the tanks in the sea, for they are mistakes of a past history.
Hard Times In New York Town (recorded 1963)
  • They'll kick you when you're up and knock you when you're down.
Angelina (recorded 1981)
  • When you cease to exist, then who will you blame?
Blind Willie McTell (recorded 1983)

Well, God is in His heaven
And we all want what's his
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is
I'm gazing out the window
Of the St. James Hotel
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 3 (1994)

Dignity
  • Drinkin' man listens to the voice he hears, In a crowded room full of covered up mirrors, Lookin' into the lost forgotten years For dignity

Time Out of Mind (1997)

Love Sick

  • I'm sick of love but I'm in the thick of it.
Not Dark Yet
  • It's not dark yet, but it's getting there...
  • Behind every beautiful thing there is some kind of pain
  • I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
    Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
    I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Standing In The Doorway
  • Last night I danced with a stranger, but she just reminded me you were the one.
  • I'll eat when I'm hungry, drink when I'm dry

The Essential Bob Dylan (2000)

Things Have Changed (recorded 1999)
  • Feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet... Putting her in a wheel barrow and wheeling her down the street.
  • People are crazy and times are strange/I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range, I used to care, but things have changed.
  • I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I can
  • I hurt easy, I just don't show it, you can hurt someone and not even know it
  • All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie
  • You can't win with a losing hand
  • If the Bible is right the world will explode


Maggie's Farm
  • Well I tried my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them

Love and Theft (2001)

Bye and Bye
  • The future to me is already a thing of the past.


Summer Days
  • Politician's got on his jogging shoes,he must be running for office, got no time to lose
Cry A While
  • I might need a good lawyer, could be your funeral, my trial
    Well, I cried for you, now it's your turn, you can cry awhile

Modern Times (2006)

Ain't Talkin'
  • If I catch my opponents ever sleepin', I'll just slaughter 'em where they lie.
Thunder on the Mountain
  • Gonna forget about myself for a while, gonna go out and see what others need.
Someday Baby
  • Take your clothes, put 'em in a sack. You goin' down the road, baby, and you cant come back. Someday baby, you ain't gonna worry po' me any more.

Unsourced


  • All I can do is be me, whoever that is.
  • Basically you have to suppress your own ambitions in order to be who you need to be.
  • Being noticed can be a burden. Jesus got himself crucified because he got himself noticed. So I disappear a lot.
  • Folk music is a word I can't use. Folk music is a bunch of fat people.
  • I told you I'm not commenting on whether it is weedpunk.
  • I accept chaos, I'm not sure whether it accepts me.
  • I define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be.
  • I don't think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They are both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking theres some kind of change.
  • I think of myself more as a song and dance man, you know.
Press conference in San Francisco on December 3rd, 1965. as a answer to the question: "Do you think of yourself primarely as a singer or as a poet?"
  • I say there're no depressed words just depressed minds.
  • I think a poet is anybody who wouldn't call himself a poet.
  • I've never written a political song. Songs can't save the world. I've gone through all that.
  • If I wasn't Bob Dylan, I'd probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers myself.
  • I started smoking at 11 years old an' only stopped once to catch my breath.
  • Just because you like my stuff doesn't mean I owe you anything.
  • The moment when you reload your rifle.
    • A definition of peace.
  • What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.
  • When you feel in your gut what you are and then dynamically pursue it— don't back down and don't give up— then you're going to mystify a lot of folks.
  • What good are fans? You can't eat applause for breakfast. You can't sleep with it.
  • Interviewer: They say Dylan never talks.
    Dylan: Well, what the hell is there to say?
  • Nostalgia is death.
  • I'm not disconnected from anything because of a force, just habit, it's just the way I am. I don't know, I have an idea that it's easier to be disconnected than to be connected. I've got a huge hallelujah for all the people who are connected, that's great, but I can't do that. I've been connected so many times. Things haven't worked out right, so rather than break myself up, I just don't get connected

External links

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