All I’ve got is a red guitar, three chords and the truth

This is one of the most meaningful lyrics to anyone that appreciates the power of music. Originally written by Bob Dylan, it was made famous by Jimi Hendrix and later covered by everyone from U2 to Elton John and the Grateful Dead.

“All I’ve got is a red guitar, three chords and the truth”Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland

Song: All Along the Watchtower

Artist: Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, U2

Album: John Wesley Harding (Dylan), Electric Lady land (Hendrix)

Year:1967, 1968

Leave a comment below. Let me know if you have corrections or suggestions. Do you own this music on vinyl, CD, or download for your iPOD?
Why is this lyric important to you? What lyrics would you add to Lyrical Wisdom?

17 responses to “All I’ve got is a red guitar, three chords and the truth

  1. It Aint Me Babe is one of the saddest love songs ever written and expresses a relatively common emotion/situation that isn’t described often in songs. That’s why I love and appreciate it.

  2. I thought that this was an addition made by Neil Young, as the Dylan and Hendix’s verision lack this lyric, I may be wrong. But as far as it being a meaningful lyric what could be more empowering and palapable than the thought of self expression as a means of change?

    • Mary, this looks super easy and delicious. I love it when you can "throw torehteg" a meal based on what's in the fridge and pantry. And as usual, I love your way with words. :-)Becky

  3. thanks suzy!

    It was Bono’s addition on Rattle and Hum!

  4. Also, “All Along the Watchtower” was originally written by Richie Havens, not Bob Dylan.

  5. Wikipedia credits Dylan and is pretty convincing.

  6. In 1987, Richie Havens released an album that was entirely covers of Dylan and Beatles tunes and “Watchtower” was one of the covers. This is from, his official site.

    The term “3 chords and the truth” is generally attributed to Harlan Howard. When asked what makes for a good country song, he replied “a country song ain’t nothing but three chords and the truth.”

    I believe Suzy Carr is correct that it was Bono/U2 that added the “three chords” line to their version of “Watchtower.”

  7. Pingback: Guitar class covers Hendrix, looks to crowd-source requests « Music at Gleneagle

  8. This Dylan lyric is simple and profound. Here’s a lyric that gives some simple wisdom to keep in mind:

    “History and the future are the comforts of the curiosity but here we are, rooted in the present day.” -Greg Graffin of Bad Religion (“No Control”)

  9. I’m posting the Bono quote tomorrow – but here’s one (non-musical, but still applicable) to add to the mix:

    Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.
    – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

  10. I’ll disagree with Suzy on this. Correct me if I’m wrong but the Hendrix cover of Dylan’s tune was recorded many years prior to U2’s first album, not to mention the U2 cover.

  11. I think Suzy was only saying that U2 were first to throw in the 3 chords line, yeah they were pre puberty when Jimi died lol

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