Gotta Serve Somebody
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Gotta Serve Somebody
"Gotta Serve Somebody"
Gotta Serve Somebody cover.jpg
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Slow Train Coming
"Trouble in Mind"
ReleasedAugust 20, 1979
RecordedMay 4, 1979
Muscle Shoals Sound Studios
LabelColumbia Records
Bob Dylan
Jerry Wexler
Barry Beckett
Bob Dylan singles chronology
"Changing of the Guards"
"Gotta Serve Somebody"
"Precious Angel"
Audio sample
"Gotta Serve Somebody"

"Gotta Serve Somebody" is a song by Bob Dylan from his 1979 studio album Slow Train Coming.[2] It won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male in 1979.[3]


The song was recorded in May of that year at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield, Alabama. The title never appears as such in the lyrics, though numerous mentions of "gonna serve somebody" come close. The B-side, "Trouble in Mind", was a Dylan original that was recorded for Slow Train Coming but was ultimately left off it.

In the final verse, Dylan makes a then-current but now obscure reference ("You may call me RJ, you may call me Ray"), paraphrasing the act of comedian Bill Saluga, who performed as "Raymond J. Johnson Jr."


As Dylan's first release during his "gospel" period, "Gotta Serve Somebody" was met with divisive reviews; John Lennon famously criticized the song and wrote a parody titled "Serve Yourself" in response.[4][5] Nevertheless, the single won the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male in 1979.[3] The effort is still Dylan's latest top 40 hit on the Hot 100, peaking at #24 and remaining on the chart for 12 weeks.[6][7] In 2016, Rolling Stone magazine featured the song as #43 on its list of "100 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs."[8]


Shortly after the song's release, Devo, in disguise as a Christian-based cover band, Dove, performed Gotta Serve Somebody regularly on the last leg of their Duty Now For The Future tour,[9] featuring Devo mascot Booji Boy on vocals, stating "We used to do devil music like that band Devo, but then Jerry (...) sat on a Bob Dylan Record." Parodying Dylan's recent conversion.[10]


  1. ^ a b Feasting on the Gospels: Chapters 1-9 by Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson. Page 214.
  2. ^ "Gotta Serve Somebody | The Official Bob Dylan Site". Retrieved .
  3. ^ a b "1979 - The 22nd Annual Grammy Awards -". Retrieved .
  4. ^ "Remembering Bob Dylan and John Lennon's Wild '66 Limo Ride". Rolling Stone. Retrieved .
  5. ^ "John Lennon - Serve Yourself Acetate". Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Readers' Poll: The 10 Worst Bob Dylan Songs". Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Bob Dylan Gotta Serve Somebody Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "100 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved .
  9. ^ "DEVO Live Guide - 1979". Retrieved .
  10. ^ Dove, the Band of Love - "Gotta Serve Somebody", retrieved

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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