Bob Dylan is a musical poet, spending a lifetime delivering on the very definition of folk music by bringing us the news of the day in bleakly hopeful and oftentimes downright heartbreaking lyricism. He’s a fine musician, but there’s no doubt his medium is words; honest, pure, curious. Today we celebrate Bob Dylan’s 77th birthday with a list of 17 of his best pieces of lyrical wisdom.

“Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content.”
Brownsville Girl, Knocked Out Loaded, 1986

“To live outside the law you must be honest.”
Absolutely Sweet Marie, Blonde on Blonde, 1966

“The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein’ seen, but that’s just because he doesn’t want to turn into some machine.”
The Man In Me, New Morning, 1970

“Take care of all your memories, for you cannot relive them.”
Open the Door, Homer, The Basement Tapes, 1975

“Democracy don’t rule the world, you’d better get that in your head. This world is ruled by violence, but I guess that’s better left unsaid.”
Union Sundown, Infidels, 1983

“You that build the bombs, you that hide behind the walls, you that hide behind desks, I just want you to know, I can see through your masks.”
Masters of War, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1963

“When you cease to exist, then who will you blame?”
Angelina, The Bootleg Series, 1991

“Old, young, age don’t carry weight, it doesn’t matter in the end.”
Floater (Too Much to Ask), Love and Theft, 2001

“Well I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them.”
Maggie’s Farm, Bringing It All Back Home, 1965

“It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart.”
Idiot Wind, Blood on the Tracks, 1975

“When you’re sad and when you’re lonely, and you haven’t got a friend, just remember that death is not the end.”
Death is Not the End, Down in the Groove, 1988

“I’m not sorry for nothin’ I’ve done, I’m glad I fought, I only wish we’d won.”
Honest With Me, Love and Theft, 2001

“When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”
Like A Rolling Stone, Highway 61 Revisited, 1965

“Why wait any longer for the one you love when he’s standing in front of you?”
Lay, Lady, Lady, Nashville Skyline, 1969

“Yesterday’s just a memory, tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be.”
Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight, Infidels, 1983

“Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”
The Times They Are A-changin’, 1964

“You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.”
Mississippi, Love and Theft, 2001