Gotta Serve Somebody

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"Gotta Serve Somebody"
Gotta Serve Somebody cover.jpg
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Slow Train Coming
B-side"Trouble in Mind"
ReleasedAugust 20, 1979
RecordedMay 4, 1979
Muscle Shoals Sound Studios
GenreRock, gospel
LabelColumbia Records
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)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.[1] It won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male in 1979.[2]


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.


As Dylan's first release during his "gospel" period, "Gotta Serve Somebody" was met with divisive reviews; John Lennon famously criticized the song and released a parody titled "Serve Yourself" in response.[3][4] Nevertheless, the single won the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male in 1979.[2] 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.[5][6] In 2016, Rolling Stone magazine featured the song as #43 on its list of "100 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs."[7]


As of 2015 the song still enjoys airplay, and has been covered by Mavis Staples, Etta James, Willie Nelson, Nichole Nordeman, Booker T. & the M.G.'s and various blues musicians including Tommy Castro.

In pop culture[edit]

The song was featured in the movie The Ultimate Gift, in an episode of the series The Sopranos, and in an episode of the series Billions.


  1. ^ "Gotta Serve Somebody | The Official Bob Dylan Site". Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  2. ^ a b "1979 - The 22nd Annual Grammy Awards -". Retrieved 2014-06-30.
  3. ^ "Remembering Bob Dylan and John Lennon's Wild '66 Limo Ride". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  4. ^ "John Lennon – Serve Yourself Acetate". Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  5. ^ "Readers' Poll: The 10 Worst Bob Dylan Songs". Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  6. ^ "Bob Dylan Gotta Serve Somebody Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  7. ^ "100 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-06-30.