Only a Pawn in Their Game

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"Only a Pawn in Their Game"
Song by Bob Dylan
from the album The Times They Are a-Changin'
ReleasedJanuary 13, 1964
RecordedAugust 7, 1963
GenreFolk, blues
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Tom Wilson
The Times They Are a-Changin' track listing

"Only a Pawn in Their Game" is a song written by Bob Dylan about the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Showing support for the African Americans during the American Civil Rights Movement. It was released on Dylan's The Times They Are a-Changin' album of 1964. The song suggests that Evers' killer, Byron De La Beckwith does not bear sole blame for his crime, as he was only a pawn of rich white elites who incensed poor whites against blacks so as to distract them from their position on "the caboose of the train" in order create a more 'perfect white American society'.


Dylan first performed "Only a Pawn in Their Game" at a voter registration rally in Greenwood, Mississippi. The song refers to the murder of Medgar Evers, who was the Mississippi leader of the NAACP. Civil rights activist Bernice Johnson would later tell critic Robert Shelton that "'Pawn' was the very first song that showed the poor white was as victimized by discrimination as the poor black. The Greenwood people didn't know that Pete Seeger, Theodore Bikel and Dylan were well known. (Seeger and Bikel were also present at the registration rally.) They were just happy to be getting support. But they really like Dylan down there in the cotton country."

Dylan sang the song at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, at which Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.[1]

Other versions[edit]

The singer Morrissey released a cover version of the song on his 2019 album California Son.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Greenman, Ben (August 28, 2013). "Dream Songs: The Music of the March on Washington". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 28, 2013.

External links[edit]