Bob Dylan – Gotta Serve Somebody

This song comes with a worksheet to use in the classroomPractice the modal verbsmay” and “might” as well as “jobs” in your ESL class with this song, Gotta Serve Somebody by Bob Dylan. There are almost 50 examples of “may” and “might” and 13 different professions mentioned in these song lyrics.

Note: The lyrics below are those of the video embedded on this page. Other versions of the song may have different lyrics.

There is a suggestion on how to use this song in your ESL classes below, but for more ideas, click here.

YouTube player

Lyrics

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, oh yes you are
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a rock ’n’ roll addict prancing on the stage
You may have money and drugs at your commands, women in a cage
You may be a business man or some high degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody,
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may live in a mansion or you may be living in a dome
You may own guns and you might own tanks
You may be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be working in a barber shop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, you may be somebody’s heir.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
You might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You may be eating caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the cold floor, or in a king-sized bed.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Suggested activity: fill the gaps

Download this exercise (PDF)

Look at the words in the list. Would you like to be one of these people? Why? addict, ambassador, businessman, chief, city councilman, construction worker, devil, doctor, heavyweight champion, landlord, mistress, preacher, rich, socialite, state trooper, thief.

For example: I don’t want to be a businessman because it’s a boring job, but I want to be rich.

Can you guess where some of the words go from the context? Listen to the song and put the words in the list into the correct gaps.

You may be an 1__________ to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the 2__________ of the world
You may be a 3__________ with a long string of pearls.

Chorus
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the
4__________ or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

You may be a rock ’n’ roll 5__________ prancing on the stage
You may have money & drugs at your commands, women in a cage
You may be a 6__________ or some high degree 6__________
They may call you 7__________ or they may call you 8__________.

You may be a 9__________, you might be a young turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be 10__________ or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name.

You may be a 11__________ working on a home
You may live in a mansion or you may be living in a dome
You may own guns and you might own tanks
You may be somebody’s 12__________, you might even own banks

You may be a 13__________ with your spiritual pride
You may be a 14__________ taking bribes on the side
You may be working in a barber shop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s 15__________, you may be somebody’s heir.

You may like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
You might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You may be eating caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the cold floor, or in a king-sized bed.

Bob DylanAmerican singer-songwriter (born 1941)

Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter. Often considered to be one of the greatest songwriters in history, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture over his 60-year career. He rose to prominence in the 1960s, when songs such as “The Times They Are a-Changin’ (1964) became anthems for the civil rights and antiwar movements. Initially modeling his style on Woody Guthrie’s folk songs, Robert Johnson’s blues, and what he called the “architectural forms” of Hank Williams’s country songs, Dylan added increasingly sophisticated lyrical techniques to the folk music of the early 1960s, infusing it “with the intellectualism of classic literature and poetry”. His lyrics incorporated political, social, and philosophical influences, defying pop music conventions and appealing to the burgeoning counterculture.