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PostPosted: Sun September 20th, 2009, 18:45 GMT 

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Maybe it is simply a love song.

One of Dylan's major songwriting techniques at that time was to take an older song and give it a "modernized" shape and usually there are certain touching points or parallels between the old and Dylan's new lyrics, for example in "I Once Loved A Lass" - "Ballad In Plain D", "The Last Letter" - "To Ramona", "Pretty Polly" - "Hollis Brown" etc etc.

On BIABH there is "Subterranean Homesick Blues" that is derived from "Too Much Monkey Business" (Chuck Berry) and "Maggie's Farm" owes a at least a little to "Down On Penny's Farm".

"She Belongs To Me" seems to be based on "Betty And Dupree" (or "Dupree Blues" or "Frank Dupree"), a murder ballad from the 20s (based on a real story). During the Folk Revival era it was performed by everybody from Dave van Ronk to P,P&M. One set of lyrics:

Betty told Dupree, "I want a diamond ring." (2x)
Dupree told Betty, "l'Il give you most anything."

He said, "Lie down, little Betty, see what tomorrow brings," (2x)
It may bring sunshine, may bring you that diamond ring."

Then he got his pistol, went to the jewelry store,(2x)
Killed a policeman and he wounded four or five more.

Then he went to the post office to get the evening mail (2x)
Sheriff caught poor Dupree and put him in that old Atlanta jail.

Dupree's mother said to Betty, "Looka' here what you done done."(2x)
"Made my boy rob and steal, now he is gonna be hung"

Betty went to the jailhouse, she could not see Dupree (2x)
She told the jailer, "Tell him these words for me."

"I come to see you, baby, I could not see your face." (2x)
"You know I love you, but I cannot take your place."

Sail on, sail on, sail on, Dupree, sail on. (2x)
You don't mind sailing, you'll be gone so doggone long.


This is a fellow who is so addicted to the girl that he robs the jewellry store, kills some people and in the end is executed. There are several touching points: the ring, "proud to steal her anything she sees", "the law can't touch her at all" (she made him rob and steal but she won't be legally liable for that),

I think that Dylan simply took the basic topic of "Dupree" (sexual dependency, I don't know if it's the right term for this in English language) and gave it a lighter, more humorous, more ironic shape (and the "walking antique" should be easily understandable in this context).

The title "She Belongs To Me" on one hand means that he is really proud to be with that lady and I don't think it's out of character. But on the other hand it's surely one of his "famous reversals" and also pure irony. The way he describes this relationship seems to indicate that "I Belong To Her" would have been much more appropriate.

And, by the way, could it be that "Just Like A Woman" is part 2 of that story?


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PostPosted: Sun September 20th, 2009, 23:31 GMT 
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theunwavedhand wrote:
Yes, TruthIsObscure, I was thinking about that US flag performance and the song's title, both of which seem to run counter to a US critique interpretation. Dunno about the flag, but I think many people in Europe (or UK, anyway) were regarding criticism of US foreign policy (and certain other aspects of US society) to imply a general rejection of everything the US stands for. That would have pissed him off, since his whole thing is the US people's music.

As for the title, it doesn't gell with the song's lyrics at all. They portray an aloof, self-sufficient, somewhat controlling person who seems to be using people. She wouldn't belong to anybody. Unless he's showing off (and guess what - she's my girlfriend, folks!), which sounds out of character. More likely he's doing one of his famous reversals, you know I was so much older then, the first one now shall later be last, and so on, but my guess is as good as yours.

But "steal", and "bow down to her" and "salute her"; you need to explain those words. And also, who is "you"? You start out standing, proud to steal her anything she sees. . . you are a walking antique. A simple 'portrait' interpretation won't work.

I think you are putting more into the meaning of the song than is there. Next you will be telling us that Wiggle Wiggle refers to the Taliban.


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PostPosted: Mon September 21st, 2009, 03:24 GMT 

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Thanks for that very useful insight, Truthie. So basically you're saying that "you" is Dupree, or a Dupree-based character? That would explain it, and also a lot of the other stuff I mentioned. But reality has many heads, and one can reinterpret a song (or anything else, for that matter) in order to make it express other things, too.

It does raise a question I have long pondered. In this song a political interpretation only becomes more explicit with the final verse. Until then she's merely an alluring person. But "bow down to her on Sundays" and "salute her" seem to nudge us towards a political interpretation (remember the context: "All my songs are protest songs". He had a fan base of more-or-less politocos, whether he liked it or not.) This "last verse" effect occurs elsewhere. Is it on Idiot Wind and Tom Thumb's Blues? Sorry, my brain has difficulty matching lyrics to titles at this point. Anyway, I wondered whether this was a kind of bone thrown to certain dogs: "Here's a political verse for ya!" Now, that's in character!


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PostPosted: Mon September 21st, 2009, 03:29 GMT 

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oldmanemu wrote:
I think you are putting more into the meaning of the song than is there. Next you will be telling us that Wiggle Wiggle refers to the Taliban.

Well, I don't think there's any way of establishing what meaning actually is "there" other than by interpreting at and debating whether the interpretation stands up in the face of the content. That's the problem.


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PostPosted: Mon September 21st, 2009, 03:35 GMT 
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it is just a simple song!


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PostPosted: Mon September 21st, 2009, 10:57 GMT 

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oldmanemu wrote:
it is just a simple song!

It's just a song, but simple it ain't.


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PostPosted: Mon September 21st, 2009, 13:11 GMT 
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theunwavedhand wrote:
oldmanemu wrote:
it is just a simple song!

It's just a song, but simple it ain't.

how is it complicated ?


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PostPosted: Mon September 21st, 2009, 13:35 GMT 

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The meaning of the lyrics is elusive


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PostPosted: Mon September 21st, 2009, 22:50 GMT 
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theunwavedhand wrote:
The meaning of the lyrics is elusive

Maybe to some people , however I have been listening to that song since 1968 (not continiously) and feel it is easy to understand.


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PostPosted: Wed September 23rd, 2009, 02:41 GMT 

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oldmanemu wrote:
theunwavedhand wrote:
The meaning of the lyrics is elusive

Maybe to some people , however I have been listening to that song since 1968 (not continiously) and feel it is easy to understand.

Me too (since 1965), but what I understood turns out to be rather different from what people here have been saying. Also, TruthIsObscure's reference to Betty and Dupree adds an unexpected insight into the song.


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PostPosted: Wed September 23rd, 2009, 03:15 GMT 
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possibly


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PostPosted: Wed September 23rd, 2009, 13:13 GMT 

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and quite possibly I'm overestimating Bob


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PostPosted: Thu January 19th, 2012, 04:23 GMT 
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Beautiful song.

But you will wind up peeking through her keyhole
Down upon your knees


And maybe I'm just a pervert, but this sounds like a double entendre. :?


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PostPosted: Thu January 19th, 2012, 18:26 GMT 

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On the other hand -- I said this on some other discussion and I can't find it now -- the "on your knees" also has the most obvious interpretation of prayer or veneration.

This tells against the political reading but not against the love-song reading. I think Dylan is using Christian and other religious imagery to amplify his love statement; as if the love can and should have a devotional dimension.

Stanza 1: "take the dark out of the nighttime" etc. The first Biblical description of God comes to mind, with God's making light and subsequently making night and day; a suggestion that God can put light here or there at will, as these lines also imply.

Stanza 2: As I said, being on your knees is devotional. And note that it's contrasted not only with standing but with being "proud" and with stealing -- sinful conditions.

Stanza 3: Here the general religious atmosphere takes on specifically Christian associations. First, "no place to fall." Was there a human being who didn't participate in the Fall? Only the one that had a non-human Parent "nobody's child." And that one is associated with preaching limitations to the Law. Christianity is supposed to go beyond and above the traditional law. "The law can't touch her at all."

Stanza 4: The Egyptian reference is obscure to me. I don't know what it may be alluding to, although as Long Johnny says about Dylan in general, a lot of the allusions get emptied out so as to maximize their allusiveness. Egyptian magic is at work here; maybe the belief by some of Jesus' contemporaries that he had gone to Egypt and used magic spells to cast out demons?

I suspect that "you are a walking antique" is Dylan's way of talking about his own place in a Christian world. The Jews were rendered followers of the "older religion" and the one that had been supplanted by Christianity. He's an antique. And the most famous representative of the Jew in Christian Europe is the wandering Jew, i.e. the walking antique.

Stanza 5: After the previous stanza's retreat from direct Christian references, this closing one gathers them together more overtly. "Bow down to her on Sunday" should be the most obvious line. One doesn't bow to the state on Sunday. In fact, I can't think of one time I was asked to bow down to the US. You stand for the pledge of allegiance rather than bow or kneel, but "she" in this song inspires bowing and kneeling.

You do salute the US on its birthday, but you also salute Jesus on Christmas Day; so that one works for both interpretations.

The final lines are more far-flung assocations, but again I think they can be given some sense on the Christian reading of "her" though not on the political reading. Halloween is a day of the dead, spirits rising out of their graves. In Christianity this is the end of the world as described in Revelation. The world ends with angels blowing trumpets.

But from that chilling association with her power over the speaker, we go to one that is homey and even banal. A drum on Christmas? Yes, like the one played by the little drummer boy.


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PostPosted: Thu January 19th, 2012, 21:37 GMT 
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SHE BELONGS TO ME

Robert Shelton

Dylan may have invented the anti-love song. In the past, pop had dealt almost exclusively with sophomoric love. Dylan considerably matured the form, without hesitating to hit back at women who hurt, disappointed or confused his narrators. Irony was always his best weapon. If this song, in quite symmetrical blues form with orderly rhyme scheme and line length, is not partly about Baez, then there must be some unknown woman artist to whom Dylan gave an Egyptian ring. “She never stumbles / She’s got no place to fall” is echoed in verse three from a traditional folk-blues, I’m A Stranger Here. Dylan’s first verse contains the seed of his later film title, Don’t Look Back, itself the title of a John Lee Hooker blues. The song’s better words are couched in a gentle, warm melody and the phrasing is relaxed – the looping, swaying tempo has waltz-like grace. Engineering brought Dylan’s presence physically closer. Electric guitar and mouth-harp embroidery sweeten this bitter song.

Paul Williams

She Belongs To Me is a fine performance, one of those strange songs that communicates something very different by its sound than by what it says in its lyrics. Going by the sound, this is one of Dylan's more tender love songs. Going by the lyrics, it is about that man-eater from room 103 in his New Orleans Rag. This has puzzled Dylan fans enough to have prompted dozens of fascinating complicated theories of what the song is really about, and there will be more as the years go by. Love Minus Zero / No Limit, often mentioned in the same breath as She Belongs To Me, actually is a sweet song in words as well as tune and sound, and I think it is the only song on the album that might possibly be for Sara. It is often been pointed out that Dylan praises "his love" for what she is not. It must have been comforting for him, as 1965 came on like thunder, to have someone around him who knew "there's no success like failure, and that failure's no success at all." ("Everybody wants you to be just like them," he sang in his instant classic Maggie's Farm; what's also true is they want you to be just like they would be if they could only do it as well as they think you can.)

Clinton Heylin

Published lyrics: Writings And Drawings; Lyrics 1985; Lyrics 2004.
Known studio recordings: Studio A, New York, 13 January 1965 – 2 takes [NDH – tk.2]; 14 January 1965, afternoon – 2 takes [BIABH~tk.2]; 14 January 1965, evening.
First known performance: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 27 March 1965.

“The songs I was writing last year, songs like Ballad In Plain D, they were what I call one-dimensional songs, but my new songs I'm trying to make more three-dimensional, you know. There's more symbolism. They're written on more than one level.” Dylan, April 1965.

One cannot discount the possibility that She Belongs To Me and Love Minus Zero / No Limit derived their inspiration from two entirely different dames (after all, while falling ever more under Sara's spell, the man still invited Baez to come up and see him sometime). But it would be entirely in keeping with this new-found duality if each song was an equal and opposite depiction of the same “gypsy gal” (as per Abandoned Love and Sara, both recorded at the same 1975 session – with the lady in question in attendance).

Each certainly received due diligence and a real attention to detail at the January 19654 sessions. After acoustic remakes on the 13 January 1965, they acquired instrumental embellishment the following day, as Dylan attempted to record them with a full band. He then got rid of most embellishments when, in the evening, he laid the songs down with just guitars and bass. On the released album – where the songs are separated from each other by a single female farmer – the performances reflect each other lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally.

The words, though, tell entirely different tales. On Love Minus Zero / No Limit, his “love” comes to him at song's end “like some raven / at my window with a broken wing,” whereas the artistic alter ego who belongs to him (actually vice versa) continues to demand that he should “bow down to her on Sunday” and “salute her when her birthday comes.” This altogether more capricious lady would introduce proceedings on every night of the 1966 world tour, the singer's devotion expressed in a series of soaring harmonica breaks. After this, though, it became an altogether rarer incursion into other nightly rituals. Finally, in 1992, it became a soft-shoe shuffle. In the meantime She Belongs To Me spawned many a daughter, as Dylan's attraction to “witchy women” continued unchecked.

Andy Gill

The two love songs on Bringing It All I Back Home are decidedly different in character from Dylan's earlier romantic compositions. Just as the wistful longing of early songs like Girl Of The North Country had been replaced by the bitter recrimination and melancholy of It Ain't Me, Babe and To Ramona on Another Side Of Bob Dylan, so that is in turn supplanted here by an ambivalent tribute that veers between acquiescent devotion and subliminally mild contempt, the latter cunningly concealed by the gentleness of Dylan's delivery and the sensitivity of the backing. The key to the song is the bluntly possessive title, which runs so counter to Dylan's anti-materialist attitude that it can only be intended ironically, suggesting that the song's apparent affection should likewise be taken with a pinch of salt.

The references in She Belongs To Me to the subject's status as an artist and her ownership of an Egyptian ring suggest that it was written for Joan Baez, to whom Dylan had once given just such a ring. The song pays due tribute to her self-assertiveness and unbreakable moral conviction ("She never stumbles / She's got no place to fall"), but characterizes her interest in the narrator as that of a dilettante art collector whose gaze effectively transforms the object of her affections into an antique – presumably a reference to Baez's patronage of Dylan, her desire to keep him as her pet protest singer, rather than let him develop according to his own desires. Even the apparently obsequious devotion of the final verse masks a condemnation of a lover whose obsessive demands for compliments and attention have fatally wearied the relationship.

Dylan and Joan Baez's relationship had been eroding for the past year, but as with the earlier situation between Dylan and Suze Rotolo, he had not been able to call it quits. Instead, he allowed the relationship to deteriorate slowly, until she could stand no more and was forced to break things off. Joan Baez had had misgivings for some time about the divergent direction their careers appeared to be taking, which were crystallized when he suggested to her that they play at Madison Square Garden. "I'm scared," she told him. "I think what it means is that you'll be the rock 'n' roll king, and I'll be the peace queen." Dylan scoffed at her fear, but she was right – while her sense of liberal concern expanded to accommodate the diverse needs of her audience, he had come to the realization that to accept responsibility for "those kids" would stifle his muse, that he would become a walking antique unless he cast off all responsibilities except for those he had for his art.

Baez dates the watershed point of their relationship to a bi-coastal telephone conversation they had in 1964 during which, while they were joking about getting married, she had demurred, saying it would never work out. From that point, she claims, Dylan's attitude toward her changed, eventually coming to a head on the 1965 tour of England covered in Don't Look Back. She had accepted his invitation to accompany him to Europe, believing it would be a reciprocation of her American shows, at which she had introduced him to her audience. But Dylan never invited her up on stage with him, leaving her forlornly in the wings as he basked in adulation. In the film, the distance between the two of them is plain to see in the hotel-room scenes where Joan Baez vainly serenades Dylan while he, oblivious, continues working on his book.

Worse still, the vicious banter that Dylan and Bob Neuwirth dealt in was increasingly aimed in her direction. In one of the film's cruelest scenes, after the three of them have traded Hank Williams songs in a backstage dressing-room, she admits to feeling tired. "I'm fagging out," she explains. "Let me tell you, sister," ripostes Neuwirth, quick as a flash, "you fagged out a long time ago." Then, stepping further over the mark of propriety, he says to Dylan, "Hey, she's got one of those see-through blouses that you don't even wanna." Unable to keep up with such insults, Joan flounces out of the room. Shortly afterward, things came to a head between Joan Baez and Dylan and, distraught, she left the tour and flew on to her parents' place in Paris.

Nigel Williamson

Despite the politically incorrect title, She Belongs To Me is one of Dylan’s most moving, if unconventional, love songs. That the lyric is partly about Joan Baez is made obvious in the line “She wears an Egyptian ring that sparkles before she speaks”. Dylan had indeed given her just such a ring, so perhaps the song title was ironic for the assertive Baez would never have submitted to belonging to any man.

Either way, the song pays tribute to her unswerving moral conviction (“She never stumbles, she’s got no place to fall”). But Dylan objects to her desire to keep him as her pet protest singer (“a walking antique”) and is wearied by her constant demands for flattery and attention (“bow down to her on Sunday”). Yet any sharpness in the lyric is juxtaposed against the unusual gentleness of Dylan’s vocal and the sensitivity of the backing, which possesses a delicacy far removed from the raucous nature of Subterranean Homesick Blues, recorded on the same night.

The opening line of the song provided the title of the film Don’t Look Back, shot on the tour of Britain in 1965, when the relationship between Dylan and Baez fell apart.

Paul Cable

As I have implied, I have no arguments over She Belongs To Me, the release version is superior in every way to the outtake. But it is still fair to say that the outtake is excellent. It loses a lot from not having the typewriter drum which graces the familiar version, but the vocal is great and so too is Langthorne's guitar which is slightly more rhythm oriented here and provides a loping-along effect in between each vocal line. It is beautiful guitar work – but Langthorne just does not quite attain the perfection he gets on the final take. Specifically, he does not achieve the climax that he gets on the latter, that superb phrase just before the start of the second line of the final verse where the guitar goes up in a manner that heralds that this has to be the last verse.

Mike Marqusee

In the ironically titled She Belongs to Me (the point of the song is that she does not), the unattainable woman is resented because she "never stumbles," "The Law can't touch her at all:" The "Bankers' nieces" are disparaged for seeking "perfection, / Expecting all the gifts that wise men bring."

Mojo 2005 Readers Poll #98

Bruce Johnston (The Beach Boys) – Mojo 100 Greatest Dylan Songs #53

I heard about Dylan from Jack Nitzsche’s wife Grazia who made me listen to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. It was not his voice, which was difficult to get comfortable with, it was his songs. What we were hearing on the radio at that time was great, highly-polished pop, like Goffin-King kind of songs, but Dylan was 180 degrees in the other direction. Then, when I heard She Belongs To Me, I was struck by the fact that it has such a natural groove. To me, a natural groove record would be something like Little Richard, rhythm and blues stuff, but here is this Greenwich Village folkie, who has turned the lyric-writing thought process upside down, and suddenly he is making songs with a natural groove. You could finger-pop on this track. Dylan’s melodies can be difficult to digest sometimes, because he is not a singer who writes, he is a writer who sings, but this has a great tune. Carl Wilson and I really loved She Belongs To Me. I remember in the Hilton Hawaiian Village hotel when we were playing Hawaii, and we had a record player in the suite and we just played it over and over and over.

John Cale

I always loved She Belongs To Me. Edie Sedgwick came from Woodstock, and was his girlfriend at one point. What he describes in She Belongs To Me is an idealised view of this vagabond princess that she was becoming at the time. It is a very odd topic for Dylan – this is about elegance, and elitism, and he kind of endorses it in this song. Generally when he writes about it, he uses it as a platform for putting down people. But this is gentle and tender.

Oliver Trager

She Belongs To Me, Dylan’s ironically titled, oft-quoted anti-love ballad to a diabolically mysterious woman, finds a manipulated singer spending the entire song trying to convince the listener that the object of his worship dioes not belong to him, even when it would seem just the opposite. Adding to the paradox is Dylan’s precious reading of the song both on its official release and in his many concert performances of it – the balmy melody contrasting with the bitter poetry and pathetic, ensnared situation.

She Belongs To Me is one of the earliest and best examples of Dylan maturing the love song, a genre that in popular music had, up to then, dealt mainly with the most superficial aspects of romance. With symmetry and precision, Dylan creates a camouflaged blues-waltz of pedestaled devotion that may at least be partly about Joan Baez and at least one other woman who wears an Egyptian ring and “can take the dark out of the nighttime and paint the daytime black”. His first verse (“She’s got everything she needs / She’s an artist, she don’t look back”) was echoed in the title of his film Don’t Look Back, itself the title of a John Lee Hooker blues. That motto, however, was first popularised by baseball pitcher Satchel Paige, a heroic / comic / tragic figure of the fabled Negro Leagues, who once said, “Don’t look back, something may be gaining on you.” By the song’s second verse, Dylan describes how this vamp can cut any man down to size (“You will start off standing / Proud to steal her anything she sees / But you’ll wind up peeking through her keyhole / Down upon your knees”) with the clarity of a man trapped in her boudoir. By the end, we get to the heart of the song’s irony and its title. In telling us that “She never stumbles, she’s got no place to fall / She’s nobody’s child, the law can’t touch her at all”, he seems to imply that this free spirit belongs to no one, including him.

Dylan began performing She Belongs To Me right after cutting it for Bringing It All Back Home, and it has endured (albeit with the occasional hiatus) as an acoustic concert presentation since then – as if to remind himself of just how bad things can get. The version released on Self Portrait is a live recording from the 1969 Isle of Wight concert. Some of the song’s roots may lie in I’m A Stranger Here, a traditional folk-blues that includes lines in its third verse that bear a striking resemblance to Dylan’s lines, “She never stumbles / She’s got no place to fall”.

Rick Nelson had a Top-40 hit with his single in 1969, and Elvis Presley reportedly sang She Belongs To Me in his 1970 concerts.

Roger Ford

This track sounds absolutely beautiful on the mono album, with the bass full and Dylan's voice subtle and warm. Having said that, I confess that the stereo versions do make it easier to tell that it is an acoustic string bass, not an electric, being played here; the texture of the instrument's sound is more easily distinguished, especially on the SACD mixes.

Perhaps to vary the song's dynamics a little, the original stereo mixing engineer decided to eliminate the bass and drums during the harmonica break which follows the third verse; they suddenly come back in as Dylan starts to sing again. The engineer who remixed the album for CD in 1987 clearly noticed this, because he (or she?) also greatly reduced the level of the string bass during the break; but the drums are left untouched. Michael Brauer, for the stereo and 5.1 SACD remixes, opted to leave both bass and drums at normal volume.

There is a second harmonica break at the end of the song, of course, but here none of the stereo mixes interfere with the bass and drums.

This song is another real treat on the SACD. It has a much richer sound than on the old CD, and Bruce Langhorne's electric guitar on the left and the string bass on the right , in particular, have a real presence.
While the stereo mixes generally slightly increase the lengths of tracks on the album as a whole, they make this particular track fractionally shorter than the mono - all except for the 5.1 mix, which neither adds nor subtracts.


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PostPosted: Sat August 29th, 2015, 17:19 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
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Location: City of Angels
A fun and funky version of this back before it became the more serious entry it is now of the Set...
He played it only once in 2007 and Bob actually played guitar on it!!
It's such a cool little rendition and the band sounds
awesome (especially Denny's intuitive responses to Dylan's 'playing')

Check it out!!

Sheffield England
April 14 2007
http://www.mediafire.com/listen/43e266q ... _To_Me.mp3


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PostPosted: Sun August 30th, 2015, 07:21 GMT 
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marker wrote:
A fun and funky version of this back before it became the more serious entry it is now of the Set...
He played it only once in 2007 and Bob actually played guitar on it!!
It's such a cool little rendition and the band sounds
awesome (especially Denny's intuitive responses to Dylan's 'playing')

Check it out!!

Sheffield England
April 14 2007
http://www.mediafire.com/listen/43e266q ... _To_Me.mp3


cool stuff, thank you. April 2007 was very good.


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PostPosted: Wed December 20th, 2017, 02:52 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
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Location: City of Angels
The Mighty Monkey Of Mim wrote:

One of my favorite live performances is the one from Stockton '06. Strong, deep singing and a GORGEOUS guitar solo by Denny on that big hollowbody Gibson he used to play.


I'd love to hear this Stockton perf Might Monkey, but that pretty much describes beautifully this amazing version
I discovered from Memphis a couple weeks after Stockton.
Only thing I'd add to your comments would be a really bluesy harp solo that Bob just kills.
He also does a bit of 'down singing' here which is fun:)

Memphis TN
April 24 2006
http://www.mediafire.com/file/d02f3yty3 ... _To_Me.mp3

And here's Ricky Nelson's lovely version:
https://youtu.be/MiogMC2kTxg


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