Don’t think twice

Sometimes it is a little too easy to forget just how perfect some of the early Dylan works are, and that is why the demo version of Don’t think twice is so welcome on the “No Direction Home” album. Beautifully understated, lovingly caressed, it seems the most perfect version of the song ever.

This is the start of the goodbye songs that occupied Dylan so much in the early years – “You just kind of wasted my precious time” – so much the precursor of It ain’t me babe and the other early songs of that genre.

From the instrumental introduction there is the feeling of oneness between Dylan, the song and the guitar. Through this early version you feel for him, and you even feel for the girl who is cast as the outsider – Dylan walks off with the guitar and the song, the girl has nothing save humiliation.

After all, “You’re the reason I’m travelling on” is one of the harshest lines anyone has ever sung to a woman.

It is such a perfectly simple song – the simple strophic verse-verse-verse, which makes the words become understated. Sometimes it seems that “I give her my heart but she wanted my soul” needs to be accompanied by a clash of drums, with possibly some lighting and thunder to help us along.

And this simplicity is why it can work. It is so beautifully understated. Even though “You just wasted my precious time” we have that simple chord structure and elegant melody. How could someone write such a beautiful farewell song?

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2 Responses to Don’t think twice

  1. mel kinder says:

    I purchased “Freewheeling” in the Fall of 1964, having seen Bon Dylan at Newport that past Summer. But it was not until Feb., ’65 that I was given a great insight into Dylan’s early life. My wife and I had invited my high school civics teacher, Dr. Walter Schuling and his wife to dinner, and we had introduced them to this album. When we were halfway through “Don’t Think Twice” they both were very startled. “This guy’s from Hibbing”, they both said. How did they know? It was their hometown. The rhythm and the harmonica sound was that of the ‘narrow gauge’ coal train that moved through Hibbing. They were from Hibbing and they later attended the University of Minnesota where Walt was awarded a Phd. in Far Eastern History. Because it was the McCarthy period, Walt ended up in San Bernardino teaching in a progressive public high school in 1953. The Schuling’s had never heard of the author of “Blowin’ in the Wind” , but they remembered his father’s store!
    It was at that moment that I realized that I was going to depend upon many other people, my teachers, my colleagues , my friends, and my future students (both young and adult) to understand the meanings of Bob Dylan’s art.
    When in 1973 I met a ‘budding’ “Dylanoligist” here in Santa Cruz, Ca., who later was caught going through Dylan’ trash in NYC, I realized my collective insights were more valid and insightful than what was being published.
    For example: In a graduate English class in the Summer of 1965, a fellow student, older than I, pointed out that the cover of “Bringing it all Back Home” was filled with references to many of the songs in the album. The most obvious ‘artifact’ was a Cellini freeze on the mantle of the fireplace of Diana at the moment of turning her “peeper” into a stag, thence being killed by his own hunting dogs. She’s the “artist”!
    He also pointed out to me that that “Crimson Flames tide through my ears” is the vision of Att. General Katzenbach and Gov. Wallace of Alabama standing in the “doorway” of the University, The Harvard “Crimson” vs. the Crimson Tide.
    More, later.

  2. Thank you for a great piece of interesting and informative writing. This link is included in The Bob Dylan Project at:'t-Think-Twice,-It's-All-Right (Additional Information)
    Play every version of every song performed or written by Bob Dylan plus notable interpretations legally for free…

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