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?