My Woman She’s a Leavin’. Bob Dylan’s disc 5 on the Complete really is worth it.

By Tony Attwood

There is a moment at the start of disc five of the Complete Basement Tapes that really makes me feel that Dylan has got over all the larking around and just playing other people’s songs for the hell of it.  The band start playing what to me (and perhaps some others, but I haven’t tested this theory, so I will just say “to me”) sounds like the opening of “It takes a lot to laugh it takes a train to cry”.

I would be willing to bet a pound or a dollar or a euro that the band thought that was what Dylan was going to sing.   He lets it roll on and on, and then suddenly starts singing “Blowing in the Wind”, and of course the band follow.   OK I don’t know if actually takes deals like this but one could try.

As a version of the classic, it doesn’t really work for me.  But it shows a level of imagination, and with the band really together.

It is just one of the tricks that are played on Disc Five.   The next is “One Too Many Mornings.”  On the credits it says “Lead vocals are sung by Bob Dylan” but I bet that dollar / pound/ euro again that it isn’t Bob in the first verse of “One Too Many”.  And I’ll also affirm that this song has been rehearsed and rehearsed as the timing and chord sequence is changed from the original album version.

In short disc five ain’t nothing like the previous four discs.  This is focused and tried out, both in the reworking of Dylan’s compositions, as well as in the traditional songs like “Ain’t no more cane”.  And I mention all this because if you have bought a copy of the Complete and thought “I can’t take no more of this” and given up after “Bourbon Street” dig out the box, dust it down, and start on disk five.

Anyway, my job here is to consider the Dylan originals that we haven’t covered elsewhere on this site and that leads me to “My woman she’s a leaving”.  Now I wouldn’t say this one track is worth the cost of the whole box, but if you’ve got the box, or know someone who has it, go and play this.   It is great.   Really great.

Bob doing that rock-blues 12 bar thing that he used to be able to do so brilliantly, with a bunch of musicians who really know what he is up to.   I won’t put that pound / dollar/ euro on it but I suspect you will play it again and again.

My Woman She’s a-Leavin’ of course has a haiku and it reads thus:

Woman’s hard to please.
Her man is a rolling stone,
And now she’s leaving.

In the end the Haiku writer sees it as “entertaining background music”.   I bow to his dedication with the haikus and his lyrics – which I reproduce below but I can’t share his opinion.   At this moment, for me, Bob was really back on track.

And not just with this song but the next track, Santa-Fe which I have already reviewed.   Like I say, do not judge disc 5 by anything else that is on the Complete Box.

And just to point out that the piece is rehearsed, there is not a straight 12 bar blues – there is a little variation at one point.  No one makes a mistake.  The guys knew what Bob was up to.

Broken out and fighting
But she’s all right out of of need
And she’s already mourning my hand
She’s open as some pages 
But I don’t have the need
But she’s already cheating my stand
Every time you morning plea
I open this heart to please
But she’s already held me in my hand

Now early in the morning she’s a hot and a hand to hold
I’m a rolling stone of desire
Well bless my potato she’s hungry but she’s feeling
And she’s all mashed up like to die
But she’s don’t leave me no combination
And I don’t need no congregation
And she hear them preaching on the fire


Well xxxxxx 
hear no bell a ring man
well it ain’t good bye
Reason on the panda mama’s kitchen
But she’s all messed up with desire
Well I hate to be no streetin’
But my woman she’s a leavin
And my feel no stand she’s no liar


Actually I made one little change there, but it would be churlish to say I’d really done anything particular to improve the transcription.

If you’ve got the box set go and play disc five.  If not, go and find a mate who has got it and borrow disc five.  It’s worth it.   And just leave the disc running.  Disc five is fun.

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