Don’t you try me now: The basement gang start to get it together

By Tony Attwood

Disc two of the Basement Complete set ends with Dylan continuing to play the honkytonk piano which really does sound desperately in need of a friendly piano tuner, in an utterly standard 12 bar blues format accompanied by organ and lead guitar.

As ever we have a haiku provided ….

Don’t you play with him.
You might enjoy breaking hearts,
But yours might be next.

The haikuist (or whatever a person who writes haiku’s is called) described the song has having nonsense lyrics and summarises it as

It’s one more song about a guy warning a girl not to mess around with his delicate heart.

Heylin takes this in a slightly different way and suggests that Dylan was, at this stage of the Basement Tapes process just picking up on catch phrases that he could use, saying “he seems to be grabbing ideas from song titles”.

He notes that James Brown wrote a song called “Try Me” and that it gave Dylan two songs at this point: “Try me little girl” and our subject matter here, “Don’t you try me now.”

I doubt that Dylan was actually thinking about this phrase overtly – most likely it was just one of many in his head that he could pluck out at any time and try in a song.  And what we do see throughout this phase in his life is he is just playing with words.

I would never want to argue that many of the songs don’t have profound meanings within them, but I think we should be reminded that just occasionally Dylan provides us with songs that are just words and sounds – they are almost the musical equivalent of the abstract painting.

The following lyrics are provided on the clear understanding that I am awaiting someone more in tune with Dylan’s voice who can turn them into something more meaningful.  If I catch anyone laughing at the back of the class I shall be most annoyed.


Don’t you play with me we’re now wasting time

Don’t you play with me, we’re now wasting time

But you may think you’re having a good time oh no you’re just having a good bit of time (?)


Don’t you try me now, don’t you try and break my heart

Don’t you try me now, don’t you try and break my heart

Oh may think your’e having a good time but you just waiting for me (?) from the start


Well I ????

I rose my ??? feeling right on time

Don’t you try me now, don’t you try and break my heart

Oh yes you may think your having a good time but you just wake me ?? start


Well have me on the table I feel my guitar

Holding on me feel ??? whimp like a hollow dog (?!)

Don’t you try me now, don’t you try and break my heart

Oh you might think you’re coming after me but you know you’re just playing a part

Instrumental and end


And thus ends disc two of the Complete Basement Tapes.   I’ll continue with disc three shortly.

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