You Can Blow My Mind (if you want to) – Bob Dylan and Britta Lee Shain

By Tony Attwood

Unfortunately I can’t find an on line copy of this song so if you want to hear it you will have to invest 99p or a dollar or whatever it costs in your country to hear it.  It is a gentle slightly bouncy 12 bar blues.   The lyrics are below.

Britta Lee Shain, is reported as the girlfriend of Dylan’s assistant Gary Shafner, who had an affair with Bob Dylan in the 1987 European tour in autumn of that year.

Shain wrote a book, “Seeing The Real You At Last”, in which she says she was on the tour although there is no mention of any relationship with Dylan, and Heylin mentions the song in one of his books although doesn’t include it in “Still on the Road” which supposedly covers all of Dylan’s songs of the period.

That suggests Heylin thinks that Dylan either wrote none of it or just the music (for some odd reason he refused to list songs for which Dylan just wrote the music in his two volume “Songs of Bob Dylan”). 

But when the song was copyrighted on 27 April 2011 it was listed with a note that it was written in 1987 with Bob Dylan and Britta Lee Shain as authors of the lyrics, and also as the co-claimants of the copyright.

The song then appeared on the second album by Shain, “What The Heart Wants”, released in 2016.  One wonders why, if it was written with Dylan, which is quite a good selling point it was not recorded and released earlier.  As you can tell I am a trifle sceptical. 

There is an extract of the song on the Britta Lee Shain website.   Even if you don’t go any further the music is clear – it is a straight 12 bar blues although there is a middle 8 after two verses as the lyrics indicate

My head is spinnin’ round and round
My feet are flyin’ off the ground
You own my heart, my soul, my skin
You know I want to be with you
And you can blow my mind, if you want to

People watch when we’re not lookin’
Silhouettes flashing in the glass
Hot is hot, they know what’s cookin’
They know I want to eat you
And you can blow my mind, if you want to

I wasn’t looking when I found you
Now I’m blinded by your light
I’m happy with my arms around you
As evening sky fades into night

The odd man out stands by the roadside
What’s he selling, what’s he got?
The time is right for you at my side
If anyone knows about it, we do
And you can blow my mind, if you want to

I wasn’t looking when I found you
Now I’m blinded by your light
I’m happy with my arms around you
As evening sky fades into night

If I want you, and you want me
There is no room for someone else
It’s up to you to set him free
You know I wouldn’t cheat you
And you can blow my mind, if you want to

You strike a chord in me and I just want to play it
If something’s weighing’ on you, babe, why don’t you just say it?

If you love me and I love you
Better lay down the cards that you were dealt
Only one thing in this world rings true
Don’t make me come over there and teach you
And you can blow my mind, if you want to
You can blow my mind, if you want to

Britta Lee Shain’s book “Seeing the real you at last” is highly acclaimed by some, and the claim is oft made that “she was as close to Bob as anyone has ever been”.

But my job is not to review books but songs, and yes I could imagine Dylan knocking off that 12 bar blues with interludes in a couple of minutes on the tour.  But the lyrics?  If you feel that Dylan could have written

If you love me and I love you 
Better lay down the cards that you were dealt 
Only one thing in this world rings true 
Don’t make me come over there and teach you 

then fair enough you’ll buy into this as a Dylan song with Dylan words.  For me, it doesn’t ring true at all.   Although as I say, I can see Dylan taking these words and putting the gentle 12 bar blues into it, so maybe he wrote the music – which in effect means taking the 12 bar format and fixing it around the slightly odd number of beats and lines per verse.   But that’s about it.

I’ll list the song, but with a question mark.   And if you find a recording on line other than a paid for download let me know so we can link to it.

What else is on the site

You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

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We also have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

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11 Responses to You Can Blow My Mind (if you want to) – Bob Dylan and Britta Lee Shain

  1. Aaron G says:

    I could never find a link to the song and agree it is a very odd little song, maybe Bob wrote some of it…maybe none of it! Who knows. Her album contains a cover of Make You Feel My Love and a song written ‘for Bob’ no idea which one!

    Looking forward to your take on The New Basement Tapes album…20 tracks using newly discovered Dylan lyrics from 67 with music by Elvis Costello, Jim Jones, Marcus Mumford. Best tracks are When I get my hands on you, Married To My Hack, Stranger, Card Shark and Quick as a flash imo

  2. L FYFFE says:

    Are you suggesting that Dylan gives permission to use his name as if he were co-writer for a ‘selling point’ as long as his name is put officially down as co-copyrigher ?

    Shouldn’t more evidence be forthcoming than it ‘doesn’t ring true’ before the ‘face value’ of the copyright document is dismissed in that Dylan could very well have at the very least suggested a word or two or whatever.

    Indeed, Dylan himself has given co-copyright credit for doing just that, has he not?

  3. L FYFFE says:

    ie, ‘Better lay down the cards that you were dealt’ is Dylanesque, but who knows for sure who wrote these words other than Dylan and Britta themselves??

  4. L FYFFE says:

    I’m playing Devil’s Advocate …

    Dylan later writes ‘You can’t win with a losing hand’

  5. L FYFFE says:

    What’s more, Britta knows her Dylan’ songs well before she starts singing:

    She’s an unforsaken beauty
    And don’t trust anyone
    And I wish I was beside her
    But I’ m not there, I’m gone
    (Bob Dylan: I’m Not There)

    Britta’s response to those lyrics:

    But I’ve got news for you
    There’s nothin’ I wouldn’t do
    I’m here
    And that’s where I’m gonna stay
    (Britta Lee Shain: I’m Here)

  6. Kieran says:

    Good find, Tony, but yeah, those lyrics are awful. Should be listed as, Lyrics by Google Translate….

  7. L FYFFE says:

    Dylan also writes: ‘Now, somebody’s got to show their hand.’

  8. L FYFFE says:

    Dylan’s playing card references are from ‘Up To Me’ and ‘Things Have Changed.’

  9. boots says:

    Dylan has written his fair share of awful lyrics.

  10. TonyAttwood says:

    Boots, I’d agree, but then so has every writer of significance.

  11. Aaron G says:

    I think Boots is implying that just because the lyrics are bad doesn’t necessarily mean that he couldn’t have had at least a hand in writing them!

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