Bob Dylan — don’t mess with him in the romance department. If you do, you’re likely to have a song written about you, and odds are, you’re not gonna like it.
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Sometimes it seems like the only women on Bob Dylan’s good side are the ones in his rear view mirror. The number of love interests who’ve gotten the reverential treatment in Dylan’s songs make for a short list (the title character in “Sara,” Rose Marie in “Goin’ To Acapulco,” most of the women of Planet Waves). Those who’ve gotten a solid “just like a woman” tongue-lashing, on the other hand, are legion. Sooner or later, one of us most know that Bob Dylan had some issues with you.
On “She’s Your Lover Now,” Dylan spills his vitriol not only over the woman who’s done him wrong, but also for the Mr. Jones-type character she’s been shacking up since their love affair has ended.
“I already assumed we were in the felony room,
but I ain’t the judge, you don’t have to be nice to me.
But please tell that to your friend in the cowboy hat,
you know he keeps on sayin’ everything twice to me!”
“She’s Your Lover Now” was recorded in 1966 for possible inclusion on Blonde On Blonde . Two popular versions exist — one with Bob on solo piano, and a rough, unfinished take featuring members of the Band, which finally surfaced on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3 in 1991. It’s working title? “Just A Little Glass of Water.”
The song’s ever-shifting chord progression and daredevil drumming pack a visceral thrill, and the lyrics are among Bob’s most piercing and hallucinogenic. Each chorus ends with either “she’s your lover now,” or “you’re her lover now,” a trick of perspective he would later polish on the multi-point-of-view-employing “Tangled Up In Blue.”
Once they find their footing, the Band tear into the verses with a hurricane force — by the time Dylan sings “why must everybody bow?” the built up musical energy is enough to bowl you over. The Bootleg version is made even more charming by its miscue start and chaotic ending. The song ends before the last verse can be spit out, but it can be heard plainly on the solo piano version (true Dylanologists can quote it to you verbatim):
Now your eyes cry wolf while your mouth cries I’m not scared of animals like you
And you there’s really nothing about you I can recall
I just saw you that one time and you were just there, that’s all
But I’ve already been kissed
I’m not going to get into this
I couldn’t make it anyhow
You do it for me
You’re her lover now
And so, ladies and gentlemen, a word of advice: if you ever see your lover standin’ on the bar soon, with a fish head and a harpoon, and a fake beard plastered on her brow….get the hell out of there. It’s just not gonna work out.