The 30 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs: #26 “She’s Your Lover Now”

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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.

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.


6 COMMENTS

  1. Of the five songs you have selected, three have come directly from the bootleg series, and one comes from the greatest hits, leaving only one song from an actual album. I actually quite like this song, and I understand that these are all issues of taste, but you’re not leaving yourself much space. Once you’ve opened the bootleg can, there are certain songs that you more-or-less must include (“Nobody ‘Cept You” and “Blind Willie McTell” immediately come to mind). Assuming you only select two more songs from the bootleg series, which will probably be difficult, that leaves you all of twenty three songs to represent his albums – not to mention THE GENUINE BASEMENT TAPES. Considering that albums like HIGHWAY 61, BLONDE ON BLONDE, and JOHN WESLEY HARDING all have at least two songs that must be on any Dylan best-of list, and that you had better represent albums such as NEW MORNING, I’d say you have an uphill climb.

    I don’t think it’s a BAD list. I’d much rather see a list like this than one that just picks out his famous songs, but I’m interested to see how much due you give some of his better popular songs.

  2. Wow. Never heard the last verse. Just the one off Bootleg Volume 2. And I love The Band kinda working through the changes on that version. I’ll look up the solo piano take…Thanks for the tip, Doctor.

  3. probably in my top 3 dylan songs.sure packs one hell of a punch. its amazing how still his face is when he sings this song while singing his heart out with lyrics like- but i aint a judge you don’t have to be niiiice to meeeeee

  4. #26? Nah..this one’s in Top 5 for me, even with the abrupt cut-off. I think it’s the most musically complex and circuitous song Dylan ever did before the motorcycle crash plopped him back into country/folkie/simplicity mode. Also feels like a sister song to “Rolling Stone” (the ascending chords) and my #1, “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later).”
    Enjoying the series (even though it’s all done, I’m starting from the bottom & working my way up without much peeking).
    Like others, I’m worried that including the lovely “Moonshiner,” “Dear Landlord” and “When I Paint My Masterpiece” are leaving out greater songs as you climb into the top 20. After all, 3 songs on Blonde on Blonde would make my top 10 list (Rainy Day, One of Us Must Know, Just Like a Woman) 1 for my top 20 (I Want You) and 1 for the top 30 (Most Likely You’ll Go Your Way – live Before the Flood version).
    Still, enjoying the thought and deep-disk-digging behind this.

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