…or else you gotta stay all night.

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Bob Dylan – If You Gotta Go, Go Now

Dylan, for whom many have sacred feelings, is cocky here. Cocky, presumptious. “It ain’t that I’m questionin’ you / to take part in any quiz / it’s just that I ain’t got no watch / and you keep askin’ me what time it is.” And the crowd laughs. They know it’s true. Is she hanging around, is she going to take off her shoes? Whatever.

The song is simply constructed. Verses in meters ticking over. Dylan is acclaimed for his elusiveness, his well constructed lies, his appropriation of the poetry and music of his elders with an acerbic bite, shoving it down the mouths of his contemporaries thinly-suited and smoking, but here we’ve got a kid that just ain’t worried about nothing. “It ain’t that I’m wantin’ / anything you never gave before / it’s just that I’ll be sleeping soon / it’ll be too dark for you to find the door.” When the song ends, a woman in the crowd says “What do you do for a living?” and Dylan, I’m guessing he’s meeting her eye, laughs. “God, hey, anything you say!” [The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Concert At Philharmonic Hall.]

One Response to “…or else you gotta stay all night.”

  1. Anna says:

    Great commentary!

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