Bob Dylan’s best songs: She’s Your Lover Now

Bob Dylan 1966 10

Pain sure brings out the best in people, doesn’t it?
– Bob Dylan (She’s Your Lover Now)

..‘She’s Your Lover Now’, a gleeful masterpiece more redolent of its era than most things that came out at the time..
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

On January 21, 1966 @ Studio A, Columbia Recording Studios, NYC Dylan tried this song 19 times. It was the only song he tried this day, he would never return to it..

None of the 19 cuts were complete… he never nailed it.. but the one on “The Bootleg Seriers 1-3″ came close…

This beauty is @ #17 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs.

Bootleg Series 1-3 version:



  • Bob Dylan (guitar, piano, harmonica, vocal)
  • Robbie Robertson (guitar)
  • Garth Hudson (organ)
  • Rick Danko (bass)
  • Richard Manuel (piano)
  • Sandy Konikoff (drums).

Bob Dylan 1966 11

“She’s Your Lover Now,” the one major work recorded on this occasion, is shattering enough. Like “Visions of Johanna” in November, it was the immediate priority when he arrived at the January 21 session, and he immediately set about getting the groove right before all drama drained from this cathartic composition………. that he set about recording the song in all its raging glory, Konikoff’s rat-a-tat drumming driving the song forward on wave after wave of recrimination.
~Clinton Heylin (Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973)

From Wikipedia:

Released March 26, 1991
Recorded January 21, 1966
Genre Rock
Length 6:09
Label Columbia
Writer Bob Dylan
Producer Bob Johnston


The third session for Blonde on Blonde, which took place on January 21, 1966, in Studio A of Columbia Recording Studios in New York City, focused entirely on laying down a complete take of “She’s Your Lover Now”. 19 takes were recorded between 2:30 PM and 2:30 AM, but several were false starts. The most complete take was take 19, which was subsequently released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991. After the 21st, the song was dropped from recording and never returned to.

On the recording sheet, each take is titled “Just a Little Glass of Water“, which was the song’s working name.



Solo version

Then, in the summer of 1980, a revelation for Dylan collectors: an acetate (recording of studio pressing) turned up entitled ‘Just a little glass of water No. 89210’… which turned out to be a full-length ‘She’s Your Lover Now’ sung by Dylan alone at the piano.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan Performing Artist I: The Early Years 1960-1973)

It’s a great song in any case, and this version is absolutely stunning – the power of Dylan’s voice and the genius of his expressive gift can be heard at their most naked..
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan Performing Artist I: The Early Years 1960-1973)

Cutting Edge versions

On November 6, 2015 “The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966” was released.  4 versions of “She´s Your Lover Now” was included.

Here are “Take 16”:

The song has never been performed live by Dylan.


The pawnbroker roared
Also, so, so did the landlord
The scene was so crazy, wasn’t it?
Both were so glad
To watch me destroy what I had
Pain sure brings out the best in people, doesn’t it?
Why didn’t you just leave me if you didn’t want to stay?
Why’d you have to treat me so bad?
Did it have to be that way?
Now you stand here expectin’ me to remember somethin’ you forgot to say
Yes, and you, I see you’re still with her, well
That’s fine ’cause she’s comin’ on so strange, can’t you tell?
Somebody had better explain
She’s got her iron chain
I’d do it, but I, I just can’t remember how
You talk to her
She’s your lover now

I already assumed
That we’re in the felony room
But I ain’t a 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’ ev’rythin’ twice to me
You know I was straight with you
You know I’ve never tried to change you in any way
You know if you didn’t want to be with me
That you could . . . didn’t have to stay
Now you stand here sayin’ you forgive and forget. Honey, what can I say?
Yes, you, you just sit around and ask for ashtrays, can’t you reach?
I see you kiss her on the cheek ev’rytime she gives a speech
With her picture books of the pyramid
And her postcards of Billy the Kid (why must everybody bow?)
You better talk to her ’bout it
You’re her lover now

Oh, ev’rybody that cares
Is goin’ up the castle stairs
But I’m not up in your castle, honey
It’s true, I just can’t recall
San Francisco at all
I can’t even remember El Paso, uh, honey
You never had to be faithful
I didn’t want you to grieve
Oh, why was it so hard for you
If you didn’t want to be with me, just to leave?
Now you stand here while your finger’s goin’ up my sleeve
An’ you, just what do you do anyway? Ain’t there nothin’ you can say?
She’ll be standin’ on the bar soon
With a fish head an’ a harpoon
An’ a fake beard plastered on her brow
You’d better do somethin’ quick
She’s your lover now

missing verse:

Now your eyes cry wolf,
While your mouth cries “I’m not scared
Of animals like you.”
And you, there’s been nothing of you I can recall;
I just saw you that one time. You were just there, that’s all.
But, I’ve already been kissed,
I’m not gonna get into this.
I couldn’t make it, anyhow.
You do it for me,
You’re her lover now

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8 thoughts on “Bob Dylan’s best songs: She’s Your Lover Now”

  1. It must be just me, but even if the singing here is compelling, it is just clear that the musical progression is unnatural, especially for Dylan, and it is no wonder that the band fails him, it just does not feel right, and to make it worse, it has no extra dimensions like Memphis Blues Again or Visions, some of the images he uses are wrought, somehow feel wrong and over the top, like ‘her mouth cries wolf’ and the rest of that couplet, no wonder he breaks up there. His force of those days, those surrealistic images that you comprehend on an irrational level, it lacks here. Only the direct put downs work, but they have less humor than elsewhere. To me I am happy it evolved into Sooner or Later, a great emphatic song. She’s your Lover Now I take as an interesting and sometimes moving try out that goes over the border, but that has its charms. I think its status has much to do with the emotional singing and the funny ashtray line and the fact that it was not published AND its complex structure, presaging Tangled up in Blue. Somehow, the piano version has that same touching quality as Ballad in Plain D, another over the top song, which did not rise above his personal troubles, just was not filled with his poetic genius of that time.

  2. Bob Dylan’s unique style of singing, with the different emotional tones of his voice is still earth shakingly fascinating, as is the expressions on his face, the music matches the lyrics, and he flows it’s rhythm without missing a beat. The expression of the theme of this song seems to be trying to break away from an unfaithful lover, and he says it with much strength and the directness he is famous for.

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