Bob Dylan’s Best Songs: Just Like A Woman

She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl

No, no. I knew a lot of those people but I also know a lot of lesbians. They’re not going to ask me to join a lot of campaigns just because I wrote Just Like A Woman
~Bob Dylan (to Philip Fleishman, Feb 1978)

Well, that’s true, that’s true, I believe that. I believe that that feeling in that song [Just Like A Woman] is true and that I can grasp it, you know, when I’m singing it. But if you’re looking for true companion in a woman, I mean… I can’t stand to… to run with women anymore, I just can’t, it bothers me. I’d rather stand in front of a rolling train, y’know. But if you find a woman that is more than a companion, that is also your sister, and your lover and your mother, y’know, if you find all them ideas in one woman, well, then you got a companion for life. You don’t ever have to think about.
~Bob Dylan (to Matt Damsker, Sept 1978)

First of all, the song (the performance of the song included on Blonde On Blonde) is affectionate. This is evident in the opening harmonica notes, and the vocal that follows is affectionate in tone from beginning to end; there’s never a moment in the song, despite the little digs and the confessions of pain, when you can’t hear the love in his voice..
~Paul Williams (BD Performing artist 1960-73)



  1. Facts
  3. Lyrics
  4. Live versions
  5. Cover versions

@#23 on my list of Bob Dylan’s top 200 songs.



Just Like a Woman” is a song written by Bob Dylan and first released on his 1966 album, Blonde on Blonde. It was also released as a single in the U.S. during August 1966 and peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Dylan’s version of the song at #232 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Known studio recordings:

Columbia Music Row Studios
Nashville, Tennessee
8 March 1966
The 11th Blonde On Blonde session, produced by Bob Johnston.

It took 18 takes  before our man was happy.


  • Bob Dylan (guitar, harmonica, vocal)
  • Charlie McCoy (guitar)
  • Robbie Robertson (guitar)
  • Wayne Moss (guitar)
  • Joe South (guitar, bass)
  • Al Kooper (organ)
  • Hargus “Pig” Robbins (piano)
  • Henry Strzelecki (bass)
  • Kenneth Buttrey (drums)

Here is take 1:
(from: The Best Of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12)


  • First known live performance: Jacksonville Coliseum, Jacksonville, Florida – 5 March 1966
  • It has been performed 871 times live – last performance: Event Center, Borgata Hotel Casino And Spa, Atlantic City, New Jersey – 26 November 2010.
  • Top year was 1978 with 109 performances



I’m not good at defining things, even if I could tell you what the song was about I wouldn’t. It’s up to the listener to figure out what it means to him. .. This is a very broad song. A line like, ‘Breaks just like a little girl’ is a metaphor. It’s like a lot of blues-based songs. Someone may be talking about a woman, but they’re not really talking about a woman at all. You can say a lot if you use metaphors. … It’s a city song. It’s like looking at something extremely powerful, say the shadow of a church or something like that. I don’t think in lateral [sic] terms as a writer. That’s a fault of a lot of the old Broadway writers…. They are so lateral. There’s no circular thing, nothing to be learned from the song, nothing to inspire you. I always try to turn a song on its head. Otherwise, I figure I’m wasting the listener’s time.
-Bob Dylan (to Robert Hilburn, 2004)

..a devastating character assassination..[it] may be the most sardonic, nastiest of all Dylan’s put-downs of former lovers.
~Alan Rinzler (quotet in Paul William’s “BD – Performing artist 1960-73)

Everyone can understand the feelings and the relationship described in the song, so why does it matter if Dylan wrote it with one woman in mind?
~Christopher Ricks

..there’s no more complete catalogue of sexist slurs,… defines women’s natural traits as greed, hypocrisy, whining and hysteria.
-Marion Meade (New York Times, 1971)

While there is much criticism of Dylan’s supposed misogyny in lyrics such those from “Just Like a Woman,” this song actually finds the narrator explaining his own actions. In the song’s bridge, often the place to find a pop song’s essence, Dylan’s narrator claims: “It was raining from the first/And I was dying there of thirst so I came in here/And your longtime curse hurts but what’s worse is this pain in here/I can’t stay in here/Ain’t it clear that I just can’t fit/Yes, I believe it’s time for us to quit.” .. It is certainly not misogynist to look at a personal relationship from the point of view of one of those involved, be it man or woman. There is nothing in the text to suggest that Dylan has a disrespect for, much less an irrational hatred of, women in general.
-Bill Janovitz (

One thing is apparent: Dylan felt a personal connection to this song from the first. As late as 1995 he was singing it with all the passion and persistence of a still-hungry man. And though it is one of his most-covered songs, he told old friend Mary Travers on a 1975 radio show, ‘Personally, I don’t understand why anybody would want to do [“Just Like a Woman”] – except me.’ And yet barely had he written the thing when he turned up at the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood, hoping to convince Otis Redding he should record it.
-Heylin, Clinton. Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan 1957-1973 (Songs of Bob Dylan Vol 1)

From a musical standpoint, “Just Like a Woman” is probably the most commercial track on Blonde on Blonde. At a conference on March 2012 at Belmont University in Nashville, Al Kooper said you had to listen to it at 4 a.m., probably the time when it was recorded. The harmonic grid is both simple and sophisticated, as are the lyrics. Dylan has that gift of making his words and his music immediately identifiable by strong and indelible images.
To underscore the force of the song, he obtained subtle arrangements from his band, making “Just Like a Woman” a classic in his repertoire. His two harmonica parts in E in the introduction and the conclusion are excellent, stretching out almost until after the last chorus. Two classical guitars back Dylan: one is probably McCoy on guitar solo throughout the song, distinguishing himself at each break in a phrase to the delight of his fans. The second is played in arpeggio (by South or Moss?), doubled by Robbins on piano. Kooper delivers a superb organ part as required by the solo guitar, adding some color to the piece. Dylan’s accompaniment includes two other acoustic guitars, one played by Dylan himself.
-Margotin, Philippe; Guesdon, Jean-Michel. Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track

When I hear Dylan sing “With her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls”, I am convinced, despite what anyone says, that he’s singing to Edie Sedgwick. To me, this song is her song. her theme song. Her “Moon River”.He’s chasing Edie when he sings “I Want You” and leaving her when he sings “Just Like A Woman”. His voice is perfect, the music is perfect, the lyrics give you the chill bumps. It’s plain and simply a sadly beautiful song about a beautiful and tragic woman.
-Nick Johnstone (Uncut Magazine, 2002)

When he says ‘Please don’t let on that you knew me when / I was hungry and it was your world,’ he steps on-camera and addresses this person directly to deliver one final twist . There’s a life-time of listening in these details and layered subtleties. Any serious student of songwriting will find a complete education in this one composition.
-Jimmy Webb (MOJO Magazine, 2005)


Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside the rain
Ev’rybody knows
That Baby’s got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls
She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl

Queen Mary, she’s my friend
Yes, I believe I’ll go see her again
Nobody has to guess
That Baby can’t be blessed
Till she sees finally that she’s like all the rest
With her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls
She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl

It was raining from the first
And I was dying there of thirst
So I came in here
And your long-time curse hurts
But what’s worse
Is this pain in here
I can’t stay in here
Ain’t it clear that—

I just can’t fit
Yes, I believe it’s time for us to quit
When we meet again
Introduced as friends
Please don’t let on that you knew me when
I was hungry and it was your world
Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes, you do
You make love just like a woman, yes, you do
Then you ache just like a woman
But you break just like a little girl

Live versions

Sydney Stadium
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
13 April 1966

Madison Square Garden
New York City, New York
1 August 1971

Live 1975
From the “Renaldo & Clara” movie.

Starlight Ballroom
Belleview Biltmore Hotel
Clearwater, Florida
22 April 1976 – Evening

Entertainment Centre
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
24 February 1986

Hammersmith Odeon
London, England
5 February 1990

Woodstock ‘94
Saugerties, New York
14 August 1994

Cardiff International Centre Arena
Cardiff, Wales
27 March 1995

Civic Center Arena
Mankato, Minnesota
10 November 1996

Target Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota
23 October 1998

Velódromo Luis Puig
Valencia, Spain
15 April 1999

Cover Versions

‘Just Like a Woman’ is also one of just two Dylan songs Van Morrison has consistently performed live. Intriguingly, every time the c*** elects to sing it (and he was still singing it in 2000), he sings, ‘There’s a queer in here,’ instead of, ‘I can’t stay in here.’ Does he know some scuttlebutt about the song’s composition that he can’t resist alluding to? He did, after all, spend a lot of time hanging with the guys from The Band in Woodstock, circa 1969–70.
-Clinton Heylin – Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan 1957-1973 (Songs of Bob Dylan Vol 1)

Van Morrison – 1974, Winterland, San Francisco:

Van Morrison – 2004:

Nina Simone:

Richie Havens:

Jeff Buckley:



5 thoughts on “Bob Dylan’s Best Songs: Just Like A Woman”

  1. ”   La Gula ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ No se la pierda Entrados ya en el tema y tomándome una pequeña licencia, este Cinéfago descubrió una serie en Netflix llamada Lovesick (Enfermo de amor), la historia de Dylan y de cómo amar siempre es algo complicado, sobre todo para él que tras siete años de amistad, se ha dado cuenta que siempre ha estado enamorado de su amiga, quien justo ahora está a punto de casarse. Rápidamente el primer capítulo plantea lo esencial: Dylan, por cuestiones de salud, tendrá que contactar a todas sus anteriores parejas sexuales, lo que servirá como pretexto para repasar mediante diferentes saltos al pasado, cada una de sus relaciones y de cómo es que no se daba cuenta de que su amiga Evie, siempre ha estado enamorada de él. Esperando a que o Evie le diga a Dylan, o Dylan acepté que también ama a Evie, uno va capitulo a capitulo sintiéndose mal por cómo la pobre de Evie por más que lo intenta, siempre algo o alguien le impide decirle a Dylan que lo ama, y de cómo el sonso de Dylan ignora el amor de Evie por su demás conquistas.

  2. interesting photo on the sleeve of the single – Bob holding the electric bass left-handed. Someone else does that, doesn’t he?

  3. Thanks for this series Egil.
    Wonderful versions of the songs and loads of information on them..
    Your work is very much appreciated on this end. Cheers

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