Sunday, June 14, 2015

I'm Not There (1956)

Bob tells this girl
That he's not there at all, though
She's looking for him.

There are lots of people who make lots of hay about "I'm Not There," one of the Basement Tapes bootlegged tracks that came to mainstream prominence in Todd Haynes's film of the same name. Some people point to the profound lyrics and stair-climbing melody, and refer to it as a lost masterpiece, a mysterious beauty from the shadows of Dylan's undiscovered (at the time) catalogue. I don't get it. I think it goes on far too long and that the words don't make any sense. I don't mind Dylan's arbitrary choice of words to hold down a pattern as a rehearses a song, but I'm of the opinion that whatever people think is there, it's actually not there at all. Which I guess is what Dylan was getting at in the title of the song. You can find it on volume 11 of the Bootleg Series.

Here are the lyrics, complete with chord changes. I think there might be more words than these, but this is the most reliable set of words I could fine. Decide for yourself:

Ev'ry thing's all right
And then she's all the time in my neighborhood
She cries both day and night
I know it 'cause she was there

       G                   F
It's a milestone but she's down on her luck
And the day makes her lonely
And it's so hard to buck, I was there

    C                                Em
I believe that she'd stop him if she'd fine time to care
    F                              C
I believe that she'd look upon beside 'em and care
         F                               C
And I'd go by her now and she's on my way
               G          C/G  G  C/G  G        
But I don't belong there

No I don't belong to her
I don't belong to anybody
She's my prize forsaken angel
But she don't hear me cry
She's a lone-hearted mystic 
And she can carry on
When I'm there, she's all right
But she's not when I'm gone

         C                       Em
Heaven knows she's the answer she don't call on no one
         F                         C
She's a wave, a thing of beauty she's mine for the one

         C                      Em
And I'm not hesitating by temptation lest it runs
         F                        G                   
Which she don't follow me but I'm not there, I'm gone

         G                  F
Now I'll cry tonight, like I cried the night before
         Am                          G
And I'll feast on her eyes but I'll dream about the door
   G                        F      
So long, Jesus, savior, blind faith worth to tell
    Am                              G    C/G  G  C/G
It don't have consolation she's my love far thee well

    C                        Em
Her smile is contagious I was born to love her
        F                               C
But she knows that the kingdom waits so high above her
      C                       Em
And I run but I race but it's not too fast or soon
      F                              G
I'll try and not deceive her I'm not there, I'm gone

     G                       F
It's all about confusion and I cry for her pale
        Am                G
I don't need anybody now beside me to tell
           G                    F
Cause it's all affirmation I've recieved but it's not
  Am                           G
I wish I was beside but I'm not there I'm gone

1 comment:

  1. Hello Robert, thank you for another interesting slice of musical history. Join us inside Bob Dylan's Music Box'm-Not-There and listen to every version of every song.