Song of the Day #576: ‘I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)’ – Bob Dylan

Yesterday’s Dar Williams post is a nice segue into another Bob Dylan weekend, because Dylan is certainly another example — perhaps the best example — of an artist whose lyrics are just as effective on paper as in song. Some people would argue that his voice actually detracts from the power of his words, though I strongly disagree.

I’m pretty certain Dylan writes the lyrics of his songs before the music. He also goes off text quite a bit when performing, as you’ll see over the course of these weekends. All of the lyrics I post here are from Dylan’s own Web site — they are the official lyrics of his songs. And yet if you follow along as he sings them, you’ll find he mixes and matched verses, changes phrasing, adds and drops words on the fly.

That has a lot to do with Dylan’s typical recording style, which is to sit in front of the microphone with a guitar and a harmonica and play the song a couple of times. If he screws up (letting out a laugh, as he does in this song), so be it. No reason not to include that on the record.

Dylan would adopt more traditional recording methods later in his career, though his work in the past couple of decades has returned to the same spontaneity and embracing of mistakes that marked his early albums.

Today’s song is written from the perspective of a guy who spent the night with a woman only to have her completely lose interest the next morning. Tomorrow I’ll expand on how Dylan’s third album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, marked a new direction for his music and his career.

I can’t understand,
She let go of my hand
An’ left me here facing the wall.
I’d sure like t’ know
Why she did go,
But I can’t get close t’ her at all.
Though we kissed through the wild blazing nighttime,
She said she would never forget.
But now mornin’s clear,
It’s like I ain’t here,
She just acts like we never have met.

It’s all new t’ me,
Like some mystery,
It could even be like a myth.
Yet it’s hard t’ think on,
That she’s the same one
That last night I was with.
From darkness, dreams’re deserted,
Am I still dreamin’ yet?
I wish she’d unlock
Her voice once an’ talk,
‘Stead of acting like we never have met.

If she ain’t feelin’ well,
Then why don’t she tell
‘Stead of turnin’ her back t’ my face?
Without any doubt,
She seems too far out
For me t’ return t’ or chase.
Though the night ran swirling an’ whirling,
I remember her whispering yet.
But evidently she don’t
An’ evidently she won’t,
She just acts like we never have met.

If I didn’t have t’ guess,
I’d gladly confess
T’ anything I might’ve tried.
If I was with ‘er too long
Or have done something wrong,
I wish she’d tell me what it is, I’ll run an’ hide.
Though her skirt it swayed as a guitar played,
Her mouth was watery and wet.
But now something has changed
For she ain’t the same,
She just acts like we never have met.

I’m leavin’ today,
I’ll be on my way
Of this I can’t say very much.
But if you want me to,
I can be just like you
An’ pretend that we never have touched.
An’ if anybody asks me, “Is it easy to forget?”
I’ll say, “It’s easily done,
You just pick anyone,
An’ pretend that you never have met!”

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4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #576: ‘I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Amy says:

    Okay, I admit it was more challenging to find a legit artist who had covered this song but wouldn’t be on your radar ;)

    But I think what I found is pretty wonderful. Lampshade Drama apparently consists of two seeminly very young guys, who, in addition to writing and performing their own songs, cover a whole bunch of Dylan songs. It’s not that they’re so wonderful (I mean, they’re fine), but how cool is that Dylan’s music is what they turn to…

    As for the song itself, I had no idea what it was when I saw the title, though I assumed it would be familiar when it started. Alas, that was not the case. Another example of how effectively Dylan can convey the complicated emotions people feel. I’d love Dar Williams to write the companion song – to give us a glimpse into why she’s acting like they never have met. Now THAT would be really cool.

  2. Dana says:

    I’m not familiar with this song or really this album. Very good song though.

  3. peter says:

    shouldn’t the line be “I remember her whispering yes” not yet

  4. Clay says:

    Sounds like “yet” to me, and that also fits the rhyme scheme. I pulled all of these lyrics off of the official site (although he definitely sings different lines on many songs than are posted on the Web site).

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