Song of the Day #1,506: ‘Need a Woman’ – Bob Dylan

Today’s Random Weekends selection is a track from Volume 3 of Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series.

Before the Dylan-philes jump down my throat about the incorrect lyrics I’ve included below, understand that I have just included the “official” lyrics to this song posted on Dylan’s own website. He obviously changed them quite a bit when recording the track, but I like to offer both in order to explore the contrast.

Here is the liner note entry for this track:

Recorded at the Shot of Love sessions but not used on the LP, ‘Need a Woman’ was subsequently rewritten twice, once by Bob Dylan himself, and once by Ry Cooder, who covered the song on his LP, The Slide Area. Cooder explained: “I had to change a good part of the lyrics, I had to focus them because he’s so vague, you know? His words go in all directions. “I can’t do this,” I thought, “I must make a story out of it. It was very hard to do that.” But did Dylan have any reaction to this? “He liked it. He didn’t care. It was all the same to him. He didn’t interfere or stop me from changing the lyrics. I appreciated that a lot.”

Bob Dylan himself had radically changed the lyrics of the song during the recording sessions, but presumably was never quite happy with how it all worked out. The song was never released, nor was it ever performed in concert.

It’s been raining in the trenches all day long, dripping down to my clothes
My patience is wearing thin, got a fire inside my nose
Searching for the truth the way God designed it
The truth is I might drown before I find it

Well I need a woman, yes I do
Need a woman, yes I do
Someone who can see me as I am
Somebody who just don’t give a damn
And I want you to be that woman every night
Be that woman

I’ve had my eyes on you baby for about five long years
You probably don’t know me at all, but I have seen your laughter and tears
Now you don’t frighten me, my heart is jumping
And you look like it wouldn’t hurt you none to have a man
who could give ya something

Well I need a woman, oh don’t I
Need a woman, bring it home safe at last
Seen you turn the corner, seen your boot heels spark
Seen you in the daylight, and watched you in the dark
And I want you to be that woman, all right
Be that woman every night

Well, if you believe in something long enough you just naturally
come to think it’s true
There ain’t no wall you can’t cross over, ain’t no fire you can’t walk through
Well, believing is all right, just don’t let the wrong people know what it’s all about
They might put the evil eye on you, use their hidden powers to try to turn you out

Well I need a woman, just to be my queen
Need a woman, know what I mean?

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One thought on “Song of the Day #1,506: ‘Need a Woman’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Dana says:

    Your video link isn’t working. Good thing I have the song in the iTunes library anyway.😃

    What amuses me in listening to this song while looking at the official lyrics is thinking of the backup singers trying to follow him with bewilderment. “Did he just change day to night? … I don’t even see this verse on the page!”

    It is also interesting that, for someone who is a legend mostly for his lyrics, that the words sung, at least in a song like this, we’re so interchangeable and relatively meaningless to him,

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