Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bob Dylan's Most Romantic Songs‏

“Lay Lady Lay” coverImage via Wikipedia

by Brent Warnken

Bob Dylan was mostly famous as a protest song writer, a poet and musician who captured a movement at just the right time in history. But some of his older songs were romantic as well, and often overlooked amid the cultural significance and influence of works like "Times They Are a-Changin;" and "Blowin' In the Wind."

Let's take a look at some of Bob Dylan's most famous and most romantic songs and try to do two things. One, we will attempt to decipher what this legendary sage was trying to say about love, and two, we'll try to determine Dylan's most romantic lullaby.

"I Want You"

Bob Dylan's famous song "I Want You" deserves to be on this list of romantic songs, even if the song only superficially gets romantic. Based on the nasally way Dylan sings the chorus of "I want you" repeated and "so bad' at the end, you'd think he was being sarcastic, but really it's just Bob Dylan's singing style, which you'll see if you get Bob Dylan tickets online. Most of the lyrics besides the chorus aren't too much about love in the standard sense.

Bob can't help but get metaphorical and headsy, bringing up "drunken politicians" and the "Queen of Spades." The closest Bob gets to romancing his audience is near the end of the song when he sings, "I returned to the Queen of Spades/ Talked with my chambermaid/ She knows that I'm not afraid to look at her/ She's good to me/ There's nothing she don't see/ She knows where I would rather be/ But that doesn't matter." Apparently his face displays his love for another woman so plainly that his "chambermaid" can sense it.

"Lay Lady Lay"

The main chorus line of "Lay Lady Lay" is, "Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed." Laying on beds is certainly sexy, especially when, near the end of the song, Bob sings: "Stay, lady, stay, stay while the night is still ahead/ I long to see you in the morning light/ I long to reach for you in the night." What else could he be talking about here? Bob even gets complimentary, telling his lover, "And you're the best thing that he's ever seen." While it might not be as intellectual and rife with double meanings, "Lay Lady Lay" is sure heavy on physical love.

"True Love Tends to Forget"

Bob gets realistic about love in "True Love Tends to Forget." Gone is the honeymoon of "Lay Lady Lay" where sweet nothings are whispered and two lovers lounge in bed all day and through the night. Dylan has aged here, been through hard times and realized that loving someone means letting go of regret. Dylan admits that the woman he loves hurts him sometimes, but he still needs her, exemplified by the lyrics, "You're a tearjerker, baby, but I'm under your spell,/ You're a hard worker, baby, and I know you well./ But this weekend in hell is making me sweat."

What's the most romantic Bob Dylan Song? It depends. Do you think of love analytically, metaphorically and politically? Do you believe love is all longing glances and spooning? Or do you think love is shown in forgiveness and mercy? Which one is correct? The answer to that, my friend, is blowing in the wind. has sponsored this article, which was written by Brent Warnken. StubHub is one of the leaders in the business of selling, sports tickets, concert tickets, theatre tickets, or even special events tickets.


  1. You were way ahead of John Wesley Harding ("Making Love To Bob Dylan" AKA "I can't make love to Bob Dylan") on this post, Dr. Robert, and you nail (if that's the right word in this context...I guess) at least three of the best of the romcom Dylan always wrestled with in his songs... Maybe romcon would be better for Dylan, since he usually sees the con in all things as a matter of natural balance - love included.
    Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands worked for me one weekend. All of Nashville Skyline has the sweetening agent of laid-backness... and some of Bob's softest and most intimate crooning. Dreamin of You is a fairly rare and recent lovely song, obsessively devotional in it's dark tone. "Just like a woman" is so modern in it's love, that Nina Simone to Charlotte Gainsborough have sung it, and Bob and his great love Joanie sang "Never Let me Go" back in 1975, Dylan in whiteface. And It Ain't Me Babe is loving in the most honest sense. Love is full of bullshit, and that song isn't. Patti Smith and Dylan sang Dark Eyes live in '95. "I'll remember you".
    Of course, "I can't make love to Bob Dylan" is a funny and charming props to the man who gave us so much "tough" love through the years. Us being "each and every" and "US as in A." All his words for Hurricane and Hattie and and against the Masters of War. Not bedtime material, for sure. But with the right partner, I'd sure put on Blonde on Blonde for an extended trip into the heart of darkness.


    1. Thanks for your comments.

      It's a difficult one isn't it? Because does the idea of "romantic" necessarily involve "love"? Some of Dylan's most romantic songs (in my view) are not about love - take "Hurricane" for example. What do you think?