Album: The Bootleg Series Volume 2.
To my ears, the closest that Dylan ever got in the studio to the sound he and The Hawks found during their 1966 tour is this incomplete outtake. Recorded with nearly all of The Hawks plus Sandy Konikoff providing the driving drums that Levon Helm would have scoffed at, “She’s Your Lover Now” is also one of Dylan’s great rant songs, more fun musically than “Positively 4th St.” and nearly as scathing lyrically as “Idiot Wind.”
While Richard Manuel provides forward motion on the piano and Garth Hudson & Robbie Robertson adding their color when needed, “She’s Your Lover Now” is the sound of Dylan confronting an ex with her new boyfriend and just losing his shit.
So the first half of each verse is Dylan expressing his frustration to the ex-lover:
You know I was straight with you
You know I’ve never tried to change you in any way
You know if you didn’t want to be with me
That you could … didn’t have to stay
Now you stand here sayin’ you forgive and forget. Honey, what can I say?
And then, hilariously, Dylan turns the rant onto her new boyfriend:
Yes, you, you just sit around and ask for ashtrays, can’t you reach?
I goes on like this for six gloriously ragged minutes until breaking down because somebody – I still don’t know who – made a mistake, and the whole thing just collapses as a surprised Dylan asks “what?” No answer.
When this showed up in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3, I had no idea how much stuff was truly in the vault from the 1965-1966 period, and just the tiny taste of outtakes (after the even smaller taste on Biograph) felt like a revelation. After that, whenever I went bootleg shopping, I started looking for Dylan mid-60s outtakes – first during record swaps, and later on the internets.
Even now, there are still amazing takes – the solo piano version of this song, the “nightengale’s code” version of “Visions of Johanna” – of key songs that remain unreleased, and/or barely heard. Obviously, most of this is only of interest to crazies like me, but man, nobody in the history of music was ever on their game like Bob Dylan in the mid-1960s.
Official Video for “She’s Your Lover Now”
My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist: