Love and Perfection: "Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right" (Bob Dylan)

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Bob Dylan (version below is covered by Elliott Smith – I’ve changed the lyrics to reflect Smith’s version)

Well, it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don’t know by now
An’ it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It won’t matter, anyhow
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’ll be trav’lin’ alone
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

And it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An’ it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road
But I wish there was somethin’ you might do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin’ anyway
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

So it ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, babe
Like you never did before
And it ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, babe
I can’t hear you anymore
I’m a-thinkin’ and a-wond’rin’, walkin’ down the road,
I once loved a woman, a child I’m told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

I’m walking down that lonesome road, babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
Goodbye’s too good a word, babe
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You coulda done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right


No matter how much control one cedes to some women nowadays – not all women, obviously – it will never be enough. That might be why I see an increasing number of women fall in love with men I can only charitably describe as “little boys,” not that I’m not childish in the extreme, but these guys are seemingly made for control by drama queens.

The deep question is how one tells someone who is childish to “get lost.” It always feels like a loss in oneself, because one feels “hey, more could have been done.” And it takes a little while to realize, “no, it couldn’t have been,” and a little while more to realize that a lot of people get by in life being nothing but awfully spoiled brats. Remember, being spoiled isn’t about having tons of money, or not working hard, or even keeping things neat personally and being disciplined. As weird as this sounds, being spoiled is about one thing and one thing only: being unappreciative. No amount of habituation can replace the ability to appreciate; it can only cover up the mental defect with sounds and actions.

Walking away, whether one is leaving on one’s own or compelled to, always feels like it is quitting, like it is artificial or incomplete. In a sense, it is. Thomas says about natural law, which human reason accesses and uses, that it works in conjunction with the Divine Law, of which there are the Old and New Dispensations. The Old governs by fear, the latter governs by love, and both those ways of attaching to the law correspond to men who are more imperfect and those who are more perfect. It seems like all the tools to make life better are around us, no matter who we are. And yet, there is a very fundamental difference between love and fear, and those who only understand fear or pain cannot love, even as the motions they make appear to be the same as those who love.

Therein lies the problem that is alluded to in the title of this post: how there is a confusion, made by those of us trying to love well, which lets us think someone can become more perfect, and how that confusion is mirrored strangely by the one who doesn’t care to love well in that they want a perfection through their own control.

The song itself goes through a reconsideration of character (“sit and wonder why”), an attempt to just be nice and weather the rough spots (“turn on your light”) and simple pleading (“callin’ out my name”) as three tactics those who are more confused use when they don’t get what they want. What’s funny about all those tactics is the self-absorbed nature of each of them. Our speaker is going out, alone, and one wonders if the only thing which can be done and said is going out with him. The issue of changing your character is the issue of leaving what is comfortable: the roof over our head is most comfortable when it protects us from realizing how self-absorbed and controlling we truly are.

I think a good follow-up post to this one will compare these lyrics to Death Cab for Cutie’s “Debate Exposes Doubt,” where cryptic lyrics create a strange narrator who may be similar to this one, may not be.

1 Comment

  1. I hate Bob Dylan! Not for his lyrics, but for his atrocious singing. I blame him for the decline of music; seriously I do!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.