"All I Really Want to Do" is a song written by Bob Dylan and featured on his Tom Wilson-produced 1964 album, Another Side of Bob Dylan (see 1964 in music). It is arguably one of the most popular songs that Dylan wrote in the period immediately after he abandoned topical songwriting. Within a year of its release on Another Side of Bob Dylan, the song had also become one of Dylan's most familiar songs to pop and rock audiences, due to hit cover versions by Cher and The Byrds.
Song information 
"All I Really Want to Do" was first released on Dylan's 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan, and was also included on the Dylan compilations Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II in 1971 and the 3-disc edition of Dylan in 2007. Two different live versions of the song have been released: the first on Bob Dylan at Budokan in 1979 and the second on The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964, Concert at Philharmonic Hall in 2004.
Dylan wrote the song in 1964 and recorded it in one take on June 9, 1964. Like other songs on Another Side of Bob Dylan, "All I Really Want to Do" was inspired by Dylan's breakup with Suze Rotolo. "All I Really Want to Do" opens the album on a with a different attitude than Dylan's previous album, The Times They Are a-Changin'; a playful song about a relationship rather than a finger-pointing political song. Musically simple, though playful, "All I Really Want to Do" is essentially a list of things, physical and psychological, that Dylan does not want to do or be to the listener (perhaps a woman, but just as likely his audience as a whole). Dylan laughs at some of his own jokes in the song, as he parodies typical "boy meets girl" love songs. One interpretation of the song is that it is a parody of male responses to early feminist conversations. Along with another Another Side of Bob Dylan song, "It Ain't Me, Babe," "All I Really Want to Do" questioned the usual assumptions of relationships between men and women, rejecting possessiveness and machismo. The song's chorus features Dylan singing in a high, keening yodel, likely inspired by Hank Williams or Ramblin' Jack Elliott, while disingenuously claiming that all he wants to do is to be friends. "All I Really Want to Do" sees Dylan experimenting with the conventions of the romantic pop song by constructing rhymes within lines and also rhyming the end of every line with the end of the following line.
The first known live concert performance of "All I Really Want to Do" was at the Newport Folk Festival on July 26, 1964. It remained part of Dylan's concert set list for his all acoustic shows in 1965. It returned to Dylan's concert sets in 1978, when Dylan sang it at the end of most shows to the melody of Simon and Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)". For those shows, he often revised the lyrics, incorporating mischievous verses such as:
- I ain't lookin' to make you fry
- See you fly or watch you die
- And I don't want to drag you down
- Chain you down or be your clown
The Byrds' version 
"All I Really Want to Do" was the second single by the American folk rock band The Byrds, and was released on June 14, 1965 by Columbia Records (see 1965 in music). The song was also included on the band's debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man, which was released on June 21, 1965. The version of the song released as a single is a completely different take to the version found on the Mr. Tambourine Man album, as evidenced by the slight lyrical variations in the song's first verse and the different running times the two versions have; the single is 2:02 minutes in length while the album version is slightly longer at 2:04. The single reached #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on the UK Singles Chart.
The single was rush-released by the band's record label, Columbia Records, when it became known that Cher was about to issue a rival cover version of the song on the Imperial label (see below). However, the Byrds and their management were largely unconcerned about Cher's imminent release, feeling that there was enough room in the charts for both versions. In fact, the Byrds were reluctant to release another Dylan-penned single at all, feeling that it was somewhat formulaic. However, Columbia were insistent, believing that in the wake of the Byrds' debut single, "Mr. Tambourine Man", another Dylan cover equaled an instant hit. A chart battle ensued, largely instigated by the music press and Columbia (who were determined to bury Cher's release), but ultimately the single stalled at #40 on the U.S. charts, while Cher's cover reached #15. The reverse was true in the UK, however, where the Byrds' version became the fastest selling single in CBS Records' history, finally reaching #4 while Cher's recording peaked at #9.
The Byrds' version of the song is noticeably different in structure to Dylan's. It begins with Jim McGuinn's jangling guitar introduction (played on a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar) and features a substantially changed, ascending melody progression in the chorus, made more attractive by the band's angelic harmonies. In addition, the band completely changed the melody to one of the song's verses, in order to turn it into a Beatlesque, minor-key bridge.
What really got me most was Dylan coming up to me and saying, "They beat you man," and he lost faith in me. He was shattered. His material had been bastardized. There we were, the defenders and protectors of his music, and we'd let Sonny & Cher get away with it
Reaction to the single in the press was generally positive, with Billboard magazine commenting "another hot pop, folk-flavoured Bob Dylan tune is offered by the dynamic group." In the UK, Penny Valentine, writing in Disc, opined "I think this is a marvelous song, but, Byrds fan though I have always been, I prefer the Sonny & Cher [sic] recording." In the NME, Derek Johnson also praised the single, predicting it would be a UK number one, and commenting "The pattern is much the same as before, with those familiar high-register harmonies - clearly influenced by the West Coast surf sound...coupled with strident twangs throughout, rattling tambourines, and crashing cymbals."
In addition to appearing on the Byrds' debut album, the song is included on several Byrds' compilation albums, including The Byrds' Greatest Hits, The Original Singles: 1965–1967, Volume 1, The Byrds, The Essential Byrds, The Byrds Play Dylan, and There Is a Season.
Cher's version 
"All I Really Want to Do" was Cher's debut single. Released in May 1965, it reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #9 in the United Kingdom charts. Cher's recording of the song also charted in several other countries during 1965. Cher's version was involved in a chart battle with The Byrds' recording of "All I Really Want to Do" when both versions entered the Billboard Hot 100 during the same week (see above).
The initial idea to cover the song came when Cher heard the Byrds perform it during their pre-fame residency at Ciro's nightclub on the Sunset Strip in March 1965. This caused a minor controversy when it was alleged by the Byrds and their management that Cher and her husband, Sonny Bono, had taped one of the Byrds' appearances at Ciro's without permission, in order to utilize some of the band's material for their own releases. However, Cher's version is, in fact, quite different to the Byrds' recording and lacks the Beatlesesque bridge that remained unique to their version. Ultimately, Cher's cover was the more successful in the U.S., reaching the Billboard top 20, while the Byrds' single faltered at #40. The reverse was true in the UK, where the Byrds' single reached #4.
Cher continued to perform the song in concerts, usually as part of a hits medley, up to and including her 2002-2005 tour, Living Proof: The Farewell Tour.
Other cover versions 
The Byrds 
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- ^ "Another Side of Bob Dylan". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- ^ a b c d e f g "All I Really Want to Do - Song Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- ^ a b "All I Really Want to Do album appearances". Bob Dylan Official Website. Archived from the original on 1 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- ^ a b c d e Heylin, Clinton (2009). Revolution in the Air. Chicago Review Press. pp. 202–203. ISBN 978-1-55652-843-9.
- ^ a b Gill, Andy (1998). Don't Think Twice, It's All Right. Thunder Mouth's Press. p. 56. ISBN 1-56025-185-9.
- ^ Shelton, Robert (1997). No Direction Home. Da Capo Press. p. 219. ISBN 0-306-80782-3.
- ^ a b Trager, Oliver (2004). Keys to the Rain. Billboard Books. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0-8230-7974-0.
- ^ Gray, Michael (2000). Song and Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan. Continuum. p. 4. ISBN 0-8264-5150-0.
- ^ a b Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 543–545. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
- ^ Rogan, Johnny. (1996). Mr. Tambourine Man (1996 CD liner notes).
- ^ Whitburn, Joel. (2008). Top Pop Singles 1955-2006. Record Research Inc. p. 130. ISBN 0-89820-172-1.
- ^ Brown, Tony. (2000). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 130. ISBN 0-7119-7670-8.
- ^ a b c d e f g Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 81–83, 182. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
- ^ a b c d Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. p. 39. ISBN 1-906002-15-0.
- ^ Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 104. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
- ^ a b c d Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. p. 57. ISBN 1-906002-15-0.
- ^ a b "All I Really Want to Do – Byrds' Version". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- ^ All I Really Want to Do at Allmusic
- ^ "All I Really Want to Do - Cher". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- ^ Brown, Tony. (2000). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 156. ISBN 0-7119-7670-8.
- ^ Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 1-906002-15-0.
- ^ "All I Really Want To Do" in UK Singles Chart  . Retrieved October 31, 2010.
External links