"Spanish Harlem Incident" is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan and was released on his 1964 album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, on August 8, 1964 (see1964 in music). The song has been described as a "a gorgeous vignette" by critics and been praised for its multilayered, poetic dimensions. When Dylan himself has been questioned about the song's subject matter he has confessed that he has no idea. However, author Paul Williams describes the song as a portrait of a gypsy girl that Dylan has seen only fleetingly but who has completely captivated him. Williams goes on to say that within the context of the song, Dylan is falling in love with not only the gypsy girl but also with the whole idea of gypsies and of himself in love with one.
Music critic Tim Riley writes that "'Spanish Harlem Incident' is a new romance that pretends to be short and sweet, but it's an example of how Dylan begins using uncommon word couplings to evoke the mysteries of intimacy...her 'rattling drums' plays off his 'restless palms'; her 'pearly eyes' and 'flashing diamond teeth' off his 'pale face.'" Dylan has only ever performed the song in live concerts during the period immediately following the release of the Another Side of Bob Dylan album in 1964.
The song was covered by The Byrds on their 1965 debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man, and had first been performed by the band during their pre-fame residency at Ciro'snightclub in West Hollywood, California. The song was actually one of four Dylan covers to appear on their debut album. After its appearance on the Mr. Tambourine Man album, The Byrds performed the song infrequently at live concerts.