4th Time Around
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|"4th Time Around"|
|Song by Bob Dylan from the album Blonde on Blonde|
|Released||May 16, 1966|
|Recorded||February 14, 1966|
|Blonde on Blonde track listing|
With lyrics that contrast the mundane and the absurd with the unbearably heartfelt, "4th Time Around" is suggestive of a young romance gone wrong. The song revolves around the actions and brief spoken phrases of a man and a woman who are, presumably, in the midst of a lovers' quarrel. The narrative is recounted to a third person who, in later stanzas, becomes the subject of the tale as well as its audience. The song opens with what could be interpreted as the summary of the argument "When she said/ Don't waste your words, they're just lies/ I cried she was deaf." The song continues through escalating levels of anger and conflict until the female protagonist actually falls to the floor; the lyrics are ambiguous as to whether she does so because she is distraught, fainted or dead. At which point, the male protagonist (Dylan) insouciantly covers her up, riffles through her belongings and then decamps to hook up with the third person to whom the narrative is directed. To further complicate this love triangle, it is apparent from the "picture of you in your wheelchair" of the third person, which is placed in the apartment of the collapsed female, that all three of the parties know, and are close, to each other. There are many interpretations of who are these two lovers of Dylan, but none definitive, and perhaps that is as it should be, so that the song belongs equally to the listener. Musically speaking, the simple folk melody of the song contrasts with the more blues-rock oriented sound of most of Blonde on Blonde.
Comparisons to "Norwegian Wood"
"4th Time Around" was commonly speculated to be a response to The Beatles' song "Norwegian Wood" - written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney for the 1965 album Rubber Soul - as the two tracks share a reasonably similar melody, lyrical premise, and 3/4 time signature. "Norwegian Wood" was one of the first Beatles tracks where the lyrics are more important than the melody and showed an obvious Dylan-influence. "4th Time Around" has been seen as either a playful homage, or a satirical warning to Lennon about co-opting Dylan's well-known songwriting devices. Lennon expressed a range of opinions on this topic in interviews between 1970 and 1980. He initially felt it to be a somewhat pointed parody of "Norwegian Wood", but later he considered Dylan's effort to be more a playful homage. Still, the last line of "4th Time Around" ("I never asked for your crutch / Now don't ask for mine.") played into Lennon's apparent paranoia about Dylan in 1966-67, when he interpreted this line as a warning not to use Dylan's songs as a "crutch" for Lennon's songwriting.
A performance of "4th Time Around" from The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert appeared on the soundtrack for the film Vanilla Sky.
- Terry Melcher: Terry Melcher (1974)
- The Sports: The Sports Play Dylan & Donovan (1981)
- Steve Gibbons: The Dylan Project (1998)
- Chris Whitley: Perfect Day (2000) and On Air (2008)
- Michael Moore: Jewels and Binoculars (2000)
- Yo La Tengo and Buckwheat Zydeco: I'm Not There Original Soundtrack (2007)
- Oren Lavie: Chimes of Freedom - The Songs of Bob Dylan (Honoring 50 Years Amnesty International) (2012)
- Trager, Oliver (2004). Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. Billboard Books. p. 195. ISBN 0-8230-7974-0. Retrieved 2009-12-14.