Motorpsycho Nitemare

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"Motorpsycho Nitemare"
Song by Bob Dylan
from the album Another Side of Bob Dylan
Released August 8, 1964
Recorded June 9, 1964, Columbia Recording Studios, Studio A, New York City, New York
Label Columbia Records
Songwriter(s) Bob Dylan
Composer(s) Bob Dylan
Producer(s) Tom Wilson
Another Side of Bob Dylan track listing

"Motorpsycho Nitemare", also known as "Motorpsycho Nightmare", is an early song written by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The song was released in 1964 on Dylan's fourth studio album Another Side of Bob Dylan.

The song is based in part on Alfred Hitchcock's movie Psycho and also makes a reference to the Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita.[1]

A cover version of the song was recorded in 1994 by the British rock group Strangelove. A translation of the song was recorded in French in 1965 by Hugues Aufray.


The title and lyrics in Dylan's song reference Hitchcock's classic thriller Psycho, which was released in 1960. The song is a parody that also draws on traveling salesmen jokes, where the main character shows up at a farmhouse looking for a place to spend the night, only to be lured by the temptations of the farmer's daughter. Dylan weds the basic plots of the film and joke to create a humorous tale with a political point.

In the opening of "Motorpsycho Nitemare", the narrator pounds on a farmhouse door after a long day's travel, only to be greeted by a gun-bearing farmer. At first, the farmer accuses the narrator of being a traveling salesman, but he denies it, claiming instead to be a doctor, a "clean-cut kid (who's) been to college, too". Convincing the farmer, he is welcomed to stay overnight on the condition that he not touch the farmer's daughter, Rita, and "in the morning, milk the cow." In the middle of the night, however, Rita sneaks in "looking just like Tony Perkins", the actor who played Norman Bates in Psycho. She invites the narrator to take a shower, but he declines, saying he's "been through this movie before." The passage refers to the film's infamous "shower scene", in which Marion Crane is stabbed to death while taking a shower in her motel room. Wanting to flee but feeling obliged to stay and milk the cow as promised, the narrator shouts out one of the most offensive things he can think of: that he likes "Fidel Castro and his beard". Enraged, the farmer chases him off with gunshots, accusing him of being an "unpatriotic rotten doctor Commie rat".

At the time, during the height of the Cold War with the former Soviet Union, communism was regarded in the U.S. as the nation's number one threat, and Castro, who set up a communist government in Cuba in the late 1950s, was among the country's chief enemies. The narrator escapes, Rita gets a job at a motel, and the farmer lies in wait for the narrator in hopes of turning him in to the FBI. At the song's conclusion, the narrator considers that "without freedom of speech, I might be in the swamp." The lines reference the film's final scene, which shows Marion's car (with her body inside) being towed from the swampland where Bates sank it. The implication of the song is that even the most outrageous political statements are protected by the First Amendment, and as Dylan's character realizes, exercising that right in this case possibly saved his life.


  1. ^ Heylin, Clinton. Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol.1 :1957-73 ISBN 978-1-84901-296-6

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