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Last modified 6/18/17

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Don’t Think Twice--Bob Dylan (Mike Heiner)

Written by a 21-year-old folksinger named Bob Dylan in 1962, Don't Think Twice, It's All Right would become one of the most revered songs of the decade.  Recorded at the Columbia Record Studio A in New York City on 14 November 1962, it was released as a single in July of the following year, one of two from his album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.  The other was Blowin' in the Wind.

Dylan wrote Don't Think Twice when he learned that his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, was leaving him and moving to Italy permanently to study at the University of Perugia.  Ms. Rotolo can be seen walking with Dylan on the cover of Freewheelin'. 

In the liner notes of the album, Dylan said of this track: "A lot of people make it sort of a love song - slow and easygoing...but it isn't a love song. It's a statement that maybe you can say something to make yourself feel better.  It's as if you were talking to yourself."

Dylan biographer Howard Sounes wrote about it, “Seldom have the contradictory emotions of a thwarted lover been so well expressed, and the song transcended the autobiographical origins of Dylan's pain."

Interestingly, Dylan didn't compose the melody.  It was taken from the public domain traditional song, Who's Gonna Buy Your Chickens When I'm Gone, and taught to Dylan by folksinger  Paul Clayton.  Clayton had used the melody himself in his song Who's Gonna Buy You Ribbons When I'm Gone?, recorded in 1960.  Dylan also took some of the lyrics from Clayton's version, including “T'ain't no use to sit and wonder why...”

The line, "When your rooster crows at the break of dawn, look out your window, and I'll be gone," however, came from personal experience.  In her memoir, Rotolo explained  that the couple used to live in an apartment in Greenwich Village near a poultry supplier. Sometimes, they would stay up all night and hear the roosters crowing when the sun rose.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan peaked at No. 22 in the US (eventually reaching platinum status of 1 million sales).  In the UK, however, it reached No. 1 in 1964.  In 2002, Freewheelin' was one of the first 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

Peter, Paul and Mary recorded Don't Think Twice in 1963 shortly after Dylan but since then, it has been covered by such artists as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin, Jackie DeShannon, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Gordon Lightfoot, Waylon Jennings, Donovan, Doc Watson, Elliot Smith, Billy Bragg, The Allman Brothers Band, Joan Baez, The Indigo Girls, Cher, and contemporary musicians such as John Mayer and Ed Sheeren.

Don’t Think Twice

15ItsAllRight (1).mp3