One Song/Three Versions – Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright

Well it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don’t know by now
And it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It’ll never do somehow

When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m traveling on
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

One of my absolute favorite Dylan songs. Of this song he said, … “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.” This was around the time his girlfriend Suze Rotolo, pictured walking with him on the cover of Freewheelin’, disappeared for a while. And so he wrote a song.  You do not want to be in a relationship with a songwriter. It never ends well.

They held a Thirtieth Anniversary Concert for Dylan at Madison Square Garden in 1992. The guest list was so vast I can’t even list it all here. But everybody from Lou Reed to Johnny Cash to the O’Jays to Eric Clapton was there. Eric Clapton? Isn’t he a bluesman straight up? What song will he/can he reinvent?

Well, how about the tune we’re considering here. And how about if he turns it into one of the most blistering, towering blues I’ve ever heard in my life. (Seriously. This and Hendrix’ “Red House” are my two favorite blues songs).

Ladies and gentleman. Eric Clapton will now play the blues for you. Even if you’re not a blues fan, at least consider giving this one a minute or two if only to see how he scorches it:

Now I present to you a band you likely never heard of: the Infamous Stringdusters. From their web page: “[They perform] the interlocking roots of bluegrass and its descendants, … from ancient jigs to radio ditties to spacious experimentation.

The Stringdusters joyously embody and carry forward the spirit of Bill Monroe, John Hartford, Earl Scruggs, David Bromberg and other originators in their skilled embrace of this music’s twin gravitational pulls, moving dexterously between homespun legacy and creative expansion.”

Whatever you call it, this thing moves like a freight train. If you thought Clapton couldn’t be topped, well, don’t think twice….

So long honey babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
Goodbye is  too good a word, babe
So I’ll just say “Fare thee well”

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

4 thoughts on “One Song/Three Versions – Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright

  1. This latest post is amazing! I can’t believe your converting me to the Blues! Just heard Clapton’s version of “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” and it just blew me away. Clapton’s guitar work – words cannot express. I never connected to Dylan but now starting to actually hear his music, mostly because of listening more to Springsteen. After the posts on Springsteen and listening to his music, I felt this pull to go and listen to Dylan. I think that is why I really enjoy your blog, I feel like I am on a journey and all of it seems to point to the Blues. 🙂 Thoroughly enjoyed the Infamous Stringdusters ‘ version as well but Clapton’s version just was so amazing!

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  2. Yeah we’ve certainly known for many years that Clapton is an amazing guitarist. In his case, his reputation is well-deserved. As a blues player myself, I am always, always trying to learn his stuff. And among guitarists, he gets a tremendous amount of respect. Even from non-blues players like Eddie Van Halen. And yes, that is one hell of a series of solos. His outpouring of emotion and virtuosity is outstanding.

    As to Dylan, he’s an easy guy to pigeonhole and caricature. But he too is the real deal. I did a Dylan post back when I first started the blog. But I always intended to do a series. I’ve already written parts 2 and 3 and will post them soon. He has way too much depth to just relegate to that one post.

    Quick note: When Springsteen came around he got tagged the “new Dylan”, a label he worked hard to shed so he wouldn’t be seen as riding Dylan’s coattails. So, interesting you make that connection. For me, I hear as much (or more) Van Morrison in early Bruce as anything else. Thanks for your post. As corny as this may sound, when I’m able to connect over music it is, for want of a better expression, soul-satisfying.

    Oh, and yes, it really does come back to the blues.

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  3. I like these 3 versions posts. Interesting to see how a song evolves (or doesn’t!) overtime. Just starting to collect some blues. I recently started with BB King’s Live at the Regal, but from a bit of internet scouring I’ve discovered that I really like earlier acoustic blues like Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson. It’s good to have some real raw, roots music recorded straight from the porch 😉

    I hear that Howlin Wolf’s Moanin’ in the Moonlight record is a good electric blues album. Next on the list for me is Mississippi John Hurt’s ”1928 Sessions” that I found out about when searching for the ‘best blues albums’.

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  4. “Live at the Regal” is classic BB. The man himself said it was a typical night but they happened to record it so there it is. It influenced a generation of blues players. As to blues itself, if I sit down and listen to it I’m much more apt to listen to electric than acoustic even though I’m aware it came from the former. I guess it’s because I first heard electric and so it’s what moves me most. That said, I just recently listened to some Robert Johnson online although I can’t remember what triggered my doing that. I hadn’t listened to his stuff in a long time.

    And so what struck me is how modern it sounded. A lot of the older stuff is primitive and poorly recorded. But Johnson’s sounds pretty good. You can see why the British blues guys (Clapton in particular) fell in love with him. (And Clapton recorded a whole “Me and Mr. Johnson” album.) You can just slap electric instruments on it and you’re good to go as is. As to Wolf, he came up on my Sun records post. I don’t own anything by him but he sure is as raw as you can get.

    Doing this post encouraged me to pick up the guitar and learn Dylan’s original way of playing the song. It’s the perfect combination of music and lyrics without any of his cryptic wording and fun to play. Play it fast and upbeat, it’s folky. Play it slow, bluesy

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