Nobody Cept’ You (1973)

This is one of my favorite Dylan love songs.  The lyrics have the feel of “Most Of The Time,” but inside this song is a much different world.  Whereas in “Most” pain overshadows how he feels mostly, which is at most “halfway content,”  in “Nobody” all is diminished in the face of love.  Or rather with lyrics like this,

I know somethin’ has changed
I’m a stranger here and no one sees me
’Cept you, yeah you

everything else that makes him feel diminished diminishes.  She inspires the phoenix in him, born again through the ashes that life appears set on reducing him to.  The fire reference in this verse supports this:

You’re the one that reaches me
You’re the one that I admire
Every time we meet together
My soul feels like it’s on fire
Nothing matters to me
And there’s nothing I desire
’Cept you, yeah you\

The rhyming pattern is consistent and then not.  It is ‘cept for the last two verses. Besides the bridge, the first three rhyme a/b/c/b/a/b/e (‘cept for the first which keep the “a’ rhyme going in the fifth line); the last two verses are exceptions, too, with 8 and 9 lines respectfully, and with a rhyme scheme of a/b/c/d/b/c/e/f and a/b/a/c/a/c/d/c/b. So the structure keeps the whole ‘cept thing alive.

The last verse has the most exceptions.  First it combines wording from the opening bridge:

Nothing much matters or seems to please me
’Cept you, yeah you
Nothing hypnotizes me
Or holds me in a spell
Everything runs by me
Just like water from a well
Everybody wants my attention
Everybody’s got something to sell
’Cept you, yeah you

Even better though is how “you” and “me” combine in the last verse.  In the bridge, it’s mostly about “you.”  Elsewhere, it’s mainly about “me.” No separation of bridge and verse in this one. (I prefer to say the rest of the song separates them ‘cept this one.)  In the last verse, “you” and “me” run rampant together, as if this is a world worth staying in, the world of just “you” and “me.”

 

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Girl From The North Country (1963)

Rhymes alternate in this classic song to an abab cadence, but Dylan is more dedicated to the b-rhymes than he is to the a’s.  The a’s have echo rhymes (long/long) or imperfect rhymes (ends/winds) or no rhyming (all/night), so on one level the rhymes fade but on another they don’t.

The best rhyme for my money is storm/warm.  That rhyme will never fade for me.  Somethings just never fade, as an image of a loved one.  Unlike the girl in “Trying To Get To Heaven,” whose “memory grows dimmer” and doesn’t haunt the singer “like it did before,” this girl from the north country just can’t be shaken.  Most of the time Dylan keeps to his rhymes, but all of the time he let’s us see her; her image is vivid with that warm coat he wants her wearing and that long hanging hair that flows down to her breasts; we can fill in the rest, and what we fill in won’t shake us either.  Anyone ever caught in love’s thrall keeps such images with them forever, and usually they are affixed to a place like a north country fair.

But not so fast. Cormac McCarthy in All the Pretty Horses has John Grady not think about Alejandra because “he did not know what was coming or how bad it would be . . . he thought she was something he’d better save.”  Perhaps the images we keep conjuring keep fading more and more each time we do.  But songs like this one keep such images forever fresh, forever young.

According to my twitter pals, Ian Wilkinson and Phil, this delightful video of the song is from a February of 1964 Canadian TV special.