“You Angel You” (1973)

“You Angel You” is a one of Dylan’s best love songs, and not because of the relationship or the romance displayed in it, but due to the feeling of falling in love that it captures so well–that first feeling–the feeling that one is in love and maybe even for the first time:

“Never did feel this way before.”

This is a song about someone who has fallen for an angel, but not for her angelic traits.  Nope.  This angel’s walking, talking, and smiling are what has made him smitten.  All humans do those things–nothing especially special about them unless the one doing them is an object of desire; then we have what Christopher Ricks says about the song itself, “”sheer simplicity has its reserves of power.”

Simply powerful are the rhymes.  The verses, but for the bridge, are alternating rhymes abcb.  The bridge is all about “more” or the sound “more” makes as a rhyme, with the scheme of abbbb.  Never stop, the song seems to be saying, or never stop this feeling of love, more, more, more and more mores, please

A couple of lines are sneaky in the powerful way that their vagueness helps anyone conjure up images of their own of this angel.  And the singer seems to want the listener to be in on what he means about her, as in the Beatles, “Well she was just 17, and you know what I mean.”  Here’s Dylan weighing in with vague lines meant to elbow the side of the listener into getting what he means:

“You’re as fine as anything’s fine.” (Insert own image of what a fine woman looks like).

And, the actual sung line that replaces the written line, “The way you smile like a sweet baby child”:

“The way you walk and the way you talk/Is the way it ought to be.” (Insert own images of what her walking and talking ought to be.)

The song has only been performed by Dylan twice, and both times were in the 1990’s, 17 years after it appeared on Planet Waves.  Here’s the first time in live audio at Penn State University.

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