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Just Like A Woman by Bob Dylan

Album: Blonde On BlondeReleased: 1966Charted:
33
  • Dylan wrote this ballad on Thanksgiving Day 1965 while on tour in Kansas City. It was allegedly inspired by Warhol factory pin up girl Edie Sedgwick, a pinup girl who appears in sleeve photos to Blonde On Blonde and died of a drug overdose in 1971. It could also be about his relationship with fellow folk singer Joan Baez.
  • Dylan has performed this song more than any other.
  • The song came under some fire for the line "she breaks just like a little girl," which some listeners felt was disparaging to women. This is a very shallow interpretation, however, and rarely taken seriously by Dylan's fans. Many of Dylan's songs include put-downs, and sometimes those targets happen to be women. Examples include "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Positively 4th Street."
  • Joe Cocker, Manfred Mann, Rod Stewart and Richie Havens are among the many artists to cover this song.
  • This was not released as a single in the UK. Manfred Mann's version hit #10 there in 1966.
  • In a February 2000 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, presidential candidate Al Gore answered two questions by singing parts of this song.
  • Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers covered this on Damn Near Righteous, his first new album since the untimely 2003 death of his partner Bobby Hatfield. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
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Comments: 32

Nina Simone does an excellent version of this song. Stevie Nicks does an O.K. version. Van Morrison also does a super-FINE version. I feel a certain affinity for this song, feeling at times that it expresses something within.Eb - Fl Keys, Fl
Helps me to understand why Dylan hates for his lyrics to be interpreted. Everybody, right now, read or listen to the song, literally (and literally). It is NOT (almost certainly) about you. Some of his lyrics almost beg a spin. Not these. These are straight-up, or, if not (if you insist), only subject to hollow (manufactured) conjecture. I am as much of an
interpreter" as the next but not once, having heard this song about 5000 times, have I asked myself, "What/Who is Bob really talking about?". It is that obvious! He is talking about my second wife.
Don - Madison, In
I think the contrast is between women and girls. This person may make love like a woman and may fancy herself very mature, but deep down she is still just a little girl. And what's more, she is just "like all the rest." I do not think it is misogynistic, but rather points out that anyone, male or female, may still be immature in some ways. I also think it points out that sexual maturity really means very little. "Girls" may know how to have sex and may "make love just like a woman," but their sexual age has nothing to do with emotional maturity. They still break "just like a little girl."Kristina - Albuquerque, Nm
I think that this song is about the fact that Dylan has had his heart broken into by a woman who acts like a child.Christy - Morristown, Tn
Some interesting takes on this song in all these comments... for other comments on the gay angle, see Ballad of a Thin Man, also under Dylan on this site. A song not (yet!) found on this site, but I wonder whether it has any connection to this song, is Dylan's other "Just Like" title, namely, "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," about encounters with hookers in C. Juarez. And let's not overlook the more obvious meaning of the phrase, "your long-time curse" -- as in menstruation. If this interpretation is taken, then the song can't be about gay men. As he often does, Dylan seems inscrutable.Fred - Laurel, Md
a woman breaks exactly like a woman not "just like"; something other than a woman is the only thing that can break "like" one; that repetitive chorus excludes women; a man can break like a woman; queen mary and men can't conceive/be blessed; "fog amphetamine pearls describe are not inherently descriptive of a females; it is, however, of a gay lifestyle; "please don't let on that you knew me when" speaks to activity about which one isn't necessarily proud; this song relates to an early gay experience.Ian - Lincoln , Ne
A Hugo Montenegro version (ca. 70's) was my introduction to the song. It's beautiful for its choralistic style of singing. In a college intramural song contest done in the Philippines the group that sang the song won first place.Andy - Lake Forest, Ca
"More songs about a GIRL?!" "Criticized by women's groups?!" I've always thought this song was about gay me. Alan Ginsburg sounds about right. Listen to the lyrics with this angle in mind, and you will see I'm right: it sounds like he's describing having been with a man and rejecting homosexuality. "Your long-time curse hurts but what's worse is this pain in here; I can't stay in here." Every lyric fits this theory.Marcy - New York, Ny
My sister had a bumper sticker on her car that said "I brake just like a little girl".Madison - Norway, Me
awesome live.Jesse - Chatham, Ma
william from pensacola: brilliantly twisted comments that resonate with this soul (unblunted by prozac).Bruce - Greetings From Asbury Park, Nj
I just love this song...maybe cos i break..just like a little girl.Beth - Pittsburgh, Pa
I was dying of thirst so I came in here(soul enters a new body)
..Curse hurts, but what's worse is this pain in here, I can't stay in here (soul picked wrong body - out of desperation)

Very intense ideas of souls acting like vagabonds and people harboring them
William - Pensacola, Fl
Most blatant Dylan work in terms of revealing the inner suffering and strife tainting the relationship of mortal/carnal body with eternal/ethereal soul. She(the body) aches and makes love in harmony with the soul, they can both feel those things, but the body breaks just like a little girl - has to die.

Just listen once with this in mind - see if it fits for your spiritual ear.
William - Pensacola, Fl
And this is actually his 12th most frequently performed song, FYIChad - Reading, Pa
My favorite version of the song was played on May 27, 1966 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. That entire acoustic set was sublime! Much better performance wise than the Manchester show released as Bootleg Series Vol. 4. Shame the Electric set from that show has never surfaced.Chad - Reading, Pa
I can't imagine Odis Redding singing or Roberta Flack for that matter, but whatever.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
In some Woody Allen movie, probably Annie Hall, Woody's character beds some young chick (maybe after they see a Dylan concert) and while in bed she quotes this song while expressing her admiration for Bobby. Not exactly sure what Woody's point was, but considering his low opinion of rock music, I imagine he was saying something derogatory about the chick, and/or about his character's lack of connection with the women he bedded.Fyodor - Denver, Co
Maybe it's just me, but the song seems to be about how at first one is in love with a woman mainly how relaxed Dylan sounds in the beginning of the song. however towards the end of the song, it seems that in the last stanza (you fake just like a woman) and by the very cynical way Bob Dylan sounds it seems that the love has broken apart which is blamed on the woman.Charlie - New York, Ny
The best version of JUST LIKE A WOMAN was played on August 1, 1971 at the Concert for Bangla Desh. Great singing from Dylan (with backup vocals from Harrison and Leon Russell).Barry - New York, Ny
i heard this song is about marijuana....does anybody support my viewRigo - El Centro, Ca
While in high school (all those years ago) I heard the rumor that this tune was written for the poet Allan Ginsburg. The lines "with your fog, amphetamine and your pearls" make that seem credible -- and its how I like to imagine the song.Debby - Brooklyn, Ny
jeff buckley also did a version of this song on his sin-e legacy edition album, which is one of the best on the album in my opinion.Deano - Middlesbrough, England
This is #230 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.Ross - Independence, Mo
I hear that Dylan wrote this song with the intention of Otis Redding singing it-- but Otis objected to the line about "her fog her amphetamine and her pearls" and it never happened.

Roberta Flack has also done a cover of this classic.
James - L.a., Ca
The Richie Havens version of this song is absolutely astounding. One of the most powerful solo accoustic songs I've ever heard. You can almost hear the blisters flying off his fingers in his final flourishes.Craig - Madison, Wi
Sedwick was neither a pin-up girl nor a model at the time of Blonde on Blonde'. She was part of Warhol's 'Factory'. Dylan & his manager, Albert Grossman, were luring her away from that scene.

To see what Dylan thought of Warhol (in my opinion) you can ref to the 'he' in his single 'Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?' (1965) or 'Dr. Filth' in 'Desolation Row' (1965)..anyway, it looks like a complicated story...the 'Factory Girl' will no doubt potray everything inaccurately. Sedgwick eventually got involved with Bob Neuwirth, one of Dylan's 'camp'. This probably caused a few complications. Ask Bob.
Martin - Ottawa, Canada
Stephen King alluded to this song in "Carrie." In the novel, Carrie White, an unpopular and abused girl, scribbled a phrase from the lyrics of this song over and over in her notebook.Sally - Shavertown, Pa
There is also a great cover version done by Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band on the Rudy the Fifth album.Johanna - Sheman Oaks, Ca
This is only partially about Sedgwick. Dylan claimed it was an amalgamation of different women he has been with over the years. Lines like "When we meet again introduced as friends, Please don't let on that you knew me when I was hungry and it was your world" seem to be aimed at Joan Baez, who was involved with Dylan while she was rich and famous and he was not.Matthew - New York, Ny
Leopard Skinned Pill box hat is also to be rumored about Edie Sedgwick it is discussed shortly by Nico in the book "Edie: An Ameican Girl"Ingrid - Huntington, Wv
Edie Sedgwick was not a pin up girl. She was a fashion model, and she became famous for appearing in Andy Warhol films. She was infatuated with Bob Dylan, and it was rumoured they had a fling.Kris - Toronto, Canada