All I Really Want To Do

Album: Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964)

Songfacts®:

  • This song is a four minute plea to a girl to stay together as friends. The girl appears to think that the narrator wants to progress their friendship, but the narrator continually assures her that "All I really want to do, is baby, be friends with you." This was likely to have been inspired by Dylan's separation from Suze Rotolo, who he dated between 1961 and 1964.
  • This formed part of Dylan's acoustic set on July 24, 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival. The next day, Dylan would perform again, only this time with a fully amplified band. This sparked outrage among the crowd of strict folk fans, who booed throughout Dylan's performance.
  • The Byrds and Cher both released a cover of this in 1965. This sparked a chart battle between the two artists. In the US, Cher's version proved most popular, peaking at #15 in comparison to The Byrds' #40. In the UK, the opposite was the case. The Byrds' cover version became the fastest selling single in CBS Records' history, peaking at #4 in comparison to Cher's #9.
  • Another Side of Bob Dylan saw Dylan withdraw from politically charged songs, to instead write on more personal issues. Dylan told The New Yorker at the time of release: "There aren't any finger-pointing songs in here... Me, I don't want to write for people any more - you know, a spokesman. From now on, I want to write from inside me, and to do that I'm going to have to get back to writing like I used to when I was ten - having everything come out naturally." This new approach to song writing resulted in a great deal of criticism from the folk community, who complained Dylan had lost touch with his audience.

Comments: 6

  • Seth from New YorkThe song is NOT about whether Dylan wants to be only Platonic friends or lovers or spouses with the woman.
    In the post-feminist age readers should realize that.
    It is about the conditions for the relationship Dylan wants to have--regardless of whether the relationship becomes physical.
    Dylan is offering a relationship based on respect--a friendship.(He probably does want to become lovers but that is irrelevant to the song.)
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 27th 1965, two versions of "All I Really Want To Do" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; the Byrd's version at #86 and Cher's version charted three position lower at #86...
    And both versions also peaked on the same week; on August 15th, 1965 Cher peaked at #15 (for 2 weeks); while the Byrds reached #40 (for 1 week)...
    The Byrd's version was sandwiched between two #1 records by the group; "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!".
  • Fred from Laurel, MdAs with many of the early Dylan songs, the better-known recording (at the time) was by someone else. In this case, both Cher and the Byrds put out singles of this song, and Cher's version won the battle of the charts. (Personally, I prefer the Byrds' version.) The Byrds also put it on their first album, "Mr. Tambourine Man" -- the title song of which is another Dylan tune.
  • Allen from Brooklyn, NyI think this song could be about his fans at the time. He was huge at the time and couldn't get away from the protest/folk scene and was just about done with it all.
  • David from Boston, MaI never thought this song was to be taken literally. The narrator is actually saying that he does not want to be "just friend". He is using BS lines to try to trick the prey into falling for him.
  • Jerry from Brooklyn, NyRight around the time this song came out, my sister tried to fix me up with one of her girl friends. This girl, me, my sister and her boyfriend and a few others went to Coney Island and went on some of the rides, I tried to put my arm around this girl when we were on the Wonder Wheel (an elaborate ferris wheel). She ducked out from under my arm and sang "All i really wnat to do..". Oh, well! I still think about that whenever I hear this song.
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