Fourth Time Around

Album: Blonde On Blonde (1966)


  • This documents what could be a quarrel between two lovers, or a prostitute and her client: "When she said/'Don't waste your words, they're just lies'/I cried she was deaf." The woman eventually kicks the man out of her house: "She threw me outside/I stood in the dirt where ev'ryone walked." He then comes back to pick up his shirt, and in her rage, the woman chokes on her gum, leaving the guy to snoop around: "She screamed till her face got so red/Then she fell on the floor/And I covered her up and then/Thought I'd go look through her drawer."
  • Many believe this song was written in response to "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" by The Beatles, since it is similar, both melodically and lyrically. John Lennon was unsure whether the song was a homage or a warning. This is because the song concludes with an ambiguous final verse, where Dylan goes from the pronoun "she," to instead address someone directly with the pronoun "you." This final verse contains the line "I never asked for your crutch/Now don't ask for mine." John was concerned that Bob thought he was using Dylan's music as a crutch for his own song writing. Others argue this line is actually about the folk singer, Joan Baez, who had been close to Dylan in his early days and helped him to garner initial success. Now, however, it was Baez who tended to rely on Dylan's success.
  • A live version of this song featured in the 2001 movie, Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise.
  • Blonde on Blonde is Bob Dylan's seventh studio album. It is widely considered one of his greatest works. In 2003, the album was ranked at #9 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Comments: 4

  • Christine from Underhill, VtThis is a rambling narrative where Dylan interacts with a woman - where you get the idea that she is a prostitute is beyond me, unless it is the statement "everyone must give something back, something to get," which is just a philosophical statement about life on her part. This is what prompts Dylan to give her his last piece of gum. When she chokes on the gum, it's in reaction to his pointing out her hypocrisy in not giving him any rum. The impression is that she is a rather pontificating, hypocritical, and rather hysterical person; the "Norwegian Wood" tune is going on pleasantly in the background the whole time, representing the typically Dylanesque sardonically bemused and emotionally removed attitude to the whole bizarre episode. There, that's what it's "about." Oh - and, since it's on BLONDE ON BLONDE, it's a safe bet the woman is Joan Baez.
  • Nikolai from Los Angeles, CaI was under the impression this was a parody of "Norwegian Wood". It was supposed to be the fourth song in a set of songs that sounded like each other. "Norwegian Wood" sounds Dylan influenced, and before that "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is Dylan-esque, while in between, Dylan had a song closer resembling the Beatles sound. So this would be the Fourth Time Around that one of them sounds like the other.
  • Mat from Portland, OrI don't agree with the prostitute "fact" above.
  • Jason from State Of Fitz, NjIt's a great song. Dylan claimed to have played it for the Beatles and then Lennon wrote "Norweigan wood". who know? Dylan won't tell us...
see more comments

Editor's Picks

N.W.A vs. the World

N.W.A vs. the WorldSong Writing

How the American gangsta rappers made history by getting banned in the UK.

Jeff Trott

Jeff TrottSongwriter Interviews

Sheryl Crow's longtime songwriting partner/guitarist Jeff Trott reveals the stories behind many of the singer's hits, and what its like to be a producer for Leighton Meester and Max Gomez.

American Hits With Foreign Titles

American Hits With Foreign TitlesSong Writing

What are the biggest US hits with French, Spanish (not "Rico Suave"), Italian, Scottish, Greek, and Japanese titles?

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music Scene

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music SceneSong Writing

With $50 and a glue stick, Bruce Pavitt created Sub Pop, a fanzine-turned-label that gave the world Nirvana and grunge. He explains how motivated individuals can shift culture.

Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee JonesSongwriter Interviews

Rickie Lee Jones on songwriting, social media, and how she's handling Trump.

Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets

Curt Kirkwood of Meat PuppetsSongwriter Interviews

The (Meat)puppetmaster takes us through songs like "Lake Of Fire" and "Backwater," and talks about performing with Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged.