You Ain't Going Nowhere

Album: The Basement Tapes (1967)

Songfacts®:

  • The likely influence on this song was Dylan's 1967 motorcycle accident, which severely limited his mobility. The song was recorded in the basement of a house where members of The Band lived, and played with Dylan while he experimented with new sounds. The Basement Tapes album was not officially released until 1975, but the songs were circulated and this one drew the attention of The Byrds, who released it on their 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tom - Marble Falls, AR
  • The Byrds released "You Ain't Going Nowhere" as the first single off the album peaking at #45 in the US and #74 in the UK. Guitarist and singer Roger McGuinn recalled to Uncut that their record label, Columbia Records (which was also Dylan's record label), sent their producer Gary Usher some demos from Dylan's Woodstock sessions. Among them were "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" and "Nothing Was Delivered" (which the Byrds also recorded),

    "I thought they sounded really good," he said. "You didn't know what Bob was up to; and far as I knew, he was just laid up from a motorcycle accident. But I think it was probably a reaction to the psychedelic thing. It just got to be too much and everybody wanted to back off."
  • Dylan's original Basement Tapes demo of this song contained the lyric "Pick up your money, pack up your tent", which was mistakenly altered by McGuinn in the Byrds' version to "Pack up your money, pick up your tent." Dylan referenced this lyric change in his 1971 recording of the song, singing "Pack up your money, put up your tent McGuinn. You ain't goin' nowhere." Uncut asked McGuinn how he took that. He replied: "It was an honor to be in a Bob Dylan song! I got the words wrong and he changed all the words for his version of it. He and I have always been kind of like that. He likes to poke fun at me."

Comments: 6

  • Jennifur Sunyou all need to check out Roger singing this with Marty Stuart(who has Clarence Whites guitar and Roger had a cool white blinged out Rick
  • Doug from MaineInteresting note there, Jo. I knew Bob has made up a bunch of different lyrics for it over the years, mostly in that stream-of-consciousness way that he does so well, but didn't know about the reference to the Everlys.
    I performed it at an open mic on New Year's Day, and did the line about "pack up/pick up" the way McGuinn did it (and I played a 12-string), and threw in "Dylan" at the end as Kevin mentioned. The audience enjoyed it.
  • Jo from So Tx, TxGengis Khan and brother named Don is a reference to the Everly brothers at times contentious relationship that ened their performing together for around 10 years
  • Kevin from Reading , PaMcGuinn returns the favor in a late '80s version he and Chris Hillman cut with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for their "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." McGuinn sings, "pack up your money pull up your tent, Dyl-an, you ain't a goin' nowhere."

    It may be Dylan's song, but McGuinn does it best, and continues to perform it to this day in his solo acoustic shows.
  • Jonathan from Armorel, ArRoger McGuinn of The Byrds buggered a line, transposing the words "pack" and "pick"...so, on a rerecording of the song for GREATEST HITS 2, Dylan sort of calls him out: "Pack up your money, pick up your tent, McGuinn--you ain't goin' nowhere!". All in good fun, of course....
  • Genghis Khan from Little Pee Pee, CanadaThis is an amazing song. I'm shocked there are no comments on it. I can't believe how a song this beautiful is so overlooked. "Get your mind off wintertime, 'cause you aint goin nowhere..."
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