Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan)

5 JANUARY 1966


Bob Dylan’s ‘Positively 4th Street’ was now moving down the UK charts after peaking at #8. Much like his previous single - ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ - this was a gorgeous bit of music matched with bitter and derisive lyrics. It felt like Dylan was using his stardom to settle old scores and put people down. It was obviously aimed at someone he knew, but nobody was quite sure who and so it ended up offending a lot of people who thought it was about them.

In terms of contemporary influence, Dylan was very much royalty at this time and the UK and US charts of 1966 were full of songs he had written, with their gorgeously rich music and biting lyrics, although most of these were cover versions by other artists.

Dylan’s people work hard to keep his stuff off YouTube, so here is Johnny Rivers' 1968 version of ‘Positively 4th Street’, the one that Dylan actually preferred to his own.

B-side: 'From a Buick 6'
Released: September 7, 1965
Highest chart positions: #8 (UK), #7 (US)
Recorded: July 29, 1965
Length: 3:54
Label: Columbia 43389
Writer: Bob Dylan
Producer: Bob Johnston

Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan)

'You got a lotta nerve
To say you are my friend
When I was down you just stood there grinning
You got a lotta nerve
To say you gotta helping hand to lend
You just want to be on the side that's winning

You say I let you down
You know it's not like that
If you're so hurt why then don't you show it
You say you've lost your faith
But that's not where it's at
You have no faith to lose and you know it

I know the reason
That you talk behind my back
I used to be among the crowd you're in with
Do you take me for such a fool
To think I'd make contact
With the one who tries to hide what it don't know to begin with

You see me on the street
You always act surprised
You say, "How are you? Good luck."
But you don't mean it
When you know as well as me
You'd rather see me paralyzed
Why don't you just come out once and scream it

No, I do not feel that good
When I see the heartbreaks you embrace
If I was a master thief perhaps I'd rob them
And though I know you're dissatisfied
With your position and your place
Don't you understand it's not my problem

I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And for just that one moment I could be you
Yes I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You'd know what a drag it is to see you'