011 – “Don’t You Try Me Now”

Episode 11. Don’t You Try Me Now.” The Bootleg Series, Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete. Bunker. May 11, 2017.

Our second song from The Basement Tapes, it’s just as obtuse as “King of France,” if not more so. We tried to keep this, from Robert Shelton, in mind before we began:

Dylan’s Basement songs fall into two principal categories. The first is songs tinctured with the search for salvation… The second category is songs of joy, signaling some form of deliverance and including most of the remaining titles.

Sounds good, but what does this have to do with “Don’t You Try Me Now?” Greil Marcus describes the song as

Another Dylan original – this time a rhythmic blues in the Fats Domino mold. Somewhere in the background a lap or pedal steel slides to imitate the Chicago Blues of Elmore James. When Garth starts playing the boogie-woogie beat on the organ halfway through the track, things really start to jell.

“Don’t You Try Me Now” is an early cut from the beginnings of the project, recorded in Dylan’s living room, “The Red Room,” in Woodstock in the spring of 1967. It was sandwiched between other unknown tracks: “Lock Your Door,” “Baby, Won’t You Be My Baby,” “Try Me Little Girl,” “I Can’t Make It Alone,” “One For the Road” and “One Man’s Loss.” These went undocumented at first because none of them were copyrighted in ’67, ’68, ’70, ’71, ’73 or ’75. In all, this song is basically Dylan and the Band getting into the process of writing and are snapshots of a moment.

The song itself was difficult to grasp onto. The lyrics were simple but unformed. It’s one more song about a guy warning a girl not to mess around with his delicate heart.

The only good to come from this was a concentrated effort to group songs from The Basement Tapes together (i.e., the seven listed above) into episodes so that there can be some kind of context beyond the general lore of the sessions themselves.

Recommendations: Kelly recommended Hovvdy’s Taster

Daniel went on waaaay too long about At the Drive In’s new album, and first in 17 years, in•ter a•li•a. He also shouts out Football Club from Australia, who had released a few EPs on Spotify.

Endings: Kelly guessed #523 “Trust Yourself” off 1985’s Empire Burlesque. Thankfully, it was #447, “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.”

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