The song Bob Dylan will never play live

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan can choose from hundreds of songs when assembling a live setlist. His repertoire consistently includes hits like “Tangled Up in Blue” and “It Ain’t Me, Babe.” It also features essential protest songs like “The Times They Are A-Changin.” Additionally, there is an increasing number of selections from his bootleg series. It seems like an impossible task to condense it to a set hour and a half and still showcase his stellar career and satisfy audiences.

Nevertheless, there are some songs that Dylan doesn’t even think about when it comes to choosing his set. Even the folk legend, who is regarded as one of the greatest lyricists of all time, has made some mistakes in songwriting. These are mistakes he would prefer not to repeat on stage. “Ballad in Plain D,” which was included on his fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, is one instance of this.

It was appropriate that the song revealed a different side of Dylan. This side was more inclined to express his doubts and relationship problems through a nasty song. Over easygoing, gentle strums, the song traced his romantic relationship with artist Suze Rotolo. It followed their journey from the beginning of their courtship to the end of their union. Dylan begins the song with a tender description of his sweetheart, comparing her to a lamb and a fawn. However, the affair soon goes sour.

Dylan makes fun of his lover’s sister, calling her a “parasite” and declaring that he has no regard for her. He also recounts a particularly heated argument they had. He sings, “Her sister in between, the victim of sound, and me in a screaming battleground.” His words have turned violent and resentful, losing the tenderness they had earlier in the song.

Despite being in love with Dylan at the time, Rotolo had no ill will towards him for writing “Ballad in Plain D.” Even the songwriter was embarrassed by the song. It makes sense that, given the lyrics’ content, he regretted writing it. The song vividly depicts his relationship with Rotolo and her family, though not in a positive light. Even the songwriter finds it difficult to listen to at times.

Dylan has never performed the song live, which has been a constant indication of his distaste for it in his set lists over the years. Among the 136 songs Dylan has never performed live are “Band of the Hand (It’s Hell Time Man!)” and “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.” It doesn’t appear that Dylan will perform the song again live anytime soon.

Neither does it appear that Dylan’s fan base is especially hankering after “Ballad in Plain D”‘s live premiere. The song hasn’t received much positive feedback from critics; in fact, Far Out listed it as one of Dylan’s top 10 worst songs. With so many other amazing songs in his catalog, there’s no reason Dylan would include this song in his live set, as it’s not a fan favorite.

Dylan’s honesty and observations about the world around him have always made his songs stand out, but “Ballad in Plain D” represents the worst of that kind of writing. Dylan might never perform the song live for as long as he regrets writing it.

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