Exclusive: Bob Dylan’s Hand-Written Lyrics For ‘Nothing To It’ – Check ‘Em Out Now!

Copy of the handwritten lyrics to ‘Nothing To It.’

Last year a box of lyrics that Bob Dylan had written during the summer of 1967 for songs that he never wrote music for, or recorded, was given to producer T Bone Burnett.

Now, for the first time, we get to see what the original page on which Dylan wrote the lyrics to one of the songs that will appear on the Burnett-produced album Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes, looks like.

That song, “Nothing To It,” was released as a lyric video the other day.

Examining Dylan’s page of lyrics, we can see how Jim James rearranged the order of the verses and chorus for his version of the song.

The lyrics, as written by Bob Dylan:

You don’t have to turn your pockets inside out
But I’m sure you can give me something
You don’t have to go into your bank account
but I’m sure you don’t have to give me nothing

I knew that I was young enough
And I knew there was nothing to it
for I’d already seen it done enough
And I knew there was nothing to it

There was no organization I wanted to join
So I stayed by myself and took out a coin

There I saw sat in with my eyes in my hand –
contemplating killing a man – for
Greed was one thing I just couldn’t stand

If I was you, I’d put back what I took
A guilty man has got a guilty look

Heads I will and tails I won’t
So the decision wouldn’t be my own

The lyrics as sung by Jim James:

Well I knew I was young enough
And I knew there was nothing to it
‘Cause I’d already seen it done enough
And I knew there was nothing to it

There was no organization I wanted to join
So I stayed by myself and took out a coin

There I sat with my eyes in my hand –
just contemplating killing a man – for
Greed was one thing I just couldn’t stand

If I was you, I’d put back what I took
A guilty man’s got a guilty look

Heads I will and tails I won’t
Long as the call wouldn’t be my own

Well you don’t have to turn your pockets inside out
But I’m sure you can give me something
Well you don’t have to go into your bank account
but I’m sure you can give me something

Well I knew I was young enough
And I knew there was nothing to it
‘Cause I’d already seen it done enough
And I knew there was nothing to it

Well I knew I was young enough
And I knew there was nothing to it
‘Cause I’d already seen it done enough
And I knew there was nothing to it

And I knew there was nothing to it
And I knew there was nothing to it
And I knew there was nothing to it
And I knew there was nothing to it

So the changes Jim James made amount to starting the song with the chorus, then singing what follows after the chorus, then singing what for Dylan is the first verse, and then a return to the chorus.

And there’s one other change.

As Dylan wrote it, the first verse ends with the line:

but I’m sure you don’t have to give me nothing

But James repeats the second line of the first verse instead:

but I’m sure you can give me something

Check it out:

I’m looking forward to seeing what Burnett and his crew did with the rest of the lyrics. This one is an auspicious first song.

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” I’ve got a Goodreads. book giveaway going right now. Click here and enter.]

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

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