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"All I Really Want to Do"
Song by Bob Dylan

from the album Another Side of Bob Dylan

Released August 8, 1964
Length 4:04
Label Columbia Records
Writer Bob Dylan
Producer Tom Wilson
Another Side of Bob Dylan track listing
  1. "All I Really Want to Do"
  2. "Black Crow Blues"
  3. "Spanish Harlem Incident"
  4. "Chimes of Freedom"
  5. "I Shall Be Free No. 10"
  6. "To Ramona"
  7. "Motorpsycho Nitemare"
  8. "My Back Pages"
  9. "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)"
  10. "Ballad in Plain D"
  11. "It Ain't Me Babe"
"All I Really Want to Do"

1965 Norwegian picture sleeve
Single by The Byrds
from the album Mr. Tambourine Man
B-side "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better"
Released June 14, 1965
Format 7" single
Recorded March 8, April 14, 1965, Columbia Studios, Hollywood, CA
Genre Folk rock
Length 2:02
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Bob Dylan
Producer Terry Melcher
The Byrds singles chronology
"Mr. Tambourine Man"
(1965)
"All I Really Want to Do"
(1965)
"Turn! Turn! Turn!"
(1965)
Mr. Tambourine Man track listing
"The Bells of Rhymney"
(6)
"All I Really Want to Do"
(7)
"I Knew I'd Want You"
(8)
"All I Really Want to Do"
Single by Cher
from the album All I Really Want to Do
B-side "I'm Gonna Love You"
Released May 1965
Format 7" single
Recorded 1965
Genre Folk rock
Length 2:59
Label Imperial Records
Writer(s) Bob Dylan
Producer Sonny Bono
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Cher singles chronology
"All I Really Want to Do"
(1965)
"Where Do You Go?"
(1965)
All I Really Want to Do track listing
"All I Really Want to Do"
(1)
"I Go to Sleep"
(2)
Music sample
"All I Really Want to Do" (Cher version)

"All I Really Want to Do" is a song written by Bob Dylan and featured on his Tom Wilson-produced, 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan (see 1964 in music).[1][2] It is arguably one of the most popular songs that Dylan wrote in the period immediately after he abandoned topical songwriting.[3] Within a year of its release on Another Side of Bob Dylan, the song had also become one of Dylan's most familiar songs to pop and rock audiences, due to hit cover versions by Cher and The Byrds.[3]

Contents

Song information

"All I Really Want to Do" was first released on Dylan's 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan, and was also included on the Dylan compilations Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II in 1971 and the 3-disc edition of Dylan in 2007.[4] Two different live versions of the song were released on Bob Dylan at Budokan in 1979 and on The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964, Concert at Philharmonic Hall in 2004.[4]

Musically simple, though playful, "All I Really Want to Do" is essentially a list of things, physical and psychological, that Dylan does not want to do or be to the listener (perhaps a woman, but just as likely his audience as a whole), claiming in the chorus that all he wants to do is to be friends.[3]

The Byrds' version

"All I Really Want to Do" was the second single by the American folk rock band The Byrds, and was released on June 14, 1965 by Columbia Records (see 1965 in music).[5] The song was also included on the band's debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man, which was released on June 21, 1965.[5] The version of the song released as a single is a completely different take to the version found on the Mr. Tambourine Man album, as evidenced by the slight lyrical variations in the song's first verse and the different running times the two versions have; the single is 2:02 minutes in length while the album version is slightly longer at 2:04.[6] The single reached #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on the UK Singles Chart.[7][8]

The single was rush-released by Columbia Records when it became known that Cher was about to issue a rival cover version on the Imperial label (see below).[9] The Byrds and their management were largely unconcerned about Cher's imminent release, feeling that there was enough room in the charts for both versions.[9] In fact, The Byrds were reluctant to release another Dylan-penned single at all, feeling that it was somewhat formulaic.[10] However, Columbia were insistent, believing that, following the success of The Byrds' debut single, "Mr. Tambourine Man", another Dylan cover equaled an instant hit.[10] A chart battle ensued, largely instigated by Columbia (who were determined to bury Cher's release) and the music press, but ultimately the single stalled at #40 on the U.S. charts, while Cher's cover reached #15.[9] The reverse was true in the UK, however, where The Byrds' version became the fastest selling single in CBS Records' history, finally reaching #4 while Cher's recording peaked at #9.[11][12]

The Byrds' version of the song is noticeably different in structure to Dylan's. It begins with Jim McGuinn's jangling guitar introduction (played on a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar) and features a substantially changed, ascending melody progression in the chorus, made more attractive by the band's angelic harmonies.[3] In addition, the band completely changed the melody to one of the song's verses, in order to turn it into a Beatlesque, minor-key bridge.[3]

Reaction to the single in the press was generally positive, with Billboard magazine commenting "another hot pop, folk-flavoured Bob Dylan tune is offered by the dynamic group."[10] In the UK, Penny Valentine, writing in Disc, opined "I think this is a marvelous song, but, Byrds fan though I have always been, I prefer the Sonny & Cher [sic] recording."[12] In the NME, Derek Johnson also praised the single, predicting it would be a UK number one, and commenting "The pattern is much the same as before, with those familiar high-register harmonies - clearly influenced by the West Coast surf sound...coupled with strident twangs throughout, rattling tambourines, and crashing cymbals."[12]

In addition to appearing on The Byrds' debut album, the song is included on several Byrds' compilation albums, including The Byrds' Greatest Hits, The Original Singles: 1965–1967, Volume 1, The Byrds, The Essential Byrds, The Byrds Play Dylan, and There Is a Season.[13]

Cher's version

"All I Really Want to Do" was Cher's debut single. Released in May 1965, it reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #9 in the United Kingdom charts.[13][14][15] Cher's recording of the song also charted in several other countries during 1965. Cher's version was involved in a chart battle with The Byrds' recording of "All I Really Want to Do" when both versions entered the Billboard Hot 100 during the same week (see above).[9]

The initial idea to cover the song came when Cher heard The Byrds perform it during their pre-fame residency at Ciro's nightclub on the Sunset Strip in March 1965.[9][16] This caused a minor controversy when it was alleged by The Byrds and their management that Cher and her husband, Sonny Bono, had taped one of The Byrds' appearances at Ciro's without permission, in order to utilize some of the band's material for their own releases.[9] However, Cher's version is, in fact, quite different to The Byrds' recording and lacks the Beatlesesque bridge that remained unique to their version.[10] Ultimately, Cher's cover was the more successful in the U.S., reaching the Billboard Top 10, while The Byrds' single faltered at #40. The reverse was true in the UK, where The Byrds' single reached #4.[12]

Cher continued to perform the song in concerts, usually as part of a hits medly, up to and including her 2002-2005 tour, Living Proof: The Farewell Tour.

Other cover versions

Charts

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The Byrds

Chart (1965) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 40
UK Singles Chart 4

Cher

Chart (1965) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 15
Canadian Singles Chart 26
Dutch Top 40 Singles Chart 15
Swedish Singles Chart 13
UK Singles Chart 9

References

  1. ^ Williams, Paul. (2004). Bob Dylan: Performing Artist 1960-1973: The Early Years. Music Sales Ltd. p. 107. ISBN 1-844-49095-5.  
  2. ^ "Another Side of Bob Dylan". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:fifqxqt5ld0e. Retrieved 2009-12-02.  
  3. ^ a b c d e "All I Really Want to Do - Song Review". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=33:f9fexqqdldfe. Retrieved 2009-12-02.  
  4. ^ a b "All I Really Want to Do album appearances". Bob Dylan Official Website. http://www.bobdylan.com/#/songs/all-i-really-want-do. Retrieved 2009-12-02.  
  5. ^ a b Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited. Rogan House. pp. 543-545. ISBN 0-95295-401-X.  
  6. ^ Rogan, Johnny. (1996). Mr. Tambourine Man (1996 CD liner notes).  
  7. ^ "The Byrds chart data". Ultimate Music Database. http://www.umdmusic.com/default.asp?Lang=English&Search=Byrds&Where=Bands. Retrieved 2009-07-28.  
  8. ^ Brown, Tony. (2000). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 130. ISBN 0-7119-7670-8.  
  9. ^ a b c d e f Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited. Rogan House. pp. 81-83. ISBN 0-95295-401-X.  
  10. ^ a b c d Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. p. 39. ISBN 1-90600-215-0.  
  11. ^ Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited. Rogan House. p. 104. ISBN 0-95295-401-X.  
  12. ^ a b c d Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. p. 57. ISBN 1-90600-215-0.  
  13. ^ a b "All I Really Want to Do – Byrds' Version". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=33:azfpxxtsld0e. Retrieved 2009-07-28.  
  14. ^ "Billboard Top 40 Hits (1965)". cyList. http://www.cylist.com/List/400300175. Retrieved 2009-07-28.  
  15. ^ Brown, Tony. (2000). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 156. ISBN 0-7119-7670-8.  
  16. ^ Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. pp. 28-29. ISBN 1-90600-215-0.  

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