“I can change I swear, oh, oh / See what you can do”. This is a pretty remarkable break-up song that picks right up from where “Simple Twist of Fate” left off.
“You’re A Big Girl Now” is one hell of a passive aggressive love song. Parts are pure, beautiful mush:
Bird on the horizon, sittin’ on a fence
He’s singin’ his song for me at his own expense
And I’m just like that bird, oh, oh
Singin’ just for you
I hope that you can hear
Hear me singin’ through these tears
While other parts, much less so:
Love is so simple, to quote a phrase
You’ve known it all the time, I’m learnin’ it these days
Oh, I know where I can find you, oh, oh
In somebody’s room
It’s a price I have to pay
You’re a big girl all the way
The New York version of this song can be found on Biograph. It’s much more spare in the opening, and gets richer as the fiddle and organ come in during the third verse (the fourth on the album version, he reverses the order of the verses in this version). The Minneapolis version has fuller guitar, plus the cymbal-playing of the drummer. The guitar playing is quite lovely, but Dylan’s vocals are better of the New York version with a single huge exception – the “oooooohs” on the album version are superior. It’s a conundrum. Hard to pick which one is actually preferable. He didn’t play this live in 1975 at all (it debuted in 1978, but has been played more than 200 times since then), so he doesn’t break the tie. I think if push came to shove, I’d go with the version on Biograph.
Of course, the great thing about the song is just how ridiculously patronizing it is. Try to sing the title of this song to any woman that you’ve ever broken up with and you’re likely to get punched in the face. For those who want to argue that Dylan’s break-up songs convey a touch of misogyny, this is a good one to add to the argument.
Did you know that Lloyd Cole covered this song? I didn’t!
Scary Dylan photo above has nothing to do with the song, but it’s just so great.