Bob Dylan

I Want You

Song Review by

"I Want You" is not one of the more discussed songs off Blonde on Blonde by critics. But it was one of his most successful 1960s recordings, reaching the Top 20 in 1966 as a single. Dylan was not the greatest writer of melodies even at his peak, and one of the reasons "I Want You" was selected as a single, no doubt, was that it had far stronger hooks than most of his compositions. The principal one was the dancing organ, bouncy and circus-like in tone, heard in the opening instrumental section. That organ keeps interjecting, though subtly, during the verses, which boast one of Dylan's most wistful tunes, though the arrangement is upbeat and rocking. "I Want You" is, like many of his mid-'60s numbers, a love song, but a most enigmatic and surrealistically phrased one. The scenario Dylan seems to be describing is one in which the whole world is conspiring to keep him from declaring and solidifying his love. It's not the whole world in a paranoid pop Gene Pitney-Roy Orbison sense, but the whole world as represented by some downright weird characters (for a pop song, certainly): a lonesome organ grinder, a drunken politician, a guilty undertaker, a child in a Chinese suit. But Dylan's uncowed, exulting joyfully in the chorus that he wants her anyway. There's a brief bridge in which the melody briefly gets darker before resolving with more optimistic, sunny progressions; it's a good section, and it's a little surprising that it's only used once in the song. Dylan's sing-speak voice sounds worn but playful on "I Want You," and there's more than a touch of surrealistic humor, especially in the line where he takes a flute from the child in a Chinese suit and admonishes himself: "No I wasn't very cute to him, was I?" Some energetic harmonica work helps drive a song which certainly rates among Dylan's peppiest. Considering that it was a pretty big hit, there haven't been that many cover versions of "I Want You." Two of the more famous acts to tackle the tune were the Hollies, who put it on their late '60s album of Dylan covers, and Bruce Springsteen, who did it live (but did not release it) in the mid-'70s.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Blonde on Blonde 1966 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 3:07
Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits 1967 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 3:09
Biograph 1985 Columbia 3:07
Masterpieces 1998 Columbia 3:06
The Essential Bob Dylan 2000 Columbia 0:00
The Best of Bob Dylan, Vol. 2 2000 Columbia 3:06
No Image 2000 Sony Music Distribution 3:04
No Image 2001 Sony Music Distribution / Columbia 3:09
Blonde on Blonde/Blood on the Tracks/Time Out of Mind 2001 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 3:07
Bringing It All Back Home/Highway 61 Revisited/Blonde on Blonde 2002 Sony Music Distribution
Bob Dylan [Limited Edition Hybrid SACD Set] 2003 Legacy 3:07
Greatest Hits, Vol. 1-3 2003 Legacy / Columbia 3:09
The Collection, Vol. 3: Blonde on Blonde/Blood on the Tracks/Infidels 2005 Legacy / Columbia 3:07
Playlist: The Very Best of Bob Dylan '60s 2008 Legacy / Playlist 3:07
The Best of the Original Mono Recordings 2010 Columbia / Legacy 3:01
The Original Mono Recordings 2010 Columbia / Sony Music 3:05
Pure... 60s 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:06
Music & Photos 2013 Columbia 3:05
The Complete Album Collection, Vol. 1 2013 Columbia Records / Sony Music 4:04