Bob Dylan Countdown #198: “Nobody ‘Cept You”

I can understand why this song was left off Planet Waves, Dylan’s 1974 collaboration with The Band. It’s a solid song, better than a few others on the album. But the album is already pretty weighed down with love songs, and this one might have got lost in the shuffle next to more overtly powerful stuff like “Dirge” and “Going, Going, Gone.”

It’s also doubtful that the version released on Bootleg Series would have been left as is had it made the album. There likely would have been tinkering and polishing before that point. As it stands, the song sounds at times like The Band is just warming up and feeling their way through it, and the recording suffers for that casualness.

Still, there’s an undercurrent of desperation running between the lines here that makes this more than just an ordinary song of praise for a beloved. Much of Dylan’s material around this point had uncertainty on the margins even as love inhabited the center. “Nobody Cept You” is ostensibly a love song, and yet there is a trip to the graveyard included, where the “bones of life are piled.”

It’s pretty clear the depth of emotion that the singer feels for the titular “You” in this song. What isn’t clear is if those powerful feelings of love are enough to stave off the encroaching darkness. Nothing less than the narrator’s possibilities for a happy life are at stake in this battle, and it’s that unexpected import to the proceedings that makes “Nobody ‘Cept You” a little more than just what it seems to be on the surface.

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