Ain’t: Bob Dylan vs. The Byrds

Whenever I listen to Bob Dylan’s song “Mr Tambourine Man”, I catch myself being surprised at the line:

I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.

Shouldn’t it be ain’t in this context? Googling for the line, I stumbled upon the same song but sung by The Byrds, so yes, it seems that my expectations when listening to Bob Dylan. are based on their version of the song. Ain’t of course does occur in another Dylan song, “It ain’t me babe”. So what happened? Which is the original version, why the difference? Any ideas?

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One Response to Ain’t: Bob Dylan vs. The Byrds

  1. Morana Lukač says:

    This is very interesting! The language of this Dylan’s work was also addressed in several corpus studies of his lyrics. This small diachronic study was published in honor of Dylan’s 72nd birthday this year: http://danschmidtke.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/time-out-of-mind-a-corpus-linguistic-analysis-of-50-years-worth-of-bob-dylan-lyrics/, and here you can find an article on the semantic and syntactic analysis of the Dylan Corpus: http://journal.oraltradition.org/files/articles/22i/Khalifa.pdf. It seems there are quite a few enthusiastic linguists Dylanologists out there.

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