This song down the path of being a Dylan fan. The raw angry emotional way Dylan spits out the lyrics sounds true. The song never lets up…Bob just keeps hammering away at someone relentlessly. The song was rumored about people rather than one person. The people rumored were Phil Ochs, Richard Farina, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and various journalists but we will probably never know because I don’t see Dylan opening up about it. I always thought of this song as Like a Rolling Stone’s sister song.
Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, You’d know what a drag it is to see you… cutting and brilliant. The song peaked at #7 in the Billboard 100 and #8 in the UK in 1965.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, this song is about all the naysayers and plastic people Dylan encountered during his time in Greenwich Village (when he lived on West 4th street) and his stint on fraternity row at the University of Minnesota (located on 4th Street in Minneapolis). The song deals with the jealousy he encountered from people in the artistic community who resented his success.
Positively 4th Street
You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend
When I was down you just stood there grinnin’
You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on the side that’s winnin’
You say I let you down, ya know its not like that
If you’re so hurt, why then don’t you show it?
You say you’ve lost your faith, but that’s not where its at
You have no faith to lose, and ya know it
I know the reason, that you talked behind my back
I used to be among the crowd you’re in with
Do you take me for such a fool, to think I’d make contact
With the one who tries to hide what he don’t know to begin with?
You see me on the street, you always act surprised
You say “how are you?”, “good luck”, but ya don’t mean it
When you know as well as me, you’d rather see me paralyzed
Why don’t you just come out once and scream it
No, I do not feel that good when I see the heartbreaks you embrace
If I was a master thief perhaps I’d rob them
And tho I know you’re dissatisfied with your position and your place
Don’t you understand, its not my problem?
I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment I could be you
Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is to see you