It’s not one of Bob Dylan’s major works, but “I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)” ranks among my favorites of his. Like may songs on Another Side of Bob Dylan, the song deals with Dylan’s relationship with a woman. However, it is very clear from the beginning of the song that there was no relationship involved at all – other than a night of intoxicated love. When the morning breaks, he’s in a bed by himself and possibly hung-over.
For a Dylan song of this era, “I Don’t Believe You” has a memorable and strong melody. Dylan sings it with a slight silliness (as if he knows the night before that got him in this situation in the first place is ridiculous) and a slight bit of anger (as if you were to agree with him that he got burned). But he’s just angry because he wants to know why the hell she doesn’t show some acknowledge of what transpired the night before – “And now morning is clear, it’s like I ain’t here”. The Beatles wanted to be treated like they were the night before, but here Dylan just wants the woman to see him, and not act like they never knew each other. Finally he has enough – and tells her that he can just pick anyone and act like they never have met.
There are two great live versions of the song to be found on the Bootleg Series. The version found on “The Royal Albert Hall Concert” is completely transformed by an electric arrangement, and the melody is barely recognizable.
Dylan’s introduction to the song is hilarious on the 1964 show. “This is about all the people that say they’ve never seen you,” He says with a laugh as he begins strumming the chords to the song. “I’m sure everybody’s met someone that swears they’ve never seen them. Hi!” Cleared stoned then Dylan can’t quite seem to get the song started and then has to ask the audience if anyone knows the first words to the song, to which an audience member shouts out, “I can’t understand!” Finally pulling him together, Dylan gives a faithful but superb version of the song.