On a Night Like This (Bob Dylan song)

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"On a Night Like This"
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Planet Waves
B-side"You Angel You"
ReleasedMarch 1974
Format7-inch single
RecordedNovember 8, 1973
StudioThe Village Recorder, West Los Angeles, California
GenreRoots rock
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Rob Fraboni
Bob Dylan singles chronology
"A Fool Such as I"
"On a Night Like This"
"Something There Is About You"

"On a Night Like This" is a song written by Bob Dylan and recorded in November 1973. It first appeared on Dylan's 14th studio album, Planet Waves, as the opening track,[1] it was also released as the lead single from the album and reached #44 on the Billboard Hot 100[2] The song later appeared on several Dylan compilation albums including Biograph, in 1985, and Dylan (three-disc version), in 2007.[3][4]

Lyrics and music[edit]

According to Dylan, "On a Night Like This" was not a typical song for him to write, saying that it "comes off as sort of like a drunk man who's temporarily sober.".[5] Dylan biographer Clinton Heylin found the song a disappointing start to Planet Waves.[6] However, he did acknowledge some positive features: that "playing swings" and that Dylan is in good voice,[6] he also acknowledges some clever lyrics. For example, he sees in the lines:

Build a fire, throw on logs
And listen to it hiss
And let it burn, burn, burn, burn

a clever take on Jack Kerouac's use of the phrase "burn, burn, burn" in On the Road in which Dylan means the opposite of Kerouac.[6] He also finds amusement in Dylan's reference to Fats Domino and Dylan's own "The Man in Me" in the lines:

Let the four winds blow
Around this old cabin door[6]

Author Oliver Trager noted the "rustic" feel resulting from the "twangy, loose musicianship" and noted that visceral effects the song produces in allowing the listener to feel the window frost and smell the burning wood described in the song.[clarification needed][5] Trager particularly praises Dylan's harmonica and Garth Hudson's accordion playing.[5] Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine rates the song's "unassuming nature" as a "virtue."[7]

Cover versions[edit]

Los Lobos recorded a version of the song for the soundtrack of the 2003 film Masked and Anonymous.[8] Buckwheat Zydeco covered the song on his 1987 album On a Night Like This.[9] Jimmy Fallon also played this with Buckwheat Zydeco on the last night of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[10]


  1. ^ Williamson, N. The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan (1st ed, 2004), p. 218, ISBN 1-84353-139-9
  2. ^ "Planet Waves awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  3. ^ Erlewine, S.T. "Biograph". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-05-26.
  4. ^ Erlewine, S.T. "Dylan [2007]". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-05-26.
  5. ^ a b c Trager, O. (2004). Keys to the Rain. Billboard Books. p. 467. ISBN 0823079740.
  6. ^ a b c d Heylin, C. (2009). Revolution in the Air. Chicago Review Press. p. 447. ISBN 9781556528439.
  7. ^ Erlewine, S.T. "Planet Waves". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  8. ^ Erlewine, S.T. "Masked and Anonymous". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-05-26.
  9. ^ Greenberg, A. "On a Night Like This". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-05-26.
  10. ^ "Buckwheat Zydeco » Buckwheat Zydeco Kicks Off Final Fallon Show". Buck.wjlabs.net. Retrieved 2016-10-09.

External links[edit]