As far as I can tell, the Byrds' recording of "Mr. Tambourine Man" was the first time anyone put really good poetry on the radio The Beatles hadn't gotten to "Eleanor Rigby" or "A Day in the Life" — they were still writing "Ooh, baby." But Bob's lyrics were exquisite. "To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free" — that was the line that got me. At the time of "Mr. Tambourine Man," I think he was finding himself as a poet. He was learning to be beautiful.
I had seen Bob back at Gerde's Folk City in New York years earlier. Everyone was talking about him. I saw him play and thought, "Fuck, I can sing better than that. Why are they making all that fuss about him?" Then I started really listening. And I almost quit, right there. Truthfully, I think the Byrds were Bob's best translators. Bob did not envision this song the way we did it. When he came to the studio where we were rehearsing and heard us do "Mr. Tambourine Man," he was stoked. I think hearing our version was part of what made Dylan shift over to being a rocker. He thought, "Wait a minute, that's my song," and he heard how it could be different.