Things Twice

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 was Dylan's biggest hit single, reaching #2 on the Billboard charts in April 1966. The song is about persecution and criticism, although the joke in the chorus is about marijuana (or maybe alcohol). But what is the meaning of the title?

Originally compiled: May 16, 1998
Last revised: May 24, 1998
Subject: RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35
From: Peter Stone Brown (
Date: 1997/02/03

Well, way back when this song was a single and all, some people said that a Rainy Day Woman was a joint as in a reefer, so some people had a lot of fun imagining Mr. D. with about say 50 reefers and he picked out numbers 12 & 35.


Subject: RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35
From: (Mel Prussack)
Date: 1997/02/03

The story as I recall it was that during the recording of this number two females came into the studio that were either a friend or relative of one of the band members. It was pouring rain outside and the ages of the girls were 12 and 35.

Mel Prussack -
Curator of The Dylan Shrine

Subject: RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35
From: (Kaliph Hayes )
Date: 1997/02/03

I don't know about the "Rainy Day Women" part, but 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420, which is the well-known time to light up a joint, or so I hear from my friends. But everyone's probably heard this already.


From: timosahe (
Subject: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 question
Date: 05 May 1998

Can anybody here tell me why exactly Dylan placed these two seemingly random numbers on the title of this song?
That's pretty obvious: 12 = 5 + 7 and 35 = 5 x 7
Five is the number of Jesus and seven is the number of the

From: (Dave Palmer)
Subject: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 question
Date: Sat, 9 May 1998 03:36:30 GMT

I always thought the term was "fair weather friends," because they're your friends in fair weather but on rainy days they're nowhere to be found.

In Waylon Jennings' song "Rainy Day Woman," the rainy day woman is kind of like an alternate woman for days when the regularly-scheduled woman is being too much of a bitch to deal with:

That woman of mine, she ain't happy
Until she finds something wrong and someone to blame
If it ain't one thing, it's another one on the way
Woke up this morning to the sunshine
Sure as hell looks just like rain
I know where to go on a cloudy day
Oh, rainy day woman
I never seem to see you for the good times or the sunshine
You have been a friend of mine, rainy day woman

Waylon's song came out several years after Dylan's song. I don't know if there are any earlier country-western songs which use this meaning of "rainy day woman" that Dylan might have heard, though. (Any Roy Acuff scholars out there?) Since Waylon is friends with Willie Nelson, who is the Cheech Marin of country and western music, he might have heard Dylan's song a time or two, but the only thing which seems very similar is the title.


From: "dh" (
Subject: Rainy Day Women # 12 and 35
Date: 25 May 1998

["dh" ( originally wrote:]

They relate to the first time Dylan had sex (at age 12) and the last time he had sex before he wrote the song (when he was 35). It happened to be raining both times.

why not? 8)

[Somebody challenged this theory:]

Because he wasn't 35 yet when he wrote it. Other than that, good theory.

["dh" ( replied:]

Sure, everyone knows he wrote it in '66 and was only 25, but he was "so much older then..." thus the reference to 35.

Don 8)

From: (John Howells)
Subject: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 question
Date: 5 May 1998

My opinion: the title means absolutely nothing. It's just some nonsense he thought up on the spur of the moment, like "Alcatraz to the 9th Power". That's just the way his mind works.


John Howells

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