Ballad in Plain D is the tenth track of Bob Dylan's fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, and—at eight minutes, eighteen seconds—the longest song on the album. The song recounts the circumstances surrounding the disintegration of Dylan's relationship with Suze Rotolo. Dylan details the conflicts between himself, and Rotolo's mother, Mary Rotolo, and her sister Carla Rotolo. Critic Andy Gill writes that, in this song, Dylan clumsily idealises Suze Rotolo, while "viciously characterizing Carla as a pretentious, social-climbing parasite".
The song relates how tension between Dylan and Suze Rotolo came to a head in the last week of March 1964 with a violent argument, in which Dylan and sister Carla shouted abuse at each other. "Beneath a bare lightbulb the plaster did pound/ Her sister and I in a screaming battleground/ And she in between, the victim of sound/ Soon shattered as a child ’neath her shadows."
Andy Gill writes that "Ballad in Plain D" is one of Dylan's "least satisfying" songs because it fails to amount to anything more than a "self-pitying, one-sided account of the final traumatic night of Dylan's long-standing romance with Suze Rotolo". Gill contrasts Dylan's...