To fall in love with you. The greatest of all the lost Dylan masterpieces.

By Tony Attwood

I have alluded to the fact a few times that I was trained as a musician before turning to being a writer, and in the time of moving from one to the other I did work for a few years as a theatre musician.   During that time I wrote a fair amount of music for theatrical productions, as well as for the rock bands I played in.  Indeed I have continued to write songs for most of my life, although mostly for my own enjoyment and as a way of telling my friends it is time to go at the end of the evening.

I say all this to stress two things – one I do know what it is like to write songs, and two, I make no claims to being a professional.  And all this is relevant here, because both during my theatre years (when the shout did sometimes arise, “Tony can you write a song to go here,” led to me sometimes writing very quickly to order) and subsequently (when I have as long as I want) I have written songs.

And in all this process I have often done sessions either on my own or with fellow performers just jamming around ideas and sequences – which occasionally turn into songs.  Of course at the start one only has a collection of phrases and attempts at rhyme, but with a fair wind the chord sequence can work and the melody can flow over it.  And a few words stick.

This process is a thoroughly valid one for writing a song – and this is where I get back to Dylan, because it is a technique he obviously has used on occasion.  And I can only take it to be ignorance of the varied creative techniques used by many people when writing songs that leads Heylin seemingly to call the process a “half-assed project”.  It is not the only way of composing of course, but it is one, and it can work.  Sometimes no, sometimes yes; but that is how it goes with most creative people much of the time.

You can’t turn a tap and have a work of genius pop out – at least not all the time.  The measure of genius is not that every item produced is a work of sheer brilliance, but that quite a few of them are.  Even the greatest genius has off days.

For Dylan, that day he toyed with “To fall in love with you” was most certain not an “off day”.  This is a beautiful song, and it is wonderful indeed that we have a copy of the recording.  The lyrics are only partially formed but the chord sequence and the melody is there, and above everything else, Dylan clearly believes in where he is going.  If it had ever been finished it would have been considered one of the masterpieces, of that I am certain.

What is particularly interesting is that it is an 18 bar song, which is extremely unusual, and this makes me think that the recording I’ve linked to above is not a “join in when you are ready” type, but one that had already been rehearsed, or at least has the sequence written down.

I also feel this because the chord sequence is unique among Dylan’s work – much more complex than he normally works with and using a very different approach.

The song is in B, which is very unusual for a start, and if you have ever played a guitar or keyboard you’ll know how unusual this sequence is…

F#  E  F#  E  F#  G#m  F#  E  F#  E  F# G#m  F#  E  B  F#  G#m F#  B  F# G#m F# E F# B.

Even if all that is gibberish to you (and there is no reason why it should other than that) I would like to point out two things.  One is the the home chord of the whole song – B – doesn’t turn up until we are over half way through a verse.  The other is that this is written by a guy whose favourite guitar sequence for an entire song is

E  A  E   B7 A  E

So it is an unusual length with a very unusual chord structure, and yet the guys playing the accompaniment on the version we have really know what’s what – so they must have rehearsed or at the very very least had some musical instructions in front of them.

And although it is true that many of the words are mumbled – and my version below is just picking up what I can hear, and using suggestions from elsewhere, there are a lot of beautiful and exciting ideas and expressions of emotion here.  I am sure you’ll want to change some of my text, especially given that I am listening with English not American ears and brain but even my poor rendition made in consultation with the work of the much more skillful listener Eyolf Østrem manages to capture something of it, I think.

Who knows where this song could have gone – and who knows why Dylan didn’t complete it especially at a time when it seems good ideas were hard to come by?  But at least we have this tantalising sketch to keep forever.

If you just read the lyrics below it is interesting to see how almost every half line could lead us into a whole new song… indeed this is part of the great interest in this piece because not only is the music so interesting, but so are the lyrics.  There are something like fifty take off points within this piece, each of which could create a new song.

In fact it is reminiscent of the comment made in the early days when he once said that he thought the world might not last much longer so he put all the song titles he had into one song.  It is like finding a sketch book of a great visual artist containing pen and ink outlines of fifty great works he never undertook.  It is like opening the door of Dylan’s creative mind, and seeing all the possibilities laid out before us.

It is the sketch of a song with as much power and imagination as It’s Alright Ma, but with love, regret and doubt as the contexts.

It is tantalising, and brilliant both for itself, and for the consideration of why he never finished it.

I see it in your lips I knew it in your eyes

How simple and how magnificent is that.

A tear goes down my day is real
but your drying eye upon the shame
Each needs a road for me from you
what paradise? what can I do?
That die for my and the day is dark
I can’t believe for your touch
What I could find oh time is right
If I fell in love to fall in love
To fall in love with you

The day is dark, our time is right
day in the night deep in the night
I can’t yet be back I heard my- surprise
I see it in your lips I knew it in your eyes
Well I feel your love and I feel no shame
I can’t unleash your horde I call your name
What you’re to me what can I do?
To fall in love to fall in love
To fall in love with you

It just rolls upon the sand
ever this for now I’m made a man
can make you see what I can find
I know it in my days ah in my daily mind
Oh will ages roll will ages fly?
I hear your name where angels lie.
What do I know? for to come it’s true
To fall in love To fall in love
To fall in love with you

How can the doors trust on a nail?
how can I be surprised of most every day?
In the distant road I can’t be the same
I feel no love I feel no shame
I can’t watch the bay out on my own
we’ve a destined man I can attest it all
I didn’t I could find where I could go
To fall in love to fall in love
To fall in love with you

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9 Responses to To fall in love with you. The greatest of all the lost Dylan masterpieces.

  1. Louis says:

    Tony, Maybe I can help you out with this; I’ll let you know. I am in awe of your study. The art that flows from the song was easy. The math that flows from your pen is another kind of genius, the kind that seldom gets stars. You have five gold stars from me, for sure.

    It will never happen, but if I had the chance, it would be an honor to meet you.

    Thank you for sharing your time and talent.

  2. TonyAttwood says:

    Louis, I am overwhelmed. And although I feel that if we met you would be disappointed because I am just a regular guy, I have on occasion met up with readers from the site as I travel around.

  3. hans altena says:

    Somehow I missed this post, and certainly I even never heard this song before, and it baffles me just like you why he never finished it. It reminds me of the also unfinished Who Loves You More, which is a more simple blues based song but also with a hint of genius, and it bears resemblance with the discarded Angelina, not so much in chords but in feeling. It is as if he was afraid to deal with this kind of deep inspiration and vulnerabilty. Surely he was more into great original melodies those days, but his fixation with staying up to date with the eighties sank many a good idea. Look at the great album Tempest, his poetry on fire again, yet lacking something like this ‘adventurousness’.

  4. rich whalen says:

    not to quibble but “greatest” cannot be used to describe this unless you no longer consider Im not there “Lost”

  5. joe says:

    Can you tell me when this song was written?

  6. jerry fisher says:

    Thanks for bringing this wonderful gem to life. I think your take on the lyrics are very close and not to quibble with. As a musician, my take is that Dylan might have used the piano to write this song as the chords favor the “black notes” chording he uses on that instrument. The band holds back on the first verse to get a sense of the song (except for the bass who appears to make some mis-steps in the first verse). So this could certainly be a first run thru. My understanding is that Dylan doesn’t spell out chords in his recording sessions.

  7. Russell Fox says:

    Yes, have to agree. That’s the best of the early work that hasn’t come out. It’s lovely.

  8. TonyAttwood says:

    Joe “To fall in love” was the last song Dylan wrote in 1986. You can see the order of writing in the file on Dylan’s writing in the 1980s.

  9. Shyam Sunder G says:

    Hi Tony,

    I guess the most profound line in your writing is “If it had ever been finished it would have been considered one of the masterpieces, of that I am certain.” I definitely agree with you! And since you remarked that this song has a lot of “take-off” lines, as in, it can give birth to a plethora of songs, I decided to write one. I hope you wouldn’t mind if I posted it here. If it is inappropriate, I wouldn’t mind if you removed it.

    Thanks & Cheers,

    For Your Love
    A leaf falls down,
    in the autumn light,
    my day has run,
    to another night,
    moon on the rise,
    in the evening wind,
    but your eyes,
    has got me sinned,
    my heart has sank,
    in your smiles,
    I’ll swim to your hand,
    a million miles,
    where should I go,
    what can I do,
    to have your love,
    to have your love,
    to have your love,
    what can I do?

    A lone soldier,
    stranded on a field,
    there is a tear,
    that’s got me kneeled,
    I’ll be going home,
    down the dusky road,
    my mind would roam,
    your dream would flow,
    but I wish I knew,
    wish I had the key,
    to your heart so true,
    where could it be,
    where should I go,
    what can I do,
    to have your love,
    to have your love,
    to have your love,
    what can I do?

    There is no rose,
    without a thorn,
    in time I’d know,
    if your flame would burn,
    but what could fall,
    to keep this in me,
    I’ll forsake it all,
    it’s plain to see,
    cause I hear your name,
    in the autumn winds,
    I feel no shame,
    you drove me to this,
    where should I go,
    what can I do,
    to have your love,
    to have your love,
    to have your love,
    what can I do?


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