Bob Dylan’s “Odds and Ends”

By Tony Attwood

Odds and Ends is a curiosity – a straight forward 12 bar blues with Dylan half singing half speaking the lyrics – which include references to orange juice.  And such references I guess could be a reference to the much more refined and prepared song from the Band “Orange juice blues”.

But this is not to say that “Odds and Ends” is just an improvised piece – at least it doesn’t sound like it with the harmonies at the end – although these could be the result of overdubbing later I guess.   However I do think Dylan had written out the lyrics, but I am not at all sure they tell us anything or take us anywhere in particular.

The chorus of the opening song—”Odds and ends, odds and ends/Lost time is not found again”—functions as “a kind of editorial comment on the entire Basement Tapes“, according to Andy Gill, but I suspect Dylan was just larking around, writing lines that sound as if they mean something but really don’t.   I think it is just one of those phrases that sounds good, but really doesn’t have too much to, in the final analysis.

There is quite a debate as to when the song was written and recorded – emphasising that the chronology at this point could be some way out in relation to what song came after which.

Whether Dylan really is saying that he has had enough of all this recording lark in the final verse is, I think open to a spot of interpretation.  After all the final verse

Now, I’ve had enough, my box is clean
You know what I’m sayin’ and you know what I mean
From now on you’d best get on someone else
While you’re doin’ it, keep that juice to yourself

might be as meaningless as the second verse

Now, you take your file and you bend my head
I never can remember anything that you said

Just as there is no special interest taken in the music – it is after all just another 12 bar blues without a melody – so I am not sure we should take any special interest in the words.

On my list I have put “Odds and Ends” at this point in the sequence of writing/recording:

but Heylin raises the question that this tape was actually recorded after the John Wesley Hardin sessions, which means any significance that I might try to draw from the order of writing at this point ought to be set aside.

It’s on the list, and reviewed, because I’ve set the task of reviewing all the songs – but in honesty I am not sure this one adds to much to the sum of human understanding.

What is on the site

1: Over 400 reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order on the home page and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.

2: The Chronology.  We’ve taken all the songs we can find recordings of and put them in the order they were written (as far as possible) not in the order they appeared on albums.  The chronology is more or less complete and is now linked to all the reviews on the site.  We have also recently started to produce overviews of Dylan’s work year by year.     The index to the chronologies is here.

3: Bob Dylan’s themes.  We publish a wide range of articles about Bob Dylan and his compositions.  There is an index here.

4:   The Discussion Group    We now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

5:  Bob Dylan’s creativity.   We’re fascinated in taking the study of Dylan’s creative approach further.  The index is in Dylan’s Creativity.

6: You might also like: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews.

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2 Responses to Bob Dylan’s “Odds and Ends”

  1. Ron Loftus says:

    Tony,
    I always thought “Odds and Ends” was stimulated by the presence of little kids running around with their juice bottles, hopping from adult lap to adult lap. Spilling juice every wherever they go…like they got some place to go. It’s funny. Hilarious, even. Kids do offer us hope…but then what do they do? They just spill juice over us. Oh, well.

    But the chorus, “Lost time is not found again,” is actually quite deep. Kids can do that to you. Toddlers live in the moment. We do not. We cannot get each moment that passes back. We could learn a lot from little children. The Zen Masters understood that.

  2. Phil Wright. says:

    I actually think that these lyrics adress Dylans dissatisfaction with his contract with Albert Grossman, his manager, and refer to a chemical dependency encouraged and facilitated by Grossman. Many Basement Tapes era lyrics express a deep unhappiness with Dylans previous state of existence as a manipulated protege of a domineering and exploitative, both psychically and financially, manager, and a strong desire to move forward to a state of personal independence. ” I Shall Be Released” indeed.

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