“All you have to do is dream”. Bob Dylan gets a bit skittish.

By Tony Attwood

The first thing to say is that this is not a review of “All I have to do is dream” which was written by Boudleaux Bryant  and recorded by the Everly Brothers.  But just because it is out there here is a recording of Bob singing that song.

But now to move on to the song Bob did write: “All you have to do is dream” which turns up on Bootleg 11 and which vimeo has on line (at least at the moment).  Strange thing with that song is if I try and copy the link and put it here it comes up with the “not available” sign, but if I click on the link in Google, it plays.

Failing that you can also try Deezer: http://www.deezer.com/en/track/92722860

Musically it is a bouncy rhythm playing around the simple sequence of G, Am, Bm, Am and back to G with a C, Am variation later on.

As for what it is all about, Robert MacMillan, the writer of Haiku 61 Revisited gives a pretty good summary:

Bob invites his girl
To love him in his farmhouse
And to blow his horn.
It’s true, that’s how it really went down. This song appears twice in the Basement Tapes bootleg series. It’s a sweet song, one of those domestic bliss snippets that Dylan was so good at tossing off while married to Sara Lownds. Still, many Basement Tapes lyrics sound or feel better than they appear. Some don’t make a whole lot of sense. I took my cue from this verse of the first version of the song and the 11-year-old boy who lives in my head.

In many regards the writer is perfectly correct – the lyrics sound AND feel better than they appear.  Take a look at the opening..,

If the farmer has no silo
And his fuel cost runs up high
Well, that’s just how much I would love you
If you’d just only let me try.

It’s clear however what he is talking about throughout…

Yes, but look what an earful I get and it’s all awful too
Every time I try to go get me a little tickle.

And it doesn’t take him too long to get down to basics.

So poor little girl, come blow this horn
Hard as any whole night seems
It’s very easily done actually
All you have to do is dream.

If it is what turns you on, all well and good. I have to say it doesn’t do much for me.

A complete list of Dylan’s songs of the 1960s including all the Basement Tape songs, with links to the songs reviewed thus far, can be found on Dylan Songs of the 60s.

What else 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




  1. The first verse is nonsense evoking pure irrational sense, and fits the pattern of the basement tapes… The desperation of the farmer is coupled with the desire of the singer, and the pastoral images (floorbirds? yeah floorbirds that grin) build up to the climax. Once again Dylan deepens a love song here and mocks it in the same time… who would have had the genius to come up with this? Well, that it sounds good is already enough, but it is smart too, like a WC Fields absurd remark.

  2. And the moment he turned his eye to serious but simple lovesongs, as on Nashville Skyline, he would lose his muse for a long time. And though regaining that muse off and on, occasionally, through all his career, he would write some stupid ones with too much sense and no humor or brilliance at all, just in search of the honesty which the basement tapes had plenty of, yet with a mask. Everytime he wanted to throw that off, he failed mostly (Feel my Love for example is an exception to me, a true one for the songbook).

  3. Yes this song is goofy and makes no sense but I do like the little piano jingle going on in this tune.

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