“Apple Suckling Tree”: Bob Dylan revisits Froggie – not for the first time.

By Tony Attwood

Last time I wrote about two versions of the same song appearing on different bootleg albums I got myself into a right old tangle and after readers had kindly put me out of my misery, had to go back and correct my ramblings.

So I approach this with uncertainty.  We have this song issued on the original Basement Tapes double LP and then again on Bootleg Vol 11 where it is called the “Restored Version”.   The lyrics on both appear to me NOT to be the lyrics on the official Bob Dylan site where the Volume 11 of the Bootleg series is listed twice, once as “Alternative Version” and once as “Alternative Take”.

There’s no point my reproducing the lyrics from the official website since they are not on either of the two versions I have got.

The version I have got on the double album and the Volume XI has got the lines that Heylin transcribes as

“Aloysius was sold at seven years old un-huh
Aloysius was sold at seven years old un-huh
If I die, bury me in the ground
I’ll catch you man by the hare and hound
or words to that effect.”

So I am thinking that the lyrics on the Bob.Dylan.com site come from what Heylin describes as “barely a run through” and what we have each time is the second take.  So quite why this is a restored version I don’t really know.  I guess that could mean that they have done a spot of engineering on it.

Or not – because there is also a debate as to who was the drummer and how good he is.  To me, and maybe I am getting past it in my old age, the drummer sounds ok, given that the piece is just running through with very little rehearsal.  So I am guessing that both times we have been given take two while the web site offers us the lyrics of take one.

If you can sort this out just write in and tell me, and let me admit before you do, I just don’t know.

What I do know is that the song came originally from the same sources as Baby wont you be my baby  which Bob probably wrote a few weeks earlier, and the sources of which through the last century I traced in the review of that song.  “Baby won’t you” takes the whole thing a lot slower, but “Apple Suckling” takes it back to the speed that we are used to hearing it at.

What I didn’t mention with that song is that the ultimate antecedent is “Froggie went a courting” which Bob himself recorded on “Good as I been to you” and which first appeared in the 16th century in Scotland.

Here is Tex Ritter singing it

Bob’s version of course is on Spotify.

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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