By Tony Attwood
According to the official Bob Dylan site this song was written by H. Thomas and Bob Dylan – which is interesting, because as we have noted, a lot of Bob’s songs take elements of other people’s work and re-imagines the song without crediting the original.
But in this case I suspect that if you heard the original you wouldn’t link it to Dylan’s song, at least not until you hear the phrase “Honey just allow me one more chance.”
The earliest use of the song goes right back to Harry Thomas in 1927 (or Henry “Ragtime Texas” Thomas as I have seen him referred to). Fortunately we still have that recording available, but first here is an early version of Bob’s song.
And now here is the original – the quality is rather poor but that is not surprising given the date of the recording. Also, for reasons I will explain below, I do hope you will persevere with playing this, rather than thinking that I have put up the wrong link (which I am perfectly capable of doing).
If you have just played the link immediately above you probably did spend the first minute thinking I had put up the wrong link, despite my protestations above. But the phrase is there in the chorus and the rhyming structure is the same, as is the rhythm, but otherwise it turns into a completely new song.
I understand there is also a Flatt and Scruggs version of the song recorded in 1970 – unfortunately I can’t find a copy on line.
According to the official site, Dylan performed the song three times across 1962 and 1963 and that was that.
The lyrics do give an early look at Bob’s interest in trains
Honey, just allow me one more chance
To ride your aeroplane
Honey, just allow me one more chance
To ride your passenger train
Well, I’ve been lookin’ all over
For a gal like you
I can’t find nobody
So you’ll have to do
Just-a one kind favor I ask you
’Low me just-a one more chance
And that brings us up to date except for this this from 1970…
Musically the song changes a little but in essence remains pretty much the same as a number of “folk” songs in terms of its structure. What’s noticeable is that although the song is clearly in G, in the second phrase it modulates to D, but then directly returns to to G.
G C G
G A7 D
G G7 C A7
G D G C G D G
Even if you don’t know anything at all about chord structures if you hear these chords together you’ll recognise just how many songs are based around this type of structure.
The song appeared as the penultimate track on Freewheelin. It was followed by the jokey “I shall be free” with the album being released in May 1963. As such it is a fine way of reminding us of Dylan’s interest in and knowledge of folk music from around the world. On an album that contains such classics as Blowin’ in the Wind and such polemics as Masters of War along with the classic blues in Down the Highway and the utterly contemporary concerns of A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall and Oxford Town, it is a reminder of Dylan’s wider interests in the music of the past.
Indeed it has also always struck me as fascinating that it comes one track after Corrina Corrina, a love song of such a totally different type. He really was showing us all he could do, and would yet come to do.
What else is on the site
1: Over 450 reviews of Dylan songs. There is an index to these in alphabetical order at the foot of 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. A second index lists the articles under the poets and poetic themes cited – you can find that 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.
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.