“All over you”: Bob Dylan tries to escape the talking blues.

by Tony Attwood

“It’s sort of a mad song,” said Bob Dylan as he attempted to overcome a cough, tune the guitar and keep the audience happy in the live version we have of “All over you.”   It is a fun if a rather chaotic version.

On the other hand the version on the Whitmark Demo album is much more organised, and it loses most of the chaos, and somehow with that loses part of the fun.  But still, that’s what recording studios do to you.  If you don’t have that album you can find it on Spotify.

Bob’s original introduction in the live version, “A 1930s rag time tune I just wrote last week,” gives a feeling for what he was doing and feeling in March 1963, and the impression we get is that he had travelled a long way away from the plaintive worlds of “Boots of Spanish Leather” and “Bob Dylan’s Dream” and just wanted to do other stuff.

And what he wanted here, I guess, was to be skittish, just to show that he could.  And indeed he certainly could.  But, (another guess) I think he had started to think he had taken the talking blues about as far as it could go.   He had after all just written “Talkin Devil” which was his sixth such song.

Bob hadn’t completely finished with the talking blues of course – he had at least two more to work on, and “I Shall be Free Number 10” was about a year away, but still, one could have too much of a good thing.

Below, are the lyrics of the first two verses taken from the official site – they differ a little from the live recording.  But these first two verses give a pretty clear indication of what’s going on – you can dig out the remaining two verses from the official Dylan site if you really want the whole thing.

Well, if I had to do it all over again
Babe, I’d do it all over you
And if I had to wait for ten thousand years
Babe, I’d even do that too
Well, a dog’s got his bone in the alley
A cat, she’s got nine lives
A millionaire’s got a million dollars
King Saud’s got four hundred wives
Well, ev’rybody’s got somethin’
That they’re lookin’ forward to
I’m lookin’ forward to when I can do it all again
And babe, I’ll do it all over you

Well, if I had my way tomorrow or today
Babe, I’d run circles all around
I’d jump up in the wind, do a somersault and spin
I’d even dance a jig on the ground
Well, everybody gets their hour
Everybody gets their time
Little David when he picked up his pebbles
Even Sampson after he went blind
Well, everybody gets the chance
To do what they want to do
When my time arrives you better run for your life
’Cause babe, I’ll do it all over you

And here is the live version.  It is, as Bob says in his intro, “A sort of a mad song”

There is an alternative version by The McCoys although I am not too sure what else that adds, and indeed for me it seems to take something away from Dylan’s version.

But most importantly I think this song shows just how much Dylan wanted to experiment and not get trapped into certain forms of writing.  He had all these songs bubbling up inside him, and just because Freewheelin had certain types of music, that was not going to slow him down.

If we just look at the songs that Dylan had written (roughly in the order they were written) from “Don’t think twice” through to this song we can see what a wide ranging journey he was travelling…

  1. Don’t think twice (Song of Leaving)
  2. Mixed up confusion (Rock n roller is confused)
  3. I’d hate to be you on that dreadful day (Bob gets the ship ready to come in)
  4. Paths of Victory. (The future will be fine)
  5. Train A Travellin’  (Stand up and protest about what’s going on around you)
  6. Walking Down the Line
  7. Ye Playboys and Playgirls  (Stand up and change the world)
  8. Oxford Town (Racism Protest)
  9. I shall be free (comic talking blues)
  10. Kingsport Town (lost love, moving on)
  11. Hero Blues (the woman who thinks her man should be perfect)
  12. Whatcha Gonna Do?  (gentle blues; repent before you die)
  13. Masters of War (War protest)
  14. Girl from the North Country (Lost Love)Boots of Spanish Leather (Song of Leaving)
  15. Bob Dylan’s Dream (Lost love)
  16. Farewell (a song of leaving)
  17. Talkin Devil (talking blues, the Devil is real)
  18. All over you

It is one hell of a range.  “Look,” says Bob, “I can write about anything.”  And yes, he certainly could.

What else is on the site

1: Over 460 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 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 produced 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 our articles on various writers’ lists of Dylan’s ten greatest songs.

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. What a lovely love-song ! Thanks for this very early Dylan number that matured over the years to The Wedding Song ( Planet Waves ).

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