California by Bob Dylan. An alternative to Outlaw Blues

by Tony Attwood

I have no idea how many 12 bar blues Dylan has written in his career but I think there are quite a few of them.  Some are memorable and some are, well, not so memorable.

“California” was written and recorded on or around 13 January 1965 along with or roundabout the time of such songs as Outlaw Blues (which shares the same format but is not the same song), Love Minus Zero, Subterranean Homesick Blues, She Belongs to Me etc etc. For me, personally it falls into the less than completely memorable category.

There is only one recording available on the internet but it appears from two sources so I have listed both in case one of them becomes unavailable.  Here is the first.

It turned up on NCIS: The Official TV Soundtrack – Vol. 2 compilation on November 3rd.   It is said in publicity blurb that “The track has been freshly mixed and mastered for this release, and on the same day the soundtrack hits stores, the song will also be featured on an episode of NCIS.”  So I am not sure if we are listening to an original here or the remixed version.

Also apparently “Things Have Changed, also appeared on NCIS and the first volume of its soundtrack.

And another source in case the first one goes down…

 

According to Clinton Heylonboth “California” and “Outlaw Blues” were recorded on the same day, but that is not to say that they are the same song or that “California” is an early version of “Outlaw” or indeed the other way around..

Originally considered a early version of “Outlaw Blues,” “California” itself was in fact a piano-driven number that Dylan ended up scrapping, but not before lending one of its verses to “Outlaw Blues.”

Here are the lyrics…

I’m goin’ down south
’Neath the borderline
I’m goin’ down south
’Neath the borderline
Some fat momma
Kissed my mouth one time

Well, I needed it this morning
Without a shadow of doubt
Well, I needed it this morning
Without a shadow of doubt
My suitcase is packed
My clothes are hangin’ out

 

San Francisco’s fine
You sure get lots of sun
San Francisco is fine
You sure get lots of sun
But I’m used to four seasons
California’s got but one

The last verse written for this song was then moved over to Outlaw Blues

Well, I got my dark sunglasses
I got for good luck my black tooth
I got my dark sunglasses
And for good luck I got my black tooth
Don’t ask me nothin’ about nothin’
I just might tell you the truth

Also another verse written down but not recorded

I paid 15 cents
didn’t care if I
was right or wrong
I paid 15 cents didn’t care if I
was right or wrong
Then I saddled up a nightmare rode her all night long

 

And at that point I think I shall leave it.

What else is on the site

1: Over 470 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

 

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2 Responses to California by Bob Dylan. An alternative to Outlaw Blues

  1. Larry Fyffe says:

    First track on 1971 vinyl bootleg (Trade Mark Of Quality)
    entitled “Seems Like A Freezeout” is ‘California’

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