What kind of friend is this? Bob Dylan in the hotel room having fun

By Tony Attwood

The idea for this song’s title could have come from, “What kind of man is this” by Koko Taylor.  Although the feel of the songs is different in each case, they are both 12 bar blues, and it is quite possible Dylan either deliberately or through a half-buried memory, returned to the title for this highly enjoyable improvised piece.

What Dylan does is give the 12 bar format a real bounce and some real light energy – and it is once of those songs I really wish he had been able to finish off and deliver in a recording studio, while keeping the wonderful lighthearted bounce.   It is the sort of song most songwriters would have been proud of, cherished and most certainly put on an album – and played at the gigs.

We have the one recording from the hotel room, of which the first 30 seconds (after whatever advert is served up to you) is a false start.

The lyrics which follow are based as ever on the work of Eyolf Østrem – I have added a couple of elements of my own, but those are probably going to be the ones that are totally wrong in everyone else’s opinion!

But the point about the words here, as in other rough drafts of song, is that they are an approximation.  Bob seems to have some idea of the song’s lyrics in his head, but the others are made up as they go along.

It was around this time that Dylan did an interview saying that the songs he didn’t get to record were just forgotten since he didn’t keep notes.  It is such a shame that he didn’t keep notes of this one because it could not only have become not just a great album song, as I have suggested, but a wonderful song to sing part way through a concert before he got back to the songs we all know.

Starting at 30 seconds into the recording.

Tell me What kind of friend is this?
What kind of friend is this?
Who loves me behind my back
What kind of friend is this
Shows up every place I've been
She act kind of 'lone
but she don't
She making a loan
But you know she won't
She so languid in the morning
And she's making it on my bed
Aw, what kind of friend is this?

What kind of friend is this?
What kind of friend is this?
makin' [...]
What kind of friend is this?
Losing up anything
Back off, boy
When she goes down
[Lay down laid]
She's walking around
Well, she ain't got nothin'
but she's teedle toodle tummin' on a
pack of beans
Tell me what kind of friend is this?

Well she [don't lean if she don't man]
You know she's gonna be her dog.
She [done gone], She no whore
Heart stopped a-beating and she [...]

Well, what kind of friend is this
make me holler to and fro
who wants to go everywhere I wanna go
Back off, she
don't care for me
[...] own lady
if she could only see
I'd give her everything
If she comes back along to this 
Tell me what kind of friend is this?

What else is on the site

1: Over 480 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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