Don’t tell him. One of Bob Dylan’s “ten a penny” songs.

By Tony Attwood

Not for the first time I found myself a bit confused.  According to adverts this song appears on “Bob Dylan The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966: The Bootleg Series Vol.12: Collector’s Edition” but I can’t find a complete song listing for this which includes this track on Dylan’s official site.

There is a page on the official Dylan site for this site titled “Bob Dylan the complete track listing” which is actually blank.  It comes up on a Wiki search

Bob Dylan The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966: The Bootleg Series Vol.12 …

There is another page which purports to have the full track listing but doesn’t include this song.   However the discogs site does have it and there it is on disc 18 track 18 so I am sure that is right and it is the official site that is getting tangled up in songs.   If they read this and notice and sort it out, I’m sure they’ll also want to drop me a note and say thank you for pointing the blank page out.

But since I am sitting here writing these reviews in my retirement when money flows not quite as freely as it did in my earlier days, I am not that moved to splash out lots and lots of the readies on buying this album specifically to get this track so I’m working for the version available on line.

But if you have the album, and this song is indeed on it, and it is a different version from that offered below, please do write in and say and then, please do write a review which we can publish here.  (And even if not, if you want to write an alternative review, please do get in touch – see below).

Anyway, below is a link to this song on the internet.  It is a ramble, with disconnected largely unintelligible (to me at least) lyrics, and most certainly very unfinished, but as is the way with Bob it includes some delightful moments which if turned into a song could well have given us something of another gem.

The first 40 seconds involve the two guys discussing the chord sequence and I think Bob is explaining a part which goes from B minor to E, but moving on from there we get a nice run through of a proto-song for which much of the music is worked out, but the lyrics very unclear.

At 2 minutes we get another run through.  But there is no way I am going to make an absolute prat of myself attempting to make anything of the lyrics that follow.

At 3 minutes 10 seconds we get another burst at it which shows the song really beginning to come together.

Clearly in this process if Bob had continued with the song he would later have sat down with the notebook and maybe later the typewriter and set out the lyrics which would have changed over and over, in order to fit with the music – which would have evolved a little bit further.

As such there is a real value in this recording, since it does give a good insight into Bob Dylan’s approach to writing at this point.  It doesn’t mean this is typical, or that he stayed with this method through the years, but it suggests that around 1966 this was his way forward.

It becomes an enjoyable prototype by the end, and you never know, it could have gone on to be a delightful light piece.  All that happened was that Bob lost interest and moved on.  For in those days new songs from his lips and fingers were ten a penny.

If you have a spare five minutes, and haven’t heard the piece before, do give it a listen.

Think there’s something missing or wrong with this review?

You are of course always welcome to write a comment below, but if you’d like to go further, you could write an alternative review – we’ve already published quite a few of these.  We try to avoid publishing reviews and comments that are rude or just criticisms of what is written elsewhere – but if you have a positive take on this song or any other Dylan song, and would like it considered for publication, please do email Tony@schools.co.uk

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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1 Response to Don’t tell him. One of Bob Dylan’s “ten a penny” songs.

  1. Jamie says:

    Def hearing a little/a lot Sad Eyed Lady at certain times which could be a reason he never saw this one to the end.

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