“Patty’s gone to Laredo”: The torment Bob Dylan gives us poor fans

By Tony Attwood

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

I had so carefully put the torment that Patty’s Gone to Laredo brings, right out of my mind for years and years until Larry mentioned it in his article Saith Dylan: ‘By A Forked Tongue, Be Not Enticed’  and it all came back to me and I just HAD to go and listen to it again.

And the torment returned.

For this song sounds like an absolute winner, a brilliant piece of Dylan, one of the great lost works that would be on my ever growing CD of all the brilliant songs Bob thought never to let us have on an album.

But…. it is so mished and mashed and mucked about with by putting a sound track over the top of people chatting that it makes huge demands on the imagination to make out what it was all about.

Yes, that soundtrack does make the song ever more poignant because the singer is bemoaning the sadness of his life (I think) while the audience couldn’t give a damn and are just chatting among themselves.

OK I get that.  But I also want the song.  I want a pure, clear and clean copy.  So please would one of the people who are a little bit close to Bob and who occasionally do me the absolute kindness of getting in touch off the record with a comment about something on the site, just phone Bob (at an appropriate time of course – I don’t want him disturbed while he’s composing or rehearsing or playing with the grandkids) and say “that old bloke in England who does all these reviews and is a big fan has asked if you could spare five minutes to lay down a version of “Patty’s gone” and send it to him with a set of lyrics, so he can do a proper review…”

In the meantime, and back in the real world, Heylin tells us, “This could well be the long-rumoured song he allegedly wrote about Patty Hearst in 1975. It was included in Dylan’s cinematic folly Renaldo & Clara (1978), but otherwise left unused.”

So he didn’t find out anything either.  But now I’ve been forced to remember it and start pining for it, there is a link below.  I am certainly not going to risk transcribing the words, but if you would like to, please be my guest.

The film, as you probably will know, is a deliberate mix of three separate film types all at once, with clips from the Rolling Thunder Revue. There is also the film of Ruben Carter (the Hurricane) and has Bob Dylan playing Renaldo and his wife of the time Sara playing Clara with Ronnie Hawkins playing Bob Dylan.  We get the Jack Kerouac (of On the Road) grave, Allen Ginsberg and others.  All the stuff that goes into Bob’s past.

The origins of it all is Les Enfants du Paradis which is considered by many aficionados of French movies (and by and large by the French) as the best film of all time.

So it is a torment.  I am not saying that it would be the best Dylan song of all time if we could hear it properly, but I suspect it would be on the album of total and utter gems from Dylan, if we had a proper recording of it.  And I am not saying rush out and watch Les Enfants du Paradis if you are not familiar with post war black and white movies from France, because if that era of film making does happen to be your cup of tea, as it was in mine in younger days, you probably know it already.

But maybe that’s the point.

Oh Bob.  You certainly know how to torment us.

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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4 Responses to “Patty’s gone to Laredo”: The torment Bob Dylan gives us poor fans

  1. Kingsley Bray says:

    musically it’s the Tex-Mex sound that he begins to play around with after his stint in Durango making ‘Pat Garret & Billy the Kid’. See also ‘Romance in Durango’, especially those tight live renditions from Rolling Thunder with dramatic hand percussion. Melodically it even sounds related to the two later tunes, ‘Red River Shore’ (1997) and ‘This Dream of You’ (2009) which explore that sound world more fully. ‘Red River Shore’ may be the most accomplished and poetic lyric in this batch, but for my money ‘This Dream of You’ totally nails the music. Perfection.

  2. Paul Marino says:

    Hey Tony… it sounds to me that Bob is one of the people chatting in the background. I wonder who he was talking to!

  3. alfredo barreiro says:

    I had to write subtitles for my friends 0on a copy of R&C and this is my transcription of Patty’s Gone To Laredo. Any suggestions?

    …always in a… how low?||
    then it’s only anything in a wedding\~fire an’ all that, that’s been so nice||
    but I know it’s still long\~and it’s cold||

    Patty’s gone to Laredo||
    but she’d be back soon||
    left Jamaica and its glowin’\~on a boat far at noon||
    Morning let take his timber||
    up where the eagles fly||
    then make you tell ‘im never\~but she don’t cry||
    an’ morrows playin’ for money\~on your reason why||
    she’d only try…||
    …it’s the doorway,\~the door is locked\~the key is time|| ”

    I am glad somebody has paid attention to this song.

    Below is the complete transcription with the conversations (Renaldo, Clara & The Woman In White – whoever she is…)

    11381459||11383980||…always in a… how low?||
    11384060||11388050||- You’ll never have to make a decision\~as long as you live !||
    11388050||11394610||
    then it’s only anything in a wedding\~fire an’ all that, that’s been so nice||
    11397110||11402611||
    but I know it’s still long\~and it’s cold||
    11403111||11407612||- I wouldn’t wanna make ‘im\~to take a decision.||
    11407713||11411713||I wish him\~I could have settled down.||
    11412210||11415020||
    Patty’s gone to Laredo||
    11415020||11419521||- … Take a decision\~- I will\~- She’s very amicable||
    11419621||11422610||
    but she’d be back soon||
    11422611||11424911||- Is this your apartment?||
    11424912||11429512||- Well…it belongs to a friend he’s in an’ out\~of Marakesh; we’ve been staying here.||
    11429610||11433310||
    left Jamaica and its glowin’\~on a boat far at noon||
    11433311||11436311||- Renaldo hardly goes out, though.\~A problem.||
    11436311||11439111||
    Morning let take his timber||
    11439190||11443190||… that’s why I can’t live in this place\~- Well I live here, where should I go?||
    11443289||11446110||
    up where the eagles fly||
    11446190||11452430||
    then make you tell ‘im never\~but she don’t cry||
    11454730||11461531||- I’m very busy on weekends, I’m married\~- Oh, you’ve a husband…\~I know weekend husbands.||
    11462750||11467310||
    an’ morrows playin’ for money\~on your reason why||
    11468810||11472250||
    she’d only try…||
    11474030||11480310||
    …it’s the doorway,\~the door is locked\~the key is time||

  4. TonyAttwood says:

    I have no idea how you were able to do that Alfredo. Brilliant.

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