“Patty’s gone to Laredo”: The torment Bob Dylan gives us poor fans (and a new recording)

By Tony Attwood

This review related to the bootlegged version, not the Rolling Thunder Review version.  There is no available version on the internet, so we offer our version, above, recorded in 2022.


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


  1. 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. 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. 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 !||
    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||
    11403111||11407612||- I wouldn’t wanna make ‘im\~to take a decision.||
    11407713||11411713||I wish him\~I could have settled down.||
    Patty’s gone to Laredo||
    11415020||11419521||- … Take a decision\~- I will\~- She’s very amicable||
    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.||
    left Jamaica and its glowin’\~on a boat far at noon||
    11433311||11436311||- Renaldo hardly goes out, though.\~A problem.||
    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?||
    up where the eagles fly||
    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.||
    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||

  4. This is what I hear from the new box – with a little help from my friend Stuart Taylor:

    Patty’s gone to Laredo
    everything in a bloom
    Patty’s gone to Laredo
    only of that tune

    doing things in a barroom
    how to make Annie soon
    tell who linked in a low way in the Harlow
    an’ done anything in a wedding firing all night
    happened tonight
    but the door is still locked and it’s known

    Patty’s gone to Laredo
    but she be back soon
    left Jamaica this morning
    on a boat far in gloom
    Bernard Lee takes his timber
    up where the eagles fly
    and they could tell him never
    but she don’t cry
    and all those plates for money
    on your reason why
    she’d only try
    it’s the doorway, door is locked
    the key is this time

  5. bob dylan’s Patty’s gone to Laredo
    on disc 2 new rolling thunder review live recordings

  6. Nice try Alfreido ! (and Stuart !!).

    Most of the lyrics are nonsense because I guess Dylan is working on the tune and has yet to write the lyrics fully, I hear quite a few different words to you but it’s impossible to really pin them down.

    Your reference to “Bernard Lee” is likely impossible wishful thinking as she only met him (Bernard Lee Shaw-whom she later married) after being released on bail in 1976 after Dylan worked up the song.

  7. Patty gone to Laredo
    But she be back soon
    Left Jamaica this morning
    On a boat by you
    Born in Virginian timber
    Up where the eagles fly
    Then makes him tell it never
    But she don’t cry
    And Laurel is playing for money
    On your river side
    She’s on his side
    The doorway, the door is locked
    But the key’s inside

  8. Take note:

    My above lyrics are only approximate …..
    needs more work ….I’ll try again later

  9. On a boat parted low
    Morning let’s take his timber
    Up where the eagles fly
    Then make him tell it never
    But she don’t cry
    And Laurel’s playing for money
    On your ribbon wide
    She’s on its side
    It’s a doorway
    The door is locked
    And the key’s inside


  10. And the cloud that took the form
    When the rest of Heaven was blue
    Of a demon in my view
    (Poe: Alone)

  11. Patty gone to Laredo
    Everything in the blue
    Patty gone to Laredo
    Bring on that tune

    Don’t ask me
    Share the bottle
    Have to figure it soon
    Don’the drink alone within the hollow

    And don’t anything in a wedding
    By an old eye happen tonight
    But the door is still locked
    And it’s so

    Patty gone to Lorado
    But she’ll be back soon
    Left Jamaica this morning
    On a boat Bonnie Lou

    Born in Liz Texas timber
    Up where the eagles fly
    Then makes him tell it never
    But she don’t cry

    And Laurel’s playing for money
    On your ribbons wide, get on his side
    Yes, the doorway, the door is locked
    But the key’s inside

  12. *Gonna think in a barroom
    Have to figure it soon
    I don’the drink alone within the hollow

    ** ribbon wide

  13. Movie song “Up Where We Belong” contains the lines:

    .Lift us up…where the eagles cry
    On mountain high

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