Goodbye Holly: Bob Dylan’s movie song not used in the movie

By Tony Attwood

My original aim in starting this blog was to undertake reviews of all the songs Dylan released on studio albums.  Then I started adding the songs from the bootleg series – and now as I approach the 500th review we’re onto some rather more obscure material, some of which turn out to be brilliant pieces, others are knock about ideas that didn’t make the grade.

“Goodbye Holly” is  a piece of film music Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid which was not used in the movie.

In 2010 the Daily Telegraph, a right wing national daily newspaper published in London, ran the article “The gems that Bob Dylan discarded” in which Clinton Heylin picked what the writer of the introduction to the piece called “25 of his finest unheard tracks.”   Goodbye Holly came in at number 9.

I am not sure it truly merits a listing as high as number 9, or indeed a listing on the “finest unheard tracks” list at all, but since the list includes a number of songs none of us has ever heard, I think we can take the introduction with a pinch of salt.

What I can say is that “Goodbye Holly” didn’t make the cut for, and still wouldn’t be part of, my list of The 20 Sometimes Forgotten Dylan Masters that you can still find online.  And speaking of online, if you fancy finding out about an online bonus that’s the link to follow.

And of course in gambling and in music we each have our own judgements.

This song was one of a whole range of songs Bob wrote for the Pat Garrett movie which were to be used to mourn the death of each member of the gang, but as with several other songs was set aside once “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” was composed a little later.

Here are the lyrics in full…

Goodbye Holly, Holly goodbye
Your wife’s a gonna miss you
Your baby’s gonna cry
Goodbye Holly, Holly so long

All your good times have passed now and gone.
Pat Garrett, he shot you with a Colt 44
He dropped you across a table
Now you’re gone forever more.

The recording sessions for the movie started on 20 January in Mexico City, with Billy 7, being recorded (along with lots of other “Billy” takes.   Also recorded in the session on that day were “Under Turkey”, “Billy Surrenders”, “And He’s Killed Me Too”, “Goodbye Holly” and “Pecos Blues”.

The rest of the songs were recorded in February, and that was that for the film, but the way was set for a return to a year of highly productive writing.

Here’s the list of songs taken from 1973 as we’ve listed them in the Dylan Songs of the 70s index.

  1. Goodbye Holly
  2. Rock me Mama
  3. Knocking on heaven’s door
  4. Never say goodbye
  5. Nobody cept you
  6. Going going gone
  7. Hazel
  8. Something there is about you
  9. You Angel You
  10. On a night like this
  11. Tough Mama
  12. Dirge 
  13. Wedding Song

Rock me Mama will be reviewed next which will complete the review of the year, and take us to 500 review articles.

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

What else is on the site

1: Almost 500 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. I guess there’s a reason you had to tell us the Daily Telegraph is a right wing newspaper. Do you ever describe a newspaper as left wing?

  2. What’s more, he clearly hasn’t heard some of them. Some are just rumours, others he’s seen in manuscript or copyright.

  3. Yes, but rarely because in the UK there are so few left wing news outlets. However this is irrelevant to a discussion of Dylan. These reviews are self-evidently the opinion of the reviewer, and as I say at the foot of many of the reviews if someone wants to write an alternative view of the song then I’d normally publish it.

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