Unfinished masterpiece alert: Almost Persuaded – Bob Dylan at his most tantalising

by Tony Attwood

OK, I know I keep going on about Dylan’s forgotten or lost gems, and no, I don’t think that every little scrap of six notes knocked out at random by Bob is yet another work of genius.  But this guy throws away and forgets half evolved songs that 10,000 talented songwriters would, given the chance, scrabble across the floor to pick up and call them their own.

And so here we have “Almost Persuaded” which was recorded most likely in April 1981

This is a simple but highly effective chord sequence which I can’t recall from any other Dylan song, and it is the chord sequence here that plays over and over again, determining the melody.

In case you are interested the sequence is

F  Bb

G  C

F  G  C

(Repeat ad infinitum )

Just that over and over again.  But as you can hear it leads to a perfectly acceptable melody line which itself demands a plaintive narrative in the lyrics.  As ever I am not going to try and transcribe the lyrics – although I think Bob might be saying at one point “I lost the record”.

Indeed so plaintively perfect is this chord sequence and melody I’d suggest this is a perfect song of the type that someone could come along and finish off, send to Bob and then get his ok for the song to be released as a 50/50 composition.  Anyone want to try?  You could make a fortune (and cut me in for 10% for introducing the idea, while you are at it).

If more proof is needed of how much potential this sequence with the backing rhythm offers just listen to the guitar solo – it just naturally evolves itself around the sequence and you just know that given another run through the lead guitarist could indeed soar to ever greater heights.

Indeed this little extract could have it all.

Here is another copy of the same recording, just in case the first one should disappear.  This one has the benefit of leading onto Caribbean Wind, which I could personally listen to for always and a day.  And if that were not enough, just leave this compilation running for a truly gorgeous live version of “Visions”.  In fact, just give up life and keep listening.

Oh Bob you absolute tormentor.

Please someone give us the lyrics.

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: 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

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5 Responses to Unfinished masterpiece alert: Almost Persuaded – Bob Dylan at his most tantalising

  1. Something in the chord sequence somehow reminds me of the technique Ian Tyson uses to create melodies, which I always heard as idiosyncratic and surprising.

  2. Bob says:

    Agreed about the melody. Seems that ‘I’m Not There’ isn’t untypical: he plays with a tune, adlibs/improvises lyrics – and either rejects or goes on to sharpen and complete…

  3. Larry Fyffe says:

    It’s almost like….

    Almost a radical
    Almost a million times
    Almost a-raving at the dawn
    Almost persuaded
    Almost elated
    But it’s gone
    Almost

  4. Larry Fyffe says:

    Oops, left out ….’Almost related’…in between ‘persuaded’ and ‘elated’

  5. Hello there Tony, Thank you for posting this analysis of a song from Bob Dylan’s Music Box http://thebobdylanproject.com/Song/id/3972/Almost-Persuaded Come and join us inside and listen to every song composed, recorded or performed by Bob Dylan, plus all the great covers streaming on YouTube, Spotify, Deezer and SoundCloud plus so much more… including this link.

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