“I’m a fool for you”. Bob Dylan exploring feeling rather morose in the Basement

By Tony Attwood

“Yes, I’ll admit I’m a fool for you
Because you’re mine, I walk the line”
(Johnny Cash: I Walk The Line)

The phrase “I’m a fool for you” has been used as the title of at least 15 songs that I found in a quick search of Spotify, and turns up as a phrase used within songs (as with the example above) in hundreds more.

I’m not too sure why Bob had a go at using this phrase – but he was clearly interested enough to run through the song twice – the second version continuing from the first.  They appear at the end of disk 1 of “The Basement Tapes Complete” simply labelled Take 1 and Take 2.

As such this is a bit of a change from most of the rest of the songs on disk 1.  The majority are songs Bob did not write, and of those he did write, which we have already reviewed, most are one off run throughs without any lyrics seriously even sketched out before.

Musically the theme is the same as the opening, “Once upon a time you dressed so fine threw the bums a dime” – but then instead of pushing onwards and upwards it tilts back to from where it started.  But the feeling is much more depressed and inward looking, there is none of the arrogance and self-satisfaction that is so central to the denouncing of the woman in Rolling Stone.

So it’s quite clear there is an idea for a song in here, rather than this just being another jam session, as Bob has a middle eight as well as the chorus and the basic feel of the lyrics.

But… I guess I’d say he was right to let it go.

Here are the lyrics.  Version 1 stops after the first two verses.  Version 2 picks up in the middle 8 with “lonely in my days.”  As ever the lyrics aren’t clear so my attempt is mere approximation as the words sound to a pair of English-English ears.

All right in my heart but I can’t slumber
And it’s too high for me to count, I can’t get the number
I’m a fool for you, yes I’m a fool for you


Well you hear my celebration oh it’s a story
but they’re all too vain for me, all they want is glory
I’m a fool for you, I’m a fool for you.


Well it’s lonely in my days how can I believe
And it’s all in my heart but I just can’t receive, yeah


It’s crazy down in love ridin all around
It’s the rain it come down like on me it’s underground
I’m a fool for you, yes a fool for you


Well it’s lonely in my days but I just don’t believe
And it’s all in my heart but I just can’t receive, yeah


When I come back when I don’t make my return
yeah the heart shall rise, everybody shall burn
yes, I’m a fool for you I’m a fool for you


And just so you have someone else’s version of what can be done with the title line, here’s one.


So that ends the review of disk 1 of the complete Basement Tapes.  Out for 22 tracks we have seven noted as written by Bob, one of which I am discounting (Spanish in the loving tongue) as he clearly did not compose it but adapted a folk song.

  1. Edge of the Ocean
  2. One for the road
  3. Roll on Train
  4. Under control
  5. I’m guilty of loving you
  6. I’m a fool for you

On the second disc, which I shall start reviewing shortly we have 26 songs of which 10 appear to be Dylan compositions.  A complete list of the songs which I see as Dylan compositions from the Basement Tapes era can be found on our list of Dylan songs of the 60s  just scroll down to 1967, and as you’ll see, some of the songs from disc 2 and indeed the subsequent disks have already been reviewed.  I’ll finish the rest in the coming weeks.

What else is on the site

You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to the 500+ songs reviewed is now on a new page of its own.  You will find it here.

We also now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

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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