Mary Lou I love You Too. Bob Dylan tries another style in the basement

By Tony Attwood

Very unusually there is a little extract of this song on the internet – at least at the time of writing there was.  Quite what it is doing on the BBC Music site I don’t really know, but given that the record company has been particularly active in demanding the removal of most of the recordings that have appeared online, we should perhaps be grateful for this 30 seconds.

I know that these songs are just snippets and ideas, but really they are worth looking at.  For as a website I was reading this morning said, “Some may say the time of exploration is over,” (I translate from the French).   You can find where I was at Casino epoca latest promotions.  In Dylan’s case no, the time of exploration most certainly was not over; indeed with John Wesley Harding still to come this year, I think we can say it was still only just beginning.

And as for the oddity of the BBC site, assuming their link to the song it is still up by the time you play it you will find it here.

Deezer has a song that plays on what should be their page about this song, but Dylan it most certainly ain’t.

Adding to the oddities, the website “Nobody sings Dylan like Dylan” has a page with this song’s name and a set of lyrics that have nothing to do with Dylan.  Mystery upon mystery!

And so after a good half hour rummaging around among empty sites and links to other songs we come back to the one person who has worked on these songs seriously: the writer of Haiku 61 who gives us this haiku and the lyrics.  But for once I think I can do a little more than him in terms of the lyrics, although by and large we both agree.

First the haiku which sums it all up.

I want to leave you,
But my heart wants to stay, so
I’ll leave it with you.

That’s really clever; I don’t know how the guy does it, but that certainly is what the song seems to be about.

As a prelude to the lyrics the writer says, “I can’t understand everything that he’s saying,”   and I have to say I have the same problem.   Here’s my version…

Well I been inside but I’m living like morning low
And I don’t wanna treat they’re courting me not to go
When all the morning birds that fly away so so high
All now each and every one, my baby and I

I want to leave you now get married by
I want to leave you now but my heart says neither do I
Well I don’t want a mountain rainbow, it was a sound
Well my girl and Mary Lou my love come down

Now it’s a tune a week more happy tunes that they sang
And she dances me for the merry gift I can bring
Well that wide old mountain stand so high, wide and blue
O Mary Lou, can’t you see I love you too?

I want to leave you now but my heart’s too slow
I want to leave you, Mary Lou, but my heart says don’t go
Now so I’m sitting down in this old cafe ah well
I’m going to leave you now and my dear old happy home

It has been rehearsed as the band clearly know where they are going and Dylan has melody sorted out.   And they all know where to pause too!  And where to end

There’s a Latin feel and it ends with a very cheesy three quick chords from the band in the style of a cha-cha-cha ending which suggests to me Dylan was just relaxing and experimenting to see where the whole thing went.

I think this is in the compositional position of “My Woman She’s a-leaving” which was recorded just before; the music is sorted out and the band know what they are up to.  Also Dylan has the melody worked out.  It is just that “My woman” is much more in Dylan’s natural style while “Mary Lou” isn’t, and so it comes over as a less effective piece.

In between the two we have Santa Fe, which shows just how varied Bob was looking to be by this time.   But perhaps we should particular note that these three Dylan compositions which come next to each other on disc five of the Complete Basement Tapes really do move the whole collection forwards.

And I would say that it is helpful to hear “Dress it up better have it all” in the same context.  The lyrics may not be sorted, but Dylan has got the music worked out and so has the band.

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.  It contains links to reviews of every Dylan composition that we can find a recording of – if you know of anything we have missed please do write in.

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.


  1. The possible genesis of this song–as opposed to the “meaning”–might be found in the fact that Barnard and Mary Lou Paturel owned the Espresso Cafe on Tinker Street in Woodstock. There is the line about “this old cafe”.

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