Bob Dylan: “Any time”. The sketch of an utter masterpiece from the Basement.

By Tony Attwood

This to me sounds close to being one of those songs that Bob Dylan throws away and which most of the rest of the world would give up everything they own to be able to claim to have written.

The trouble is the electric piano part and vocal is so badly recorded as to make listening to the song really hard going.  And then as we are really getting into it, it just suddenly stops.

Maybe the tape ran out, but one thing is sure Bob’s ideas certainly didn’t.

Tragically we only have one version and this is it.  Someone, somewhere, needs to get hold of this, work it, complete it and release because it really is a terrific piece of work which tries out playing minor chords against the major that is expected to give a really odd effect.

Looked at written down the sequence is simple, but the way Dylan works the melody around it and then clashes those minors and majors makes it something else.  Try it on a piano; it is fun.

Ab, Gb Db Ab; Db E Ab

Middle section Db Ab Db Eb

As for the lyrics the writer of the haiku says

My conclusion is that the words that I yanked out of this after playing it a dozen times are about as deep as the song itself. That’s fine. It was meant to be a fun time, not a writer’s retreat.

The piece starts with an instrumental verse as the band pick up the idea and then the lyrics igo something like this…

Well any time at all

Why do I hate you?

I can use something anything at all

Anytime you want it to

Well any time baby time is not time at all

You want me to be your man

Any time at all like you yes you could

yes you know I can....

At the night time all I want is you honey you

Well what more can I say?

Now you can walk on the back of my shoes

Now anytime of day

Well each time you see that I'll be your man

Yes you can believe I want you too

Anytime at all that you understand

Anytime you'll know what to do

You know that you're mine

Yes I do I know all the time

You can whisper you

Now you might go by nobody's rhyme

But that's all right for you

Well anytime that you know that you know the rest

Honey but you know what's best

Anytime later I just want my time

But honey you know the rest

You know what I want to say

I don't know you're in my place

Anytime that you want me some

Now you come on me and you know what I say...

And that is it, it stops part way through a verse, and we have no more.

OK I realise that no one else at all has picked this is a proto masterpiece, but I suspect that is because of the quality of the recording and the mishmash of the start and the sudden end, but really, this song is something special and had Dylan remembered it we’d all be screaming like mad when he played it at a gig.

As the writer of the Haiku’s says, the Basement Tape time “was meant to be a fun time, not a writer’s retreat,” and yes this is fun time, but the guys happened to strike gold, probably without knowing it (given they didn’t come back to it.)

I can say that if I was still in a band, I’d make this part of the repertoire at once.  It is a great song, and of all the songs that I have found on the Basement which I didn’t know before, this is one of a small collection that really stand out to me.

Fortunately for me, although my memory of events, people’s names, people’s faces and everything like that is rubbish, my musical memory doesn’t falter and I can hear this in my head whenever I want, with all the awfulness of the recording cleared out.

What a find!  What a piece of bluesy rock n roll!

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  1. I love this one. Looking forward to your take on “Down by the Station,” “King of France,” and “She’s on My Mind Again.” (Whenever I hear the last one, I end up playing it compulsively.) Those are some of my favorites in the whole collection. It’s tragic how badly they were recorded, but the consolation is that we have them at all.

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