Bob Dylan’s “Telephone Wire” – another missing song found.

By Tony Attwood

I guess Bob Dylan likes telephones – wasn’t there a Theme Time Radio Hour on telephones one time?

Anyway, here is a snippet about telephones – it really is no more than that; just a snippet of a song being tried out, with a telephone theme…

If you really know your obscure Dylan songs you might by chance get a quick flashback to Long Distance Operator which has the opening lyrics

Long-distance operator
Place this call, it’s not for fun
Long-distance operator
Please, place this call, you know it’s not for fun
I gotta get a message to my baby
You know, she’s not just anyone

This is of course a different song, but to add to the confusion, the lyrics printed on the site that carries the video above have nothing to do with the song – but are in fact from “Long Distance Operator”.  Funny how people put stuff up without checking!

Incidentally I have also seen a site with this video on it called “Telephone Line”.  And elsehwere it is also known on at least one site as “Las Vegas Blues” but I suspect that was just the site owner trying to think of a name for the extract.

Anyway this snippet was reputedly recorded on 1 May 1970 as part of the George Harrison sessions.  And these I think are the actual lyrics…

Wondering, I'm wondering when will my swamp catch on fire
Wondering, I'm wondering when will my swamp catch on fire
Sitting here looking at that bad old telephone wire

Going to Las Vagas going by the evening sun
Going to Las Vagas going just as fast as I can run
Gonna win some money and give it to my hun

It is, as you can hear, a simple 12 bar blues with the guys just playing the standard three chord format and Dylan making up some lines as he goes along.

I must add a word of thanks to Aaron Galbraith who found this extract, and indeed has just sent me notes on a few more such missing Dylan songs which I hope to get to in the coming days and weeks.

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  1. Song found on CD bootlegs such as POSSUM BELLY OVERALLS (Gold Standard Nash, 1994) [], 7 YEARS OF BAD LUCK (Spank Records, 1993) []or ALMOST WENT TO SEE ELVIS (Cool Dady, 1997) [] where the song is named respectively “Wonder When My Swamp’s Gonna Catch on Fire”, “Telephone Wire”, and “Telephone Line”. And i have the following slightly differents lyrics (see

    Wonderin’, i’m wonderin’ when will my swamp catch on fire
    I’m wonderin’, i’m wonderin’ if my swamp gonna catch on fire
    Sittin’ here lookin’ at that old Bell telephone wire.

    Well i’m goin’ to Las Vegas, goin’ by the evenin’ sun
    I’m goin’ to Las Vegas, goin’ to best places i can run
    Gonna win some money, give to my hon’.

    Best regards

  2. And you transcript is better : it’s clearly
    “I’m goin’ to Las Vegas, goin’ just as fast as i can run”
    but i prefer “that old Bell telephone wire”…

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