John Lennon and Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan and John Lennon

By Aaron Galbraith

This is part of the series of articles on Songs about Bob Dylan.   The index to the series can be found here.


 

Let’s look at a couple of tracks that John Lennon wrote or produced about Bob Dylan, and also at Dylan’s take on a John Lennon song.

First up is David Peel & The Lower East Sides’s “The Ballad Of Bob Dylan”.

Peel style sounds, to me, like early punk but performed acoustically. His lyrics and album titles show his main influences were marijuana and The Beatles, “Have A Marijuana”, “Bring Back The Beatles”, “John Lennon For President”, “Legalize Marijuana” and “Give Hemp A Chance”, to name just a few.

This track appeared on the album “The Pope Smokes Dope”. It was released on Apple Records in 1972 and was produced by John and Yoko, who also do some backing vocals throughout the album. I’m not sure if they sing on this one but it sounds like it to me.

Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman
Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman

Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman
Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman

Who was not afraid to sing and write about the poor? Bob Dylan
Who was not afraid to sing and write against the war? Bob Dylan
Who’s not afraid to sing the problems that we have?
Who’s not afraid to sing about the king of ads?
Who’s not afraid to sing for us to understand?
Who’s not afraid of being just another man?

Who is not afraid? Who’s not afraid?
Not afraid, not afraid, not afraid

Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman
Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman
Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman
Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman

Who gave folk and rock music its sacrificial men? Bob Dylan
Who did Woody Guthrie help influence other friends? Bob Dylan
Who is coming back again, better through his songs?
Who is Robert Zimmerman, where does he belong?
Who is not afraid to sing of people politics?
Who is not afraid to write and sing of people’s trips?

Who is not afraid? Who’s not afraid?
Not afraid, not afraid, not afraid

Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman
Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman
Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman
Bob Dylan
Robert Zimmerman

Who is not afraid to write and sing the way he likes? Bob Dylan
Who was not afraid to write when people were uptight? Bob Dylan
Who is folk and rock people’s greatest music star?
Who is all for changing music scene for all of us?
Who would help us with the United States when he sings his songs?
Who is controversial when he sings against the wrong?

Peel also has a track called “The Ballad Of A.J. Webberman” which recounts the Dylanologist’s famous incident of racking through Bob’s trashcan (they were friends and formed the Rock Liberation Front and targeted Dylan, McCartney and Led Zeppelin amongst others). The least said about the track the better, but I will just leave this here in case you are inclined to give it a listen. John Lennon did not have anything to do with this one!

Next up is Lennon’s own “Serve Yourself”. It was unreleased during his lifetime but two versions have cropped up on various archival released.

Here is the piano version which showed up on the Signature Box set “Home Recordings” bonus disc.

 

A much more vitriolic and expletive-laden acoustic version appeared on his Anthology box set. I love this, it’s a typical Scouser’s response to Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”.

 

I love the last lines:

And it’s your goddamn mother you dirty little git, now.
Get in there and wash yer ears!

All that leaves us with a perfect opportunity to use, once again, Dylan’s own take of a Beatles’ track Lennon wrote about himself!

 

What else is here?

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.

There is an alphabetic index to the 550+ Dylan compositions reviewed on the site which you will find it here.  There are also 500+ other articles on different issues relating to Dylan.  The other subject areas are also shown at the top under the picture.

We also have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook which mostly relates to Bob Dylan today.  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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