Songs about Dylan: The Scots

By Aaron Galbraith

As I’m heading home to Scotland for a visit next week I thought this was the perfect time to commemorate my visit with a quick article looking at some songs written about Dylan by a couple of Scottish artists. We’ve already covered Eric Bogle and his “Do You Know Any Dylan” so let’s look at two more.

First up it’s Norman Lamont and “The Ballad Of Bob Dylan”.

 

To be clear this is not the former UK Chancellor of The Exchequer, who is also Scottish, but a singer/songwriter based In Edinburgh.

This track appeared on his 2004 album “The Wolf Who Snared The Moon”.

Writing on his own website he describes the genesis of the track: “A song came on the radio, and I realised it was Dylan, I hadn’t heard it before, and it sounded great. The presenter said it was from the Traveling Wilburys first album, which was about to be released, and was called Tweeter and the Monkey Man.

Later on, at home, I got out my guitar and tried to remember it but couldn’t. I was enjoying the effort, though, and started making stuff up. ‘He flew in from Miami with a bagful of bones’ started it off and the rest just suggested itself from rhymes.

I didn’t know where it was going until the line ‘He said his name was Bob Dylan’ came. Could I write a whole song about Bob Dylan? I wondered if I could and took the idea for a walk. The rest of it came fairly easy. I knew I wanted to use the Tangled Up in Blue approach of different narrators, all unreliable, but they seemed to emerge as different Dylans, or maybe Dylans from different periods. It’s interesting to note the approach the film I’m Not There took.”

Here is an excellent live version followed by the lyrics.

Well he flew in from Miami with a bagful of bones
I was singing in the airport bar, just to pay off some loans
Two sleepless eyes in an unmade face
He saw me at the bar, he said “This must be the place!”
Said he was looking for a room for the night
He said his name was Bob Dylan, I said “Ha ha, right!”

He spent the night at my place on a couple of chairs
In the morning he was up and off and down the stairs
I found him in the marketplace, busking for cash
Playing my guitar in a rough and ready kind of fashion
A voice like a hangover looking for a cure
I said you sound like Bob Dylan, he said “Why sure.”

Twenty miles away, high security hospital
They were looking for a guy who’d jumped the wall
They were looking in the streets they were looking in the zoo
No way of knowing what this kind of man might do
They only thing they’d got on him while he was away
Was he was into Bob Dylan in a big big way.

My friend with his busking made a couple of pounds
And with a couple of mine that got a couple of rounds
We sat there reminiscing back down the line
To the sixties, how we hadn’t recognized them at the time
When this guy burst in, grabbed my friend by the sleeve And says he’s Bob Dylan – I thought Man, time to leave

They got stuck into each other, I never saw the stranger’s face
Barman’s yelling at me Get these guys outta the place
Spitting out language, they were spitting out blood
It was like watching Cain and Abel, before the flood.
Got out to the street and the stranger was gone
My friend Bob Dylan just picked up his bag of bones

(This is what he told me …)

‘That guy there used to be a country western star
Who put down his roots and never wandered far
With his Jewish mama and five kids on the farm
It had been too damn long since he’d done any harm.
His wife cut his throat, he had to get born again
I got his job, he’s been after me since then.’

What about the bones? He said ‘I carry them with me
They remind me of a guy I knew in 63
He could have been a big shot, I told him back then
But he turned into a junkie – well I ain’t no judge of men.’
That was his tale, as the evening wore on
When I woke up in the night Bob Dylan had gone.

He’d taken my guitar and my cowboy boots
My country singing tie and my country singing suit
Left me his bones, and some kinda book
It might have been a Bible, I never got time to look
‘Cause they kicked down the door, they walked in real slow
They said ‘We’re looking for Bob Dylan’ I said ‘Whaddya know?’

These days I don’t work much, guess I’m past my prime
I’m growing me a beard, that passes the time
I’m living in the country but I’ll get across the wall
When I get a better grip of my short-term recall
Some days I feel bitter, some days I feel worse
I just write another song and play it to the nurse.

Our second song today is Belle & Sebastian with “Like Dylan In The Movies”.

This is from their album “If You’re Feeling Sinister”. Rolling Stone listed the album as the 75th best album of the nineties (Time Out Of Mind was at 31).

Lisa’s kissing men like a long walk home
When the music stops
Take a tip from me, don’t go through the park
When you’re on your own, it’s a long walk home

If they follow you
Don’t look back
Like Dylan in the movies
On your own
If they follow you
It’s not your money that they’re after boy it’s you

Pure easy listening, settle down
On the pillow soft when they’ve all gone home
You can concentrate on the ones you love
You can concentrate, hey, now they’ve gone

If they follow you
Don’t look back
Like Dylan in the movies
On your own
If they follow you
It’s not your money that they’re after boy it’s you

Yeah you’re worth the trouble and you’re worth the pain
And you’re worth the worry, I would do the same
If we all went back to another time
I will love you over
I will love you over
I will love you

If they follow you
Don’t look back
Like Dylan in the movies
On your own
If they follow you
Tenderly you turn the light on in your room

If they follow you
Don’t look back
Like Dylan in the movies
On your own
If they follow you

D.A. Pennebaker has said that the title for the movie came from a quote by Satchel Paige, “don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you”.

Songwriter Stuart Murdoch wrote this after feeling paranoid that he was being followed while walking through a Glasgow park at night. Take it from me, as someone who has done exactly that on many an occasion, this is more than understandable!

Line’s such as “It’s not your money that they’re after boy it’s you” really reminds me of some of those scenes from Don’t Look Back of Dylan being mobbed outside of concert venues as well as the sort of interview questions Dylan would be asked then and after.

To finish up, let’s take a look at the sort of stuff Dylan could do himself when visiting Scotland. This one was recorded in a hotel room in Glasgow.

The index of all our “Songs about Dylan” articles is here.

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+ Dylan compositions reviewed is now on a new page of its own.  You will find it here.  It contains 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 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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