Bound to lose bound to win, Sally Gal and Over the Road. Dylan songs? Probably not.

By Tony Attwood

Of course it had to happen.  There I was on the Untold Dylan Facebook site (see below if you are not already a member of our group) boasting away that we had, on this site, reviewed every single Dylan composition that there was.

And maybe we had, or maybe we hadn’t.  You can decide, but for what it is worth I am sticking to my guns.

Because there are a couple of bits of information I need to clear up, vis a vis the songs “Over the Road”, “Sally Gal” and “Bound to Lose, Bound to Win”.  None of these was included in the list of all the songs that we reckon Dylan wrote.

Let’s start with the scrap of a song running to 1 minute 17 seconds including explanations and excuses, and known as “Bound to Lose, Bound to Win”.

“Bound to Lose” is a song that Dylan sings a scrap of on the Whitmark recordings, and it is just a scrap because much of the recording is taken up with Bob explaining that he had left the lyric sheet at home and so could only give a quick run through of a part of the song.  The lyrics, he explained on the 1963 recording, would be sent over later.

Heylin makes the comment that the song was never copyrighted, which given the propensity for Bob and his chums to claim anything that might be a Dylan original, suggests that either Dylan forgot to send the copy over to the publisher, or he did and the publisher lost it.  (Publisher loses artist’s material?  Surely not!  Err yes, quite often in fact.)  Or maybe there never was a composition by Dylan – he was just singing a reworking of an old folk song.

For what is a little strange however is that Dylan has a complete grasp of the part of the song that he does sing, and he generally seems to have a great memory for lyrics all through this career, so downright forgetting the whole set of lyrics, does sound a little unlikely.

And, as has often been pointed out, the piece does have a certain resemblance to Sally Gal.

Indeed the verse Dylan supposedly “remembers”—“Well, I’m just one of those rambling men…”—is from “Sally Gal” which he recorded a year before but which again was not copyrighted.

I'm just one of those ramblin' men
Ramblin' since I don't know when
Here I come and I'ma gone again
You might think I've got no end
Bound to lose, bound to win
Bound to walkin' this road again

Indeed even the Bob Dylan official website that has the abbreviation “Arr” for “Arrangement” after several songs that it seems to claim Bob wrote (such as Corrina Corrina) which he clearly didn’t, doesn’t make a claim for Sally Gal.  It doesn’t say who wrote the song but does end with “Copyright © 2005 by Special Rider Music” presumably meaning the recording’s copyright has been claimed by the publisher.

And that is not the start of those lines because according to Heylin the lyrics come from a notebook left at the home of Even and Mac McKenzie in Summer 1961 – the song which became Sally Gal as appearing on Bootleg volume 7 (No direction home).

Probably because of this reason although both Sally Gal and Bound to Lose are listed on the official Dylan site there is nothing about the authorship of either song.  And Dylan (or at least his publishers) are, as we know, quite keen to claim anything that might be a Dylan original, as a Dylan original.

All of which leads me to believe the best we can say is that he never fleshed this one out beyond the chorus. The worst we can say is that he was probably just checking to see if he could make something out of a song he had picked up elsewhere, and if so would change the lyrics later.

So all that is novel in this song is

Well, I’m bound to lose, bound to win
Bound to walk this road again
Bound to lose, bound to win
Bound to walkin’ this road again

and that too may well have come from somewhere else.

Thus, for what it is worth, my thought is that neither of these songs is a Dylan original.

But I thought I would include them just in case you wanted to know why I hadn’t included them.  If you see what I mean.


  1. ‘Sally Gal” was released nearly 50 years ago on the vinyl TMQ bootleg album “Blind Boy Grunt”
    – at the end of the track, Dylan’s says his guitar’s out of tune and he can’t play when it’s out of tune.

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