Bob and Helana: Tell me the truth one time. Another missed song found

Research by Aaron Galbraith, commentary by Tony Attwood

Bob Dylan wrote a series of songs with Helena Springs during 1978 and we have seven of these listed in the “Dylan songs of the 1970s” article:

Of course there were more songs than this written, and Expecting Rain provided a list

  • Baby Give It Up (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs)
  • Her Memory (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs-Ken Moore)
  • One More Time (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs)
  • Responsibility (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs)
  • Someone Else’s Arms (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs)
  • Tell Me The Truth One Time (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs)
  • What’s The Matter (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs)
  • Without You (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs)
  • Take It Or Leave It (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs)
  • Your Rockin’ Chair (Bob Dylan-Helena Springs) [Title uncertain?]

Heylin went further and added another five

  • Afternoon
  • Romance Blues
  • Satisfy Me
  • Brown Skin Girl
  • Miss Tea and Sympathy

and he states that over time all the songs were copyrighted.

However Dylan did not record them – at least in recordings we can find, and that includes the sound checks before concerts at which Dylan has regularly tried out new ideas and songs.  What makes the matter of tracking these songs even more complicated is that Heylin also asserts that some songs changed their names along the way.  “Brown skin girl” later becoming “Red Haired Girl” for example.

Obviously for us to be able to review a song we need to hear it, and so the list has been left as it was, but now Aaron has located a couple more tracks that seem to match songs on this list – “Tell Me the Truth One Time” and “Responsibility”

“Tell me the Truth One Time” appears on the recording below at five hours, 2 minutes 40 seconds (5.02.40 in digital) and goes on to 5.4.20.  I’m sorry I don’t know how to edit this down so that just this song appears – if you know how to do that please do email the resultant edited version containing just the song to Tony@schools.co.uk and I’ll substitute the edit for the complete file.  For now you’ll have to edge the cursor along the timeline at the foot of this video shot…

This is obviously a nearly completed song – the set of lyrics might not be totally worked out but the melody, chord sequence and great fun piano accompaniment that bounces along and emphasises the lyrics are all there.

But unfortunately, the recording is not complete – we can hear another verse start at the very end, but then the recording stops.

So why was the song abandoned?  After all they’ve got the piano part bouncing along and although the lyrics are fairly standard “you done me wrong” we’ve got a good catchline in “Tell me the truth one time” which is varied at the end of each verse.

My feeling is that by the time we reach the fourth verse we’re feeling like we need a change – ideally a middle 8 (a secondary section of the music with a different chord sequence and different chord sequence).   With such a strong musical accompaniment established and a clear melody and lyrical format, that would be the easiest thing to write in the song.

And that’s all that is needed.  A rock band accompaniment, leaving the piano dominant, would not be hard to fit in, and the song would be there: a stonking good number for a Helena Springs gig and a song that might well be covered by other bands.

But the song stopped, and was seemingly either deliberately abandoned and simply forgotten, and that seems a shame.

I’m dating the song 1978 and adding it to the song to the list for that year, although without any knowledge where it comes within the collection that Dylan and Springs wrote.

I’ve made my usual inadequate attempt at the lyrics, but if you can improve on them that would be great.

Tell me what is wrong
Why can't we get along?
Tell me what is right
Tell me the truth one time then you lie all night

Your love is like a dying leaf
You bring me so much toil and grief
?
Tell me the truth one time I'll still remain

You leave me stranded on a hook
You were so blind you never looked
Rid your life of mortal sin
Tell me the truth one time and find the truth within

Saw you hanging with that group
Reminds me of that boiled soup
?
Tell me the truth one time and you'll still be late

What else is on the site

You’ll find some notes about 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 all the 590 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 2000 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, please do drop me a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article.  Email Tony@schools.co.uk

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, and links back to our reviews

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6 Responses to Bob and Helana: Tell me the truth one time. Another missed song found

  1. Larry fyffe says:

    Some words are hard to discern….but may be ….other suggestions welcome!

    Tell me what is wrong
    Why can’t we get along
    Tell me what is right
    Tell me the truth one time
    And then you lie all night

    Your love be like a dying leaf
    You bring me so much toil and grief
    Think I’ll pass the train
    You tell me the truth one time
    And I’ll still remain

    Leave me stranded on the hook
    You weren’t so blind, you never looked
    Rid your life of mortal sin
    And tell the truth one time
    And find the truth within

    Saw you hanging with that group
    Their minds made up of boiled soup
    Mark your words and leave no blanks
    And tell me the truth one time
    And you’ll still be late

  2. Larry fyffe says:

    *find truth within

  3. Larry fyffe says:

    **’And this time, I’ll pass the train ‘

    ( ‘ love is like’ and ‘were so blind’ sounds correct as well)

  4. Morten Jonsson says:

    Here’s what I’ve got, based on you guys’ work. I’m confident about everything but the bracketed parts, and I think the first of those might be right.

    Tell me what is wrong
    Why can’t we get along
    Tell me what is right
    Tell me the truth one time
    And then you lie all night

    Your love is like a dying leaf
    You bring me so much toil and grief
    a passing train
    Tell me the truth one time
    And I will still remain

    Leave me stranded on a hook
    You weren’t so blind, you never looked
    Rid your life of mortal sin
    And tell me the truth one time
    And find peace within

    Caught you hanging with that group
    Their minds made up of boiled soup
    Mark your words and
    Tell me the truth one time
    And you will still be late

  5. Larry fyffe says:

    Perhaps better is:
    “Think I’ll catch the train”

  6. Larry fyffe says:

    Or rather ” Anytime” or “This time , I’ll catch the train”…..maybe

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