by Tony Attwood
“Responsibility” is another Helena Springs song that is listed as being a co-composition with Bob Dylan. The background to these recordings can be found here along with a full list of them, in our review “Bob and Helana” which looks at “Tell me the truth one time.”
To hear “Responsibility” – jump to 5.07.42 (five hours, seven minutes 42 seconds) – it is right near the end of the who sequence of songs.
So, it is listed as being a co-composition with Bob Dylan and quite clearly the song has been worked out and rehearsed prior to this recording – but we are still at an early version, perhaps laying down a rough recording of the piece so that it can be considered later and if required, a more fulsome arrangement can be made.
But it seems it was not required, and no further need was found for the song.
The band does get through a rather uninspiring instrumental break and Helena does her best with the material which relies so heavily on the repetition of the title word as a chorus – but really it is unfair on everyone.
For as things stand there is not enough within the song to consider how it might go further, and my personal guess is that it really couldn’t go much further. The chorus of the word “Responsibility” is just too unexceptional, too unexciting too… well everything, to take it further.
As a result the boppy accompaniment is put in place, but it seems to have no relationship to the lyrics. Telling a person that he or she is not taking responsibility but is “shooting off your mouth” is a possible starting point for a song (but then it doesn’t really fit with such a bouncy piece of music.) If we think of other songs of disdain, which I guess this is, we think of openings like “You’ve got a lot of nerve…” and then think of the melody and accompaniment. Then we are in a different landscape.
And that I guess is why it was abandoned. It is presented as the final track on the massive collection of Rundown Rehearsal Tapes. I doubt that anyone particularly remembers it for the simple reason it is so unmemorable both in melody, lyrics and accompaniment – and to work a song really needs one of those three elements to shine through like a burning light.
It doesn’t, and is merely remembered as another Dylan co-composition. Actually I suspect even Bob wouldn’t remember it.
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, links back to our reviews