By Tony Attwood
When we started the search for a copy of “Liverpool Gal” we knew there was a very early recording around somewhere but just couldn’t find it. So we advertised for any reader on this site who would take on the job of recording the song, from the information we had.
The result was twofold – one part was that one of our readers produced his own version, and the other was that Aaron traced more information on the original recording from an anonymous source.
Dear Anon, thank you so much. Here it is…
As we have noted Dylan has not copywrited the song – which is unusual – and the only recording from around the time of its conception was made at Tony Glover’s Minneapolis home in 1963.
But the references to snow in London are most certainly real at this time and that gives us the opening clue to the fact that this work was based on a real situation.
Of course, we don’t know who the Liverpool gal was, although many have speculated, but we can see the song’s importance as coming from a time when Dylan was starting to based his music around folk songs from the British Isles. It was something that was dominant through to “Restless Farewell” as we have noted elsewhere.
Here many commentators cite as the source “The Lake s of Pontcha rt ra in” with the story of the lonely traveller who meets the fair maid who he then leaves but he remembers her forever. It is the very stuff of this folk tradition which formed the basis later for “Girl From the North Country,” and “One too many mornings.” The physical songs of moving on, which I have written something about in my reviews of Dylan’s themes year by year, combining with emotional expression.
In this case however Dylan’s writing about the girl in the song is clearer than normal – she is more real, whereas normally it is the moving on that is the fundamental reality of the song and because of this the song becomes more potent. Where the moving on is the dominant power, the people left behind are just people left behind. But not this time – he still has to go, but that woman never leaves his mind.
And this is emphasised by the fact that the woman understands. And that is a poignant force – because those who do not experience the need to keep on moving on find it near impossible to understand how one can leave behind the person one leaves, just to keep on moving on.
But here there is no begging for her him not to leave. She gets it too.
So who was she? The most popular thought is that she could have been Pauline Boty, generally regarded as the founder of the British Popart movement. The current wikipedia entry for her says that her “paintings and collages often demonstrated a joy in self-assured femininity and female sexuality, and expressed overt or implicit criticism of the “man’s world” in which she lived.” She was born 6 March 1938 and died 1 July 1966. The Guardian has a good piece about her online.
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