Commentary by Tony Attwood, song found by Aaron Galbraith
With our attempts to find ever more obscure Dylan compositions, and indeed get the number of Dylan compositions and co-compositions up to 600 (for no reason other than the fact that it is a round number) we’re currently searching high and low – not so much for songs that have never been heard before (we are unlikely to find many of them) but those which somehow we have missed from the index of Dylan songs that we have reviewed on this site.
So we now move on to “Bonnie Why’d You Cut My Hair?”
It was performed once on 1 May 1961, according to the official Dylan site and so we presume that is what the recording above is – the performance on 1 May 1961, and presumably it is sung to Bonnie.
Purportedly the ‘real’ (or if you prefer, the original) Girl From The North Country, she first met Dylan in 1959 and they remained close throughout his days in Minneapolis. After he left for New York in December 1960 they remained in regular touch throughout Dylan’s rise to fame.
Jaharana Romney, formerly Bonnie Beecher, was interviewed by Markus Wittman, May 1989 and it is reported that in the book “Wanted Man, in Search of Bob Dylan”, edited by John Bauldie (1992), pages 26-27 we get this commentary…
WITTMAN: Did [Bob Dylan] write any songs back in Minnesota?
ROMNEY: …He wrote a couple of fooling around songs – he wrote one when I cut his hair, which made me so angry!…
… He came to my apartment and said, “It’s an emergency! I need your help! I gotta go home an’ see my mother!”
He was talking in the strangest Woody Guthrie-Oklahoma accent. I don’t know if she was sick, but it was an unexpected trip he had to make up to Hibbing and he wanted me to cut his hair. He kept saying, “Shorter! Shorter! Get rid of the sideburns!”
So I did my very best to do what he wanted and then in the door come Dave Morton, Johnny Koerner and Harvey Abrams. They looked at him and said, “Oh my God, you look terrible! What did you do?” And Dylan immediately said, “She did it! I told her just to trim it up a little bit but she cut it all off. I wasn’t looking in a mirror!”
And then he went and wrote that song, “Bonnie, why’d you cut my hair? Now I can’t go nowhere!” He played it that night in a coffeehouse and somebody told me recently that they had been to Minnesota and somebody was still playing that song, “Bonnie, Why’d You Cut My Hair?” It’s like a Minnesota classic! And so I’ve gone down in history!
This version of the song, we are told, was recorded in Bonnie Beecher’s bedroom. Here are the lyrics.
Bonnie why d'you cut my hair Bonnie why d'you cut my hair Bonnie why d'you cut my hair I can't go nowhere Sitting down all alone Sitting down all alone Ain't go no hair on my head Aint got enough to use a comb Is your hair Bonnie(Unclear lines) Hey hey ho
The song is noted in Heylin, as one of a group of three from this period, the others being “Talking Hugh Brown” and “Song to Bonny”. Heylin notes “Talkin” and “Cut my hair” as the “first originals to appear on tape from the post-Guthrie songwriter. Both appear to have been entirely improvised,” – which I comment upon a little in the review of “Hugh Brown”.
Heylin suggests that the reason for the trip to Hibbing was to ask his father for some extra money to keep Bob going as he tried to make a career for himself.
Bonny also got her own song – the next piece mentioned in Heylin’s “Revolution in the Air” is “Song to Bonny”
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 595 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