Why does Dylan like Tim Hardin, Baltimore and Confidential?

by Tony Attwood

There are over 40 previous articles in the “Why does Dylan like” series and they are indexed here.

“Lady came from Baltimore” has been on my list of Dylan rarities to write about for some time, but for me it comes with baggage.  Nothing personal at all, but simply the tragedy of an oh so talented composer.

In my youth I loved the music of Tim Hardin – his first album had “Reason to Believe” as the opener on side two, and when I started to perform in folk clubs some years later I always sang this.  It simply was the type of song I always wanted to be able to write – something so clear and simple and yet so magical – but at the same time musically it just is so different from everything else in the repertoire.

Indeed it is one of the most powerful short songs I have ever come across – how he puts across so much in such a short song is completely beyond me.  Although that unexpected chord change at the start of line three has a lot to do with it.

If I listen long enough to you
I'd find a way to believe that it's all true
Knowing, that you lied, straight-faced
While I cried 
But still I'd look to find a reason to believe...
Someone like you makes it hard to live
Without, somebody else
Someone like you, makes it easy to give
Never think of myself

If I gave you time to change my mind 
I'd find a way to leave the past behind
Knowing that you lied, straight-faced
While I cried
But still I'd look to find a reason to believe...

If I listen long enough to you
I'd find a way to believe it's all true
Knowing that you lied, straight-faced
While I cried
Still I'd look to find a reason to believe...

Tim Hardin’s second album included his song, “If I Were a Carpenter” which surely everyone knows, and also therein is “Lady came from Baltimore”.

According to Dick Weissman’s book, “Which side are you on?: an inside history of the folk music revival in America” the song was written about his courtship and marriage to actress Susan Morss.

According to Bob Dylan Tour stats Bob performed this song twice on 6 and 13 April 1994.

It is a beautiful and delicate song, just like so many of Tim Hardin’s pieces.

Here is Tim Hardin

Tragically Tim Hardin died of a heroin overdose on 29 December 1980.  Here’s Reason to Believe.  It still after all these years has that same emotional pull…

Now to help me recover, something utterly different.  Trail of the buffalo

Bob played this 43 times in in 1991 and 1992.   It has of course turned up in many forms including with the name “The Buffalo Skinners” and “The Hills of Mexico”, telling the tale of a buffalo hunt in 1893 – or perhaps it was 1873.

As for why Bob likes this, apart from it being a reflection of a core part of American history, and the song allows the singer to deliver a full-on solo, without it sounding like anything else.

And moving on to the final selection…  Confidential.

Confidential was played 12 times by Dylan between 1989 and 1995.  It was written by Dorlinda Morgan in 1955, by which time she had been writing songs for some 25 years with tracks recorded by Ray Charles, Louis Jordan, and many others.  Dorlinda Morgan passed away in 1988.

This song was Sonny Knight’s biggest hit although he is noting for also writing The Day the Music Died, under his real name Joseph Coleman Smith a fictionalised account of racism in the American music business in the 1950s.

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