Western Road – Bob Dylan song number 602

By Tony Attwood

Thanks to Robert Ford for pointing out that in our excitement of reviewing 600 Bob Dylan songs, we completely missed this one.

“Western Road” appears on Travelin’ Thru Bootleg Series Vol.15 and sounds like an improvised extended 12 bar blues with lyrics invented by Bob Dylan as he goes along.  But as no one has said that a composition has to be written down for it to be a composition, so this counts as one, and takes us up to 602 Bob Dylan songs covered on this site.

If the song ever were to have been used it would have been on “Nashville Skyline” but I rather doubt anyone would have thought of taking this song for the LP, unless they were completely desperate. It is the sort of thing that any competent blues band could knock out at a drop of a hat.

It is a variation on Count Basie’s “Going to Chicago Blues” seemingly improvised on the spot.  Here is the Basie track, which actually I think has a lot more going for it than Dylan’s offering.  A sacrilegious thing to say, I know, but well, after 601 reviews, I’m allowed to say what I think.

There is no copy of Dylan’s recording that I can find on the internet and no one has transcribed the lyrics as far as I can find, so we now move onto the dangerous ground of a lyrics transcription by me.  Which means any similarity between what Dylan sings and what I write is purely coincidental.

With luck however Aaron or Larry or someone will correct my errors and we will eventually have a more accurate version.  I’ll replace this in due course.

Well I'm going to Chicago, going on the Western Road
Yes I'm going to Chicago, going on the Western Road
There are good times in Baltimore 
   but I've packed this heavy load

Might take a train I might take a plane 
But if I have to walk 
    I'll be going to Chicago just the same
I'm going to Chicago on the Western Road
There's bad times in Baltimore I can't take this load.

Instrumental break (extended 12 bar blues x 2)

Have you seen, have you seen, have you seen Miss Mary Anne?
Have you seen, have you seen, have you seen Miss Mary Anne?
Well I want to tell you that's one kind of woman, 
    who is missing her man.

Look down the street on Friday and found out she was gone 
I looked for her on Thursday but she has moved along
Miss Maggie Anne, has anybody seen Miss Maggie Anne?
Well let me tell you that's one woman, 
    One woman who's sure missing her man.

From my own limited and highly unsuccessful musical career I would say this was just the band having a bit of fun while waiting for the next proper song to come along.  Playing these 12 bar blues is enjoyable and does help the band to get together and keep together, and yes, just sometimes, something rather good comes out of such sessions.

In short, this is what recording and rehearsal sessions often sound like between the serious work of trying to get a new song right.

What else is on the site?

We have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 3600 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 

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site.  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 602 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

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, or indeed have an idea for a series of articles that the regular writers might want to have a go at, please do drop a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article to Tony@schools.co.uk

And please do note our friends at  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, plus links back to our reviews (which we do appreciate).

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2 Responses to Western Road – Bob Dylan song number 602

  1. jastour 2010 says:

    Wow, Miss Mary Ann is honored… without fun and humor is heavy to be creative in any group of people. I liked the enclosed upload for the article “Stoned in the mountain” with Bobby´s jamming with Eric Von Schmidt. It would be thrilling to hear the Mr. Dylan’s recording Western Road 🙂 Thank you Tony!

  2. TonyAttwood says:

    Jastour, Dylan’s recording is available on one of the Bootleg albums, or you can buy it from Amazon, which is what I did. It cost me 99p.

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