Dylan’s lost album, track 4: “Important Words”

By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

Just recently we’ve been engaged in a project listening back to some of the outtakes from the 1986 and 1987 sessions that produced the majority of Bob Dylan’s “Down In The Groove” album, as well as some of the live shows from the era.

And between us we reached the conclusion that, as many people said at the time, the album is, to be fair, not very good. Robert Christgau called the album “horrendous product”.

So we decided to see if we could compile a better album ourselves from the outtakes and live shows from the period. Just in case the guys upstairs fancy issuing a new version when they run out of materials for the Bootleg series.  (Full acknowledgement to Untold Dylan would be nice too – how about “Musical consultants”?  That would do it).

Thus we are re-creating Bob Dylan’s Lost Album and it is called “Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing”.   So far we have got

The song we’ve chosen for track 4 of “Sheep In Wolves’ Clothing” is Dylan’s cover of Gene Vincent’s “Important Words”.

Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps originally released the track in 1956 as the b-side to the “Crazy Legs” single.

In fact Crazy Legs was a song that lived on for a long time, as the title was ultimately used as the name of a studio album by Jeff Beck in 1993 – an album of Gene Vincent songs.

Gene Vincent was born in 1935 and died in 1971 and is remembered as one of the pioneers of rock n roll and particularly of what became known as rockabilly.  His 1956 worldwide hit Be Bop a Lula is often cited as the start of the popularity of rockabilly.

And indeed we really can’t let an opportunity like this pass by (just in case you have no idea what we are talking about).  Here it is…

Now here is Dylan’s take on “Important Words” which we are making the fourth track of the lost album…

The track was actually originally included on early promo copies of the album, when it was still known as “Sheep In Wolves Clothing”. It was eventually replaced with “Had A Dream About You, Baby”.

It’s easy to see why the track was dropped from the finalized album, the album already had its fair share of crooner ballads such as “When Did You Leave Heaven” and “Shenandoah”. Therefore, excellent tracks like “Important Words” and “Just When I Needed You Most” were dropped to make way for more rock n roll numbers. Which was unfortunate as they are fine performances and deserve to be heard.

At the time Dylan had mentioned in interviews his desire to make an album of romantic ballads, and repeatedly mentioned artists like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. He also performed songs such as “All My Tomorrows” and “We Three” in concert during these years. Maybe he should have followed through with this idea after all.

Here are the lyrics

Important words
That mean a lot
They say, say
I love you

Important words
That’s all I’ve got
They say, say
I love you

The days, the nights, the hours
We spent makin’ plans
Have made both of us feel the same
Since we first held hands…

Important words
They say I love you
They say, say
I do

(Important words)
That say I love you
They say, say
I do

This really is a fine performance by Bob Dylan, and it is desperately sad that it was lost as the album was recreated and the original concept was chopped away.  Bob’s voice is in particularly fine form, and this recording deserves to be better known than it now is.

What else is on the site?

We have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 4200 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 the 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 Dylan’s lost album, track 4: “Important Words”

  1. Larry fyffe says:

    If there room left over on the record, a suggestion:

    Doo wah doo wah, doowaah
    You said you’d ask me
    To the senior prom
    Found out that I had acne
    Now you won’t ask me
    (Bob Dylan And Rambling Jack Eliott)

  2. Larry fyffe says:

    ‘We Three’ by Robertson, Mysels, and Cogane is sung both by Frank Sinatra and the Ink Spots.

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