Dylan Lost album track nine: Sidewalks fences and walls

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.

So we decided to see if we could compile a better album ourselves from the outtakes and live shows from the period which you never know, might one day turn up on the Bootleg series.

For the penultimate track on the vinyl edition of “Sheep In Wolves Clothing” we had initially chosen Dylan’s cover of “The Usual”, which had already been released on the Hearts Of Fire Soundtrack and as a single. We wanted a “big” moment at this point in the record. But then we went back through the tapes and came across this one, which we had forgotten about or missed entirely during our initially pass. So, much like the original Down In The Groove album, The Usual was binned from the running order right at the last minute!

It was replaced by this tremendous version of “Sidewalks, Fences And Walls”.

 

This certainly provides the “big” moment we were looking for towards the end of the album. It may well be the best track and performance we’ve uncovered so far. Why this wasn’t on the original album is anyone’s guess! The track starts out tentatively enough but really builds towards the middle and by the end Dylan is in full voice and the band is driving towards the finish line with everything they’ve got. A wonderful performance, reminiscent of the Bootleg Vol 1-3 Version Of “When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky”.

As for the song itself, it was written by Jerry Williams and first recorded by Freddie North In 1971, but the version Dylan would have known was by Solomon Burke and was released in 1979, after all Bob sings the line as “Solomon loves Mary”,

 

Dylan is a self-proclaimed Solomon Burke fanatic, he once described him as “a mighty, mighty man, a mammoth talent…”. Bob  gifted him his song “Stepchild” and Burke again covered Bob on a number of occasions, including “The Mighty Quinn”, “Maggie’s Farm” and “What Good Am I?”.

 

Dylan’s Verizon Of “Sidewalks…” should have been on “Down In The Groove”. This new/old album gives us the chance to rectify that mistake.

The lyrics:

Little crooked heart
Drawn in chalk
On an old brick wall
Started writing in the heart
Told one and all
“Solomon loves Mary”
On sidewalks, fences, and walls

Now the rain that fell
Washed away those hearts in a childish scrawl
But the love that came from those hearts
Was big when we were small
And I wrote my love letters
On sidewalks, fences, and walls

Got chalk on my fingers
Got chalk on my hands
But somebody wrote across my heart a love so grand
So grand, so grand, so grand

Now I write my letters
With a fancy pen
But my mind goes back to chalk
Every now and again
“Solomon loves Mary”
Came straight from my heart
But just like all the other kids
One day we had to part

Now Mary’s married to Billy
But I can recall
“Solomon loves Mary”
“Solomon loves Mary”
“Solomon loves Mary”
On sidewalks, fences, and walls

Yesterday I walked by there
To reminisce again
I saw a child that looked like Mary
My childhood friend
She was writing a letter, a love letter
To the boy of her dreams
Just then her mother walked by
I knew her but she didn’t know me
I stood there in a daze
My mind looked beauty in the face
“Solomon loves Mary”
“Solomon loves Mary”
“Solomon loves Mary”
On sidewalks, fences, and walls
Sidewalks, fences, and walls
Sidewalks, fences, and walls
Sidewalks, fences, and walls
Sidewalks, fences, and walls…

The lost Dylan album – the tracks so far

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3 Responses to Dylan Lost album track nine: Sidewalks fences and walls

  1. Tim Roach says:

    Hauntingly beautiful performance as if there is only an audience of one. The old lady still sweeping the floor back on “Sweetheart Like You”.

  2. Tim Roach says:

    What a timeless song choose. Who amongst us haven’t scrawled our first undying statement of True or Unrequited Love ,even if we were only five, in our own hometown.

  3. We are actively promoting a link to this interesting topic on The Bob Dylan Project at:
    https://thebobdylanproject.com/Song/id/3230/Sidewalks-Fences-and-Walls

    If you are interested, we are a portal to all the great information related to this topic.

    Join us inside Bob Dylan Music Box.

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