Dylan’s once only file: You’re too late and the Old Rock n Roller

by Tony Attwood

(Videos replaced 28 August 2020)

This new series (of which this is the third instalment) takes in songs that Bob has performed once and only once on stage.

Two songs this time – first off “You’re too late” by Lefty Frizzell.

William Orville “Lefty” Frizzell was a songwriter and performer who was popular for ten years or so and had two major hits in 1950.  In this case he wrote the song with Herman P Willis, and Bob played it at Daytona Beach, FL, Jan 29, 1999.  There is a story that Hank Williams wrote this (see the album cover below) but I’m fairly sure this is a  Frizzell original.

Lefty Frizzell was one of those men who didn’t have a long career which brought him loads of money, but his influence was profound, with so many stars of the era citing his influence from Roy Orbison to the Everlys.  Tragically he faded from the public’s after ten years or so and he took to drink, dying aged 47.

But his impact on other singers in terms of how country music could be sung has outlasted him, and he is still remembered by those who have a particular knowledge of this type of music.

This is the original 1954 recording – as I say, forget the cover reproduced below.  Perhaps it got that way as Hank Williams and Lofty did tour together.

If I had someone that's true
It would thrill me through and through
I'd be happy oh so happy night and day
Seems each one has a perfect mate
But for me I'm always late
And it kills my soul to hear my sweetheart say

Too late too late you're too late
I have waited oh so long
But you never did come home
So just go on alone you're too late

I have built my castles high
Just to watch them fade and die
Makes me wonder if I really have a mate
But I'll keep looking o'er the hills
For someone and I always will
But maybe it's just my fate to be too late

Too late too late you're too late
When I search for heaven's door
I hope these words won't ring no more
And a voice say here's a gate but you're too late

His number 1 hit was “Give Me More, More, More (Of Your Kisses),” and Frizzell thereafter had personal problems, arguing a lot, spending the money and eventually falling out of favour.

The second choice this time is Old Rock n Roller performed by Bob on 3 July 1990.


He's just an old rock'n'roller playing music in a backstreet bar
And he sings a little flat and he never learned to play the guitar
But he keeps on belting out them rhythm and blues
"Long Tall Sally" and "Blue Suede Shoes"
He never faced the fact that he's never going to be a star
He's just an old rock 'n' roller playing music in a backstreet bar

He had a record in the sixties, it was big enough to go Top Ten
And though he tried and he tried he never could make it happen again
He's been living twenty years on bourbon and pride
Jerry Lee went crazy and Elvis died
Then his third wife left him but he never really thought it would last
And now she ain't nothing but another little blast from the past

But sometimes on a Saturday night when the music and the crowd is having fun
He steps up on the mike with a gleam in his eye
And once again he's twenty-one
And then it's "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and "Heartbreak Hotel"
And "That'll Be The Day"
Then the sweet bird of youth just flies away

He's an earthbound eagle that never did learn how to fly
He ain't never going to make it but he sure did give it a try
So go dye your hair and turn the music up loud
When it's time to go at least you'll go down proud
You ain't never going to be nothing but what you are
Just an old rock 'n' roller playing music in a backstreet bar

And here is the original…

Charlie Daniels was both a session musician and a composer, with his song “It Hurts Me” being recorded by Elvis Presley.

He was friends with Bob Johnston (1932 – 2015) hence the connection with Bob Dylan.  And thereafter he played guitar and bass on Dylan’s 1969 and 1970 recordings, as well as on Leonard Cohen records.  Thereafter he became a producer himself.

He reached the top 10 with “Uneasy rider” and also played violin on a number of albums.  He also had a hit in 1975 with the Charlie Daniels Band, “The South’s Gonna Do it Again, and won a Grammy for “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” which was another top 10 hit and was included in Urban Cowboy.

There is more, more and more – he wrote film scores, guest starred in TV shows, and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.  He died this year (2020) at the age of 83.

Dylan’s Once only file “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” “Blue Moon” “Weeping Willow”

Dylan’s “Once Only” File: 10,000 men and 20/20 Vision


Untold Dylan: who we are what we do

Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.

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