Dylan’s once only file: I defy you not to play this song twice. Or more.

by Tony Attwood

In the “once only” file I am trying to find recordings of songs that Bob has played only once, but which absolutely stand out to me as amazing, set alongside other one-off performances that all have something to mark themselves out, and make us wonder why Bob only played this once.

Today, I have got one that I think is utterly stunning and remarkable, but I’m going to keep you waiting (unless you flip down to the end to see what it is – but you know that would be cheating.)

So, since you are still here at the top, here is the first…

We’d better talk this over: Sun Theatre, Anaheim, CA (March 10, 2000)

This unique performance has already been covered on Untold, in an article by Jochen in 2018, but I really adore this, it fits into the demands of this series (that Bob only played it once) and it incorporates all the oddities of Bob’s decision making.  So here it is again.

I think it is truly wonderful that Bob will work on songs like this, and then develop a changed arrangement … but then to stop and leave the song forever.  Of course we only get to hear it once, and the band will have played it a number of times in rehearsal, but even so.   Thank goodness it was recorded.  It is so worth coming back to.

When you gonna wake up.

Inevitably in searching through these songs that have only been played once, sometimes all is not as clear as it might seem.   Take “When you gonna wake up”.

SetList FM has this listed as from Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, NYOctober 20, 1989

But several youtube lists have it as Oslo, Norway – July 9, 1981.  The song was written in 1979, Bob’s faith year.  I’d go for 1981 just on that basis; that later date can’t be right can it?

I mention the disparity of dates not to point out that someone has made a mistake, but really to say that errors occur time and again in writing about Dylan – and I know I’ve added to the list of false information (although not deliberately I hasten to add).  In a sense that is why this site has its list of songs in Chronological Order of writing – simply because previous attempts had been incomplete and self-evidently wrong in places.  (See the headings under the picture at the top of the page – “Dylan songs of the 1970s” etc etc).

Walk a mile in my shoes

Staying with the songs starting with “W” (OK that is a rather feeble link, but I couldn’t think of anything else) another little curiosity comes with “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”, in that Bob chose to open with it, on 12 January 1990 he opened with this Joe South song at  Toad’s Place, New Haven, CT.  According to the records he played four sets at that venue, with 50 different songs involved but this got just one outing.

Here is Joe South – this recording cuts suddenly near the end, but it is the best I can find.

He won a Grammy for “Games People Play” and was nominated also for “Rose Garden.”  His first hit was in July 1958 with “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor” (honest!) and he also wrote for Gene Vincent, as well as playing guitar on hits such as “Sheila” by Tommy Roe.

But we know him best for playing bass on Blonde on Blonde, and guitar on the “Sounds of Silence” album.   “Walk a mile in my shoes” was also performed by Elvis Presley.  Joe South died of heart failure in 2012, aged 72.

Here’s Bob’s take…

A satisfied mind

Now something more sombre to finish with a Satisfied Mind, a song that starts with “How many…” and always makes me think of “Times they are a-changing.”

This is one of those songs that I seem always to have known – I must have heard it as a youngster, and certainly looking through the lists it seems that over 50 well known artists have recorded it.

Yet Joe “Red” Hayes was not a songwriter as such.  He played fiddle with Jack Rhodes and wrote a number of songs, but nothing else that has remained popular.  He died tragically young aged 72 in 2012, and as far as I know this is the one song of his that is remembered.

Here’s his version from 12 January 1990.

Bob played it on at 9 November 1999 at the  The Apollo of Temple, Philadelphia, PA, USA and you’ll hear immediately that this is a complete re-working of the song.   Personally I love this re-arrangement; for me the original is take at far too much of a rush to make the most of the lyrics.

This is one of those occasions where Bob really takes the lyrics and gives them everything, making the music weave its way around the words, rather than fitting words  to the tune.

It is such a beautiful rendition of the song it makes me wonder how he can just do this and then leave the song behind.  More and more I am thinking that I’d like to create an album called “Abandoned songs”.  Now that Aaron has our YouTube channel running (Untold Dylan: The Youtube channel) it could be put on there alongside the Play Lady Play articles and my other little creation “1980”.   (To the guys at the record company who arrange the Bootleg albums – when you put the album “Once only Bob” out and credit me with the idea, it’s double-T in my surname please).

But seriously – just play this and listen.  I defy you not to play it twice.


Dylan’s once only file.

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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One comment

  1. Dylan’s Once Only File – YouTube Playlist created….and its great!!!

    I’ll add to it as these articles are published…lovely series!

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