Bob Dylan’s once only file: B-Thang, Blue Bonnet Girl and Blue Monday

By Tony Attwood

In this series of articles I’m picking out a few of the songs that Bob has played just once in a live show, and then never returned to the song at all.  They are not coming out in a particular order, and I’m open to suggestions for performances that could be featured.  Otherwise I’m just selecting some of the songs I happen to like.

A list of the earlier articles in the series is given at the end.


In late August/early September of 1989, Dylan went through a stretch of opening shows with instrumentals. Three of these are suggested by some reviewers to be improvised by  Dylan and his band, and were given the names “B-Thang”, “E-Thang” and “G-Thang”.

This was played at Park City UT September 1, 1989

Now the few people who have bothered to mention this piece of music have tended to call the work “improvised” but I really don’t think it is – the chord changes do not follow a regular enough pattern, although the piece does move into a 12 bar variation mode after a while. But then there are once more some variations are there.  They are not extensive but enough to throw anyone who has not played along with Bob off the track.

Moving on, we have “Blue Bonnet Girl” which Bob performed on 1 November, 2000 in Bloomington, Indiana.

The tune was written in 1936 by Glenn Spencer for his brother Tim who performed with of the Sons of the Pioneers, and who recorded the best known version of the song.

Here is a Roy Rogers / Sons of  the Pioneers version.  I wonder if Bob came across this while watching a movie.

Now just one more for today which comes from 23 November 2005 at the Carling Academy Brixton, London: “Blue Monday” but this one is rather an important piece in the history of rock n roll.

It is also one of the songs for which there is a lot of false information around – SetList FM for example leading us to a song by Bill Monroe and  the Bluegrass Boys which is not what Dylan is performing at all.    Maybe they do that just to see if people like me simply cut and paste without checking.  But really, if I did that, what would be the point?

For as it happens I’m writing this little series, because I really do enjoy these pieces of music, and although a few take me by surprise, I do claim a bit of knowledge of the old songs largely because of my own ancientness.

And really it only takes a few moments to think on hearing Bob, “that surely is going to be a Fats Domino song”, and yes it is.   What’s more there are videos of the great innovator performing it…

Now when I say this is a Fats Domino song I don’t mean he wrote it – rather he recorded it, and gave it his trademark piano style and really made it famous.

But it was written in 1953 by Dave Bartholomew, who was the man who got Fats Domino’s career moving, and it was in fact first recorded that year by Smiley Lewis.  Fats Domino got hold of the song in 1956 and from then on the song was credited to both Bartholomew and Domino – which seems a bit generous by Bartholomew, but I am sure he knew how to keep an artist happy.

Indeed Dave Bartholomew was no slouch when it came to songwriting, and this was not just a one off hit for he also wrote  “I Hear You Knocking”, “Blue Monday”, “I’m Walkin'”, “My Ding-A-Ling”, and “One Night” – the last for Elvis Presley.

Here is the original of Blue Monday…

But it was Fats Domino’s version that turned up in the 1956 movie “The Girl Can’t Help It” – one of the early rock n roll movies that made legislators get twitchy and suggest that rock n roll music should be banned as immoral.

It really is one of the classics of rock n roll.

And please don’t forget we have this series on our You Tube channel Dylan’s once only file: the concert. 

Dylan’s once only file: earlier editions

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  1. i love this series! these are great pieces…

    i have some suggestions which i will mail over to you forthwith!

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

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