The final sideman: the last selection of Dylan helping out his friends

by Aaron Galbraith

This is the last in the series examining Dylan’s work as a session man for hire.  There are rumours of course of other Dylan sessions playing with his friends … is that Bob on harmonica on George Harrison’s delightful b-side “Miss O’Dell”? ( lists Harrison as the harmonica player but I’ve never seen or heard him play it before or since).

I’ve also seen a rumour that Bob might be playing guitar on Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s cover of “Man In The Long Black Coat” (almost certainly not…because, why?).

So here we have the final four tracks to take a listen to.

First up, it’s another track backing up Barry Goldberg. This one remains unreleased but you can give it a listen here. It’s a cover of “Hi Heel Sneakers” with Bob pounding away on piano, recorded in 1971.

Then in 1977 during a session for Leonard Cohen’s “Death Of A Ladies Man”, who should turn up but Dylan with Allen Ginsberg in tow. Phil Spector, who produced the album, persuaded Dylan and Ginsberg to get behind the mike and provide backing vocals on the raucously silly track “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-on”.


It’s ironic that the only time the two greatest lyricists of all time should appear on a track with lyrics like this

Ah but don't go home with your hard-on
It will only drive you insane
You can't shake it (or break it) with your Motown
You can't melt it down in the rain

Next up are two tracks Bob recorded with Steve Goodman in 1973. First up is the title track to the Somebody Else’s Trouble album. Bob provides piano and backing vocals.

The last track is the (currently) very appropriate “Election Year Rag”. This was an outtake from the album sessions and was released as a single in 1976. In fact, there are several versions of the track, so to find the one with Bob you need to get the original single, which rather helpfully informs us on the cover “with Bob Dylan on piano”. He also provides harmony vocals.


Well, don't you cry, don't shed no tears,
You know it only comes around every four years,
And I am your dark horse and you're my nag,
Do that Election Year Rag.

If you feel like you need a score card,
Well, you really don't have to fuss.
You know the winner's always somebody else
And the loser is always us.

Previously in this series…


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