Hey little Richard: the earliest Dylan song of which we have a copy.

Text by Tony Attwood; research by Aaron Galbraith.

The song “Hey Little Richard” is listed in Heylin’s “Revolution in the Air” but it has only just popped up on You Tube – and my thanks as ever to Aaron for spotting it.

The song is listed by Heylin as the third Dylan composition of all time.  The first is “Song to Brigit,” which is included on the basis that Dylan mentioned it in 1961 as the “first song I ever wrote” (although he might have been stringing the interviewer along). The second was “Big Black Train” which had one verse published in Isis, and was put down by Heylin in his book as 1957/8.  That was apparently co-written with Monte Edwardson who was at school with Dylan.

Both of these are lost, if they actually did exist, so this is the first song of Dylan’s of which a recording exists.  According to Leroy Hoikkala, Dylan would “hear a song and make up his own version of it.  He did a lot of copying, but he also did a lot of writing of his own.  He would sit down and make up a song and play it a couple of times and then forget it.  I don’t know if he ever put any of them down on paper.”

However it appears that this recording was played on a BBC documentary about Dylan and “Highway 61 Revisited” in 1995, which gives it some credence of it being Dylan.

By way of review I am not sure much can be added – it is, as they say, what it is.   But it probably is Bob, playing around and having a bit of fun.   After that came “When I got troubles” which until now has been the first Dylan song on our chronological list.

Of course we have no evidence to suggest anything other than this is Dylan doing his stuff, and it is good enough for the BBC to accept it, it is good enough for us.  One more Dylan song for the chronology.

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  1. Little Richard in a two-storey house
    Hey Little Richard, poor Little Richard
    Little Richard’s gonna climb on out
    Hey Little Richard, poor Little Richard
    Little Richard’s gonna climb with me
    Hey Little Richard, poor Little Richard
    Little Richard is fine with me
    (Bob Dylan: Hey Little Richard)

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