Walk out in the rain: the start of Bob Dylan’s second collaborative period

By Tony Attwood

Uncharted territory here – before tackling the “1978” section of the Chronology on this site I didn’t have any ideas about this song, and there is precious little from other commentators around.

I have two recordings of the song – both are by Eric Clapton and both are linked below.  One is a very rough on stage recording, but it reveals the possibilities the other is a much clearer version from “Backless” which reveals more of a most interesting melody line.

After three plays I can begin to understand what Clapton saw in the song, but the lyrics really are fairly ordinary.  It is the bounce of the song that must have made Dylan consider it for Street Legal – but ultimately it was an outtake.

In terms of chords there are no unexpected changes – it is a simple three chord song – and this fits with Helena Springs reporting of the writing of the songs – they were just playing around – Dylan would strum the guitar and she’d just make up lyrics and then they’d spend a bit of time refining the song.

The reporting is that the couple wrote a couple of songs on the first night in Australia, and that Dylan was encouraged to try out the idea after the work with Jacques Levy.

Heylin reports a story which suggests that Clapton played his finished version of the song and Dylan took it to be a demo version, but I suspect this is an apocryphal story.  It would be hard to mishear the studio version as unfinished.

Here are the opening three verses.

Walk out if it doesn’t feel right
I can tell you’re only lying
If you’ve got something better tonight
Then don’t mess up my mind with your crying

Just walk out in the rain
Walk out with your dreams
Walk out of my life if you don’t feel right
And catch the next train
Oh, darling, walk out in the rain

I have come from so far away
Just to put a ring on your finger
If you’ve said all that you’ve got to say
Then please don’t feel the need to linger

Just walk out in the rain
Walk out with your dreams
Walk out of my life if you don’t feel right
And catch the next train
Oh, darling, walk out in the rain, in the rain

It’s raining outside of the city
My poor feet have walked till they’re sore
If you don’t want my love, it’s a pity
I guess I can’t see you no more

… you get the idea.

Clapton has an interesting take on Dylan, finding some of the less well known songs by and large for his albums…

– Sign Language (No Reason To Cry – 1976)
– Walk Out In The Rain (Backless – 1978)
– If I Don’t Be There By Morning (Backless – 1978)
– Born In Time (Pilgrim – 1998)

Here’s the album version

And here’s the live version

It’s not a great song in my view, but it is nonetheless a memorable, interesting and jaunty tune which seems to fit in with the rest of Street Legal.  I’m glad I’m doing these reviews as I wouldn’t have found the song had I not gone looking, and it is an enjoyable piece.

If like me you didn’t know the piece before, I hope you find the exercise of interest.


  1. Dave Gursom is absolutely right. This song came into my life through a recording from the dawn of the 1990s by cult-favorite pop punk band the Groovie Ghoulies (and their version sounds nothing like Ann Christy’s or Clapton’s – not just in instrumentation but in every single aspect of arrangement outside of still maintaining the verse/chorus structure), and it all came full circle a couple nights ago when I saw their frontman (Kepi Ghoulie) play a solo version of it impromptu upon request. Absolutely wonderful moment. Hope one day a Dylan outtake from ‘Street Legal’ surfaces; that’s the holy grail at this point for such a simple, sweet song.

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