Once or twice: The girl on the Greenbriar Shore – complete with a video


I don’t know what it means either: an index to the current series appearing on this website.

This article is the start of what might be a new series on songs Dylan only performed live once or twice.

By Tony Attwood

We have naturally focussed – and indeed we continue to focus – on songs that Dylan has performed a lot on stage, noting particularly how he has changed the performances of the songs over time.  (See for example the most comprehensive review –  The Never Ending Tour series and the occasional The Never Ending Tour Extended series where songs are tracked over time.

But in conversation the notion arose that we could do some more work on the songs that Bob has only performed once or twice.   What makes him learn, rehearse and perform a song, only to drop it immediately – or maybe almost immediately?

Several ideas came up as to why this could happen: that it was worth a try but didn’t work, that a member of the band or entourage suggested it and Bob obliged, that he did it as a tribute… but in reality we don’t know much of the time (although if you know please do write in).  Or that the song brought back painful memories.

Anyway, it was decided that we might look at a few songs Bob has just performed once or twice, the only restriction we put on this being that we can lay hands on a recording of Bob’s performance.   It was left to me to start the series and for no particular reason I chose “The Girl from the Greenbriar Shore” which turned up on Tell Tale Signs.

There is nothing surprising with that recording, and you probably know it and have it already.  But please don’t give up on this just yet.

The song was recorded by the Carter Family in 1941 and it is quite possible that this was where Bob first heard this.

It’s a simple tale of leaving home…

Was in the year of '92
In the merry month of June
I left my mother and a home so dear
For the girl I loved on the green-briar shore

So he leaves his mother, off he goes, gets married… but it doesn’t work out….

The years rolled on and the months rolled by
She left me all alone
Now I remember what mother said
"Never trust a girl on the green briar shore"

And of course it is a song that has been performed multiple times as the revival of America’s own traditional folk music evolved….

But what we have below however is a video of Bob singing this song at a gig and what is so interesting apart from the fact that we have the video, is what Bob says at the end.  This comes from from Göteborg, Sweden, 6/28/1992.
And what Bob says at the end is, “Thanks everybody! That was the story of my life. Things always get better though.”

Dylan only performed this song twice and this recording is different than the one which appears on The Genuine Never Ending Tour Covers Collection 1988-2000. The other performance took place two days later in Dunkerque, France and was officially released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs.

At least I think that is how the story pans out.   If you any different information please do say, and if possible where the info comes from.    But I would say even if the issue can’t be resolved fully, it is still a great recording,

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