One for the road, Bob Dylan remembers Fred Astaire and one of the greatest ever dance routines.

by Tony Attwood

This is yet another Basement song with no information on the official site – it’s never been played by Dylan, and has no official lyrics.  Indeed the inestimable Eyolf Østrem comments that,  “The lyrics seem to be nonsense and exist only to fill in for what would be the real words, if they ever existed.”

But at least we know about the title, especially with Dylan’s interest in movies throughout the ages.

This comes from the movie, “The Sky’s the Limit” made in 1943.   There’s a link below and I can say that having spent my life dancing I sit here thinking oh if only I had been able to dance 2% of that without a slip…   Although some of the choreography I worked on in my time in the theatre ended up in accidents a bit like this.  (And I wonder did they actually have any insurance for the leap onto the bar stool?).

That song contains these lines

We’re drinking my friend, to the end
Of a brief episode
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road
I know the routine, put another nickel
In the machine
I feel kind of bad, can’t you make the music
Easy and sad

As for Dylan, I suddenly had the silly idea that he’s halfway between “One more cup of coffee” and “On the road again” with this song.   As Heylin put it, it is part of a set of “Snapshots from an ongoing process,” so you never know.

Here’s where Bob got to…

This bottle is dried up too
And I’ll be all cried up soon
I can’t see no God on the moon
It’s a long way to go

In a mawkish sort of 1950s way it is a decent song, although Dylan sounds throughout as if he is singing a couple of tones too high for comfort in the chorus.  But then he is right at the bottom of his range in the verses – which is perhaps why he abandoned the piece.  With his range it was just on unsingable.

But I can’t leave this without going back to the opening Fred Astaire line in the extract above, “I’m just walking a tightrope between somewhere and somewhere else.”  Dylan brings that feeling across too.   Whether he consciously remembered the song, whether he had seen the movie, or whether the title was just there at the back of his mind, it is an interesting thought.

I just like to take it on to imagine that Bob had indeed seen the movie, and remembered the song.  Certainly Frank Sinatra recorded the song half a dozen times, which makes me think Bob did know it.  (One Sinatra version was actually used in Blade Runner – and it turns up in all sorts of other places too. If you are familiar with the phrase “Set em up Joe” that comes from here).

And it turned up in loads of other movies, plus everyone around seems to have recorded it.  It is just one of those songs.

Dylan takes it somewhere different, and leaves us with a feeling of what might have been.  It wasn’t, but we can’t begrudge him that.  He has, after all, given us a lot of other things to enjoy.

What else is on the site

1: Over 400 reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order on the home page, and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.

2: The Chronology.  We’ve taken all the songs we can find recordings of and put them in the order they were written (as far as possible) not in the order they appeared on albums.  The chronology is more or less complete and is now linked to all the reviews on the site.  We have also recently started to produce overviews of Dylan’s work year by year.     The index to the chronologies is here.

3: Bob Dylan’s themes.  We publish a wide range of articles about Bob Dylan and his compositions.  There is an index here.

4:   The Discussion Group    We now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

5:  Bob Dylan’s creativity.   We’re fascinated in taking the study of Dylan’s creative approach further.  The index is in Dylan’s Creativity.

6: You might also like: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews






  1. James I haven’t heard that but that doesn’t say much – I don’t really have a handle on the news. the Expecting Rain is probably a better place to find such matters. But he has been touring solidly so surely it can’t have started yet.

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