I’d have you anytime. Bob Dylan and George Harrison exchange friendship bands

By Tony Attwood

The story is that Bob Dylan gave George Harrison more expansive and inventive lyrics, while George Harrison gave Bob Dylan new chords to play with.

The story, like so many in popular culture, doesn’t exactly stack up – one only has to to listen to the experiments going on, on the Dylan “hotel tapes” in 1966, to recognise that of course Dylan knew his way around all those major sevenths and diminished chords much earlier than that – from the start he was an accomplished musician who often just chose to focus on the standard chords of folk.  Just listen to the implied chords created by the descending bass in the verses of “It’s Alright Ma”.

And in fact in George Harrison’s autobiography he writes that Dylan was “saying show me some chords.  How do you get those tunes?”  Dylan’s question in fact was about putting melodies on top of chords that he already knew perfectly well, not one about not knowing the chords in the first place.  (Even I bought the book of 1000 guitar chords when I was 13.  Everyone had one of those at this time – aspiring guitarists probably still do).

My thought (and I might be proven wrong on this if someone can find an example otherwise) is that although Dylan knew all these chords he rarely if ever used them on the piano, an instrument he is far less adept at playing than the guitar.  Now that is important because it is much easier on the piano to change the chord around and put a different note at the top, in order to help evolve a melody, than it is on the guitar.

Harrison, my guess is, could overcome this because he was a natural singer, a natural harmoniser (often putting his own harmonies onto his solo recordings – some Dylan would never ever do), and so a person who could hear the breakdown of the chord as a potential starting point for a melody.  Those of us who play the piano, but don’t have the melodic talent of Harrison, work it out on the piano.

Thus in melodies Bob loses out both ways – he has never had the automatic ability to make harmonies with his voice, and he is not a natural pianist.  Of course that doesn’t mean he can’t write melodies – to say that would be nonsense.  But his absolute foremost strength is in the lyrics and in that brief comment he was looking to overcome his temporary writers’ block and move on in a new way.

So in that conversation each musician was seeking to understand the other’s greatest ability. In the rest of the conversation as reported by Harrison he says, “come on write some words” and Bob came up with the absolutely boundless, all encompassing simplicity of

All I have is yours
All you see is mine
And I’m glad to hold you in my arms
I’d have you anytime.

As a personal aside, I was never a fan of the Beatles and never bought their albums or singles, but was drawn to the “All things must pass” album of Harrison, and I still have the LPs in the original box at home.  I actually didn’t know Dylan co-wrote it (there were other things on my mind in 1970, having just left home and moved to London) until much, much later, although I was a committed Dylan fan from the release of Freewheelin onwards.

As it is I haven’t played the album for years – until today – and the only bit of it I could immediately remember when starting to think about it for this review were those “All I have is yours” lines.  Without the extra interest of knowing they were Dylan lines, they had stuck with me all through the decades.  Bob does that to me.

The song was written at Bob’s house near Woodstock – and we should note was probably written in the early part of 1969 when Bob was struggling to get the compositional urge moving again, having only written one song the previous year (Lay Lady Lay).

According to one review, “The song reflects the environment in which it was written, as Harrison’s verses urge the shy and elusive Dylan to let down his guard, and the Dylan-composed choruses respond with a message of welcome.”  Maybe so.  It seems a nice thought.

Harrison’s recording has Eric Clapton on lead guitar and Phil Spector as co-producer.  With Bob as a co-writer on this song it seemed to have everything – although other than those lines of Bob, as I started to gather my thoughts on writing this review, the only other song from the album that I could eventually conjure up before I dug the box set out and put it on the turntable was “Beware of Darkness” – which again probably reflects where I was in 1970.  Having just played it for the first time in a couple of decades my spine is still tingling in a way that isn’t exactly what I like to experience these days….

Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly
Beware of Maya

Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night

But back to the main purpose of today’s ramble…

There is another Harrison version of the song on this demo album

It starts at around 5 minutes 30 seconds.   

And of course there is also his version of  “If not for you” on the Harrison “All things” album.

All Things Must Pass, was released on Apple Records in November 1970.  Was it really almost 50 years ago?  Maybe I’m excused not remembering the rest of it.

Here are the lyrics…

Let me in here, I know I’ve been here
Let me into your heart
Let me know you, let me show you
Let me roll it to you
All I have is yours
All you see is mine
And I’m glad to have you in my arms
I’d have you any time


Let me say it, let me play it
Let me lay it on you
Let me know you, let me show you
Let me grow it on you
All I have is yours
All you see is mine
And I’m glad to have you in my arms
I’d have you any time

Let me in here, I know I’ve been here
Let me into your heart
Let me know you, let me show you
Let me roll it to you
All I have is yours
All you see is mine
And I’m glad to have you in my arms
I’d have you any time

Think there’s something missing or wrong with this review?

You are of course always welcome to write a comment below, but if you’d like to go further, you could write an alternative review – we’ve already published quite a few of these.  We try to avoid publishing reviews and comments that are rude or just criticisms of what is written elsewhere – but if you have a positive take on this song or any other Dylan song, and would like it considered for publication, please do email Tony@schools.co.uk

What else is on the site

1: Over 490 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 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 produced 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 our articles on various writers’ lists of Dylan’s ten greatest songs.

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

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to I’d have you anytime. Bob Dylan and George Harrison exchange friendship bands

  1. Alan says:

    Never bought A Beatles LP?
    I give up on your ‘opinions’.

  2. TonyAttwood says:

    Alan: what an extraordinary thing to say especially when you don’t know why I didn’t buy any Beatles albums.

  3. Donald Cooney says:

    Tony: I believe you underrate Dylan’s prowess on the piano. I recall an interview with Al Kooper after the release of “New Morning” and one of his goals as producer of this enjoyable album was too highlight Dylan’s piano work which he greatly admired.

  4. Johanna-Hypatia says:

    I guess the one time Dylan harmonized with himself was on “The Boxer,” where he approximated both Garfunkel and Simon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *