I’m guilty of loving you: Dylan’s unfinished lament and a link to the inspiration

By Tony Attwood

Updated: 4 May 2018

As you will see from the comments below, it has been pointed out that this song by Dylan is in fact a re-write of “I stand accused” by Billy Butler, a song that has been recorded by many different artists including Percy Sledge, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, King Curtis and many more.

In writing this review I completely missed this, my excuse being I am not an aficionado of this type of music and simply didn’t make the link.

Listening to Bob’s version on the Basement Tapes, I don’t think he was any more aware that he was, what shall I say, “evolving” that original song, than he was that one day the world would be listening to these long lost recordings.  He was, as one can hear, playing with ideas and exploring themes.  I suspect that if he had continued with this song then at some time, someone would have come along and said, “hey Bob isn’t that a bit like ‘I stand accused?’ – if anyone has the nerve to do that.   (I mean, how do you go up to the greatest songwriter of the late 20th century and say “Errr, sorry to bother you but you nicked that one”.

Below is my review, written before the link with “I stand accused”, along with a newly added link to that song.  Sorry I can’t link to Bob’s version because the record company are not allowing any posts of the song, and it is not licensed to Spotify.

Original notes

“I’m guilty of loving you” appears on disc one of the Complete Basement Tapes collection.  It is a slowly rocking lament which gently moves between the chords of A and D before rounding off the verse with an F# to E.

We get one and a half verses sung before Bob runs out of lyrics and suddenly the tape stops.  I’m notoriously awful at transcribing Bob’s lyrics but the best I can get is

But I can’t forget
and I find myself all over this place
Darling I do all over the ???
Hey I’m guilty I’m guilty of loving you
Hey hey I’m guilty of loving you
Oh what can I do?

Now that is not much of a basis for me to say that there is actually a rather good song emerging here.  The music isn’t that original, nor is the sentiment, nor the lyrics, and yet, I am utterly sure that Bob could have turned it into a song that we would then have valued as part of his archive.  Not necessarily a great virtuoso Dylan performance but still something worth keeping.

The reason I say that is because if one were to take the first minute or so of many of Bob’s songs, and listen to the very first recording, one can be left with the same feeling.  There’s something there, but I’m not sure what.

What Dylan seems to do is start with these scraps of ideas, and then suddenly something else snaps into place, the lyrics take an unexpected turn, there is a chord change that you would never imagine from what occurs at the start and we’ve got far more than just a scrap of a tune.

Indeed in these days in the second decade of the 21st century when Bob is seemingly in a permanent non-writing phase of life, I wonder if someone close to him couldn’t have the temerity to say, “you know all that stuff on the complete Basement Tapes that has now been released.  Why don’t you give the fans a surprise and complete one of the incomplete songs.”

And from that I thought, hell, why doesn’t someone else do this?

I mean to say, Bob gave his permission for Champaign Illinois to be released  and that is a re-write of Desolation Row.  And what about Rock Me Mama which became Wagon Wheel.  Or come to that Well Well Well.

All it needs is someone with the combination of nerve and songwriting skill, and the willingness to accept that one might never get a reply at all…

In the meanwhile, we have this little part of a song, that really could become something more…

Now moving back to “I Stand Accused” by Jerry Butler here are the lyrics

I stand accused.
Of lovin’ you,
Too much.

And i hope,
I hope it’s not a crime.
‘Cause if it is,
I’m guilty,
Of lovin’ you, you, you.

Oh yeah, mmm hmm.

I – I hope to God that I,
Never have,
To Testify.
‘Cause if I do,
Everyone is gonna, they’re gonna cry,
They’re gonna say,

And here is the link to I Stand Accused…


What else is on the site

You’ll find an index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to the 500+ songs reviewed is now on a new page of its own.  You will find it here.

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

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. If you listen to ‘Highlands’, on ‘Time Out of Mind’, it would be easy to conclude that Dylan is not intending to write anymore. As Neil Young said, ‘Even Dylan doesn’t know what he is going to do next. So, we will see.

  2. Dylan didn’t finish this song because it’s actually a cover: I Stand Accused by Jerry Butler.

  3. Thanks Ronald. I see what you mean. I am not sure it is actually a cover, rather I think it was in the back of Bob’s mind when he wrote “I’m guilty”. I’ve added a link to “I stand accused” and a note taking up your point at the start. Thank you again for pointing this out.

  4. No problem. I should point out too that the name is JERRY Butler, not Billy Butler 🙂

  5. not a comment:

    the link to “Desolation Row Revisited” doesn’t work properly, at least on this side of the Atlantic 🙂 .

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