Two dollars and 99 cents: Bob Dylan does the barroom blues. And how.

By Tony Attwood

This review marks the start of the final leg of our journey through reviewing every Dylan song of which we can find a recording.

These final reviews come from Disc Six of the Complete Basement Tapes collection – separated out into a disc of their own seemingly without much sense of a chronological order.  These songs are grouped together because of their perceived poor quality, not because of anything else although the style and approach makes me think they did all come from around the same period of maybe a couple of weeks.

The CD consists of 21 recordings of which three are credited as “traditional arranged by Bob Dylan” while one of the tracks is a “take 2”, thus leaving 17 Dylan originals to be reviewed.

Track one is “Two dollars and 99 cents”.   It’s a 12 bar blues with a very bar room blues feeling, a relentless “drink it up, get smashed, pick up a woman on the cheap” feel.   The lyrics are not sorted at all; I doubt that Dylan had any thoughts about them when he started. apart from the tag line of “Two dollars and 99 cents”, but that phrase made him want the pounding barroom feel of the track.

If it had been worked on it could easily have been used at any time in the coming years as a filler track had Dylan needed one, but then I doubt that he ever needed one, or that he ever thought about the idea after putting this track down.  It was recorded, and I imagine the guys thought, “yeah, ok, so what now?  Anyone can a bottle opener?”

This is as close as I can get to the lyrics – if you can improve on them please do so without laughing at my feeble efforts.  I know they make no sense as they stand.

Go bag a sun dial
Two dollars and 99 cents
All mine I go down
Four dollars and 99 cents
It’s tomorrow
for to go
Lord lord tomorrow people go.

Don’t want a two dollar bill
One dollar 99 cents
You got ten dollars want a two dollar bill
Ten dollars and 99 cents
Had a good night 
Had a night with me and a hope on the devil’s son
Ain’t got a bus we’ll keep it level
Do or die man comes along and 
Why but  why shouldn’t I ?
Two dollars and 99 cents two dollars and 99 cents

Well she walk in and asks how much is that  mister
Two dollars and 99 cents
Oh you better go back and ask your sister
For two dollars and 99 cents
oh I am ????
two dollars and 99 cents
but you keep my way with your 
do or die why its too much to cry
Why oh why oh why why shouldn’t I?

So not particularly informative I’m afraid.  I imagine someone somewhere has made a fulsome song out of this, but doesn’t want to publicise it beyond playing it with their band otherwise there would be royalties to pay to Mr D’s corporation.


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.  It contains links to reviews of every Dylan composition that we can find a recording of – if you know of anything we have missed please do write in.

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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. Perhaps it was intended to become a song about inflation…. $10 needed now to buy what $2 used to?

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