“Got to give him my all.” Another missing Bob Dylan composition found

by Tony Attwood

Now we all know that Bob Dylan and his mega corporation or copyright lawyers are pretty strong about claiming and protecting Bob’s rights.  So when we find a song that is mentioned as a Dylan composition in commentaries but is NOT listed on BobDylan.com then I begin to wonder.

Also the song is not listed in Heylin’s two volume review, and he has some pretty weird stuff listed there as Dylan songs, including many for which recordings are not available.  Heylin is not perfect by any means, and he refuses to recognise a song in which Dylan wrote the music but not the lyrics as a Dylan composition (!) so that might be the issue.  Or maybe he just missed it.

Anyway the song we are considering here was recorded by the McCrary Sisters for the Our Journey album

The suggestion is that it was written by Regina McCrary (known as Regina Havis at the time) with a Bob Dylan extra bit, in the 1980s.

“On The Tracks” magazine issue number 23, published in the summer of 2002 had an interview with Regina McCrary by the editor in which she states that she recorded this song with Dylan around 1981, and that she has a tape of it.

In the interview she says.

“I wrote it — actually Bob helped me write it… (We) were on the bus headed to another city… and I got stuck and I couldn’t go any further with the song. I just couldn’t, it was like the song needed something else and I didn’t know where to take it.

“So I went up front on the bus and Bob was sitting there and I asked him would he listen to it, and he said ‘Yeah!'” So I started singing the words… and then I said, ‘But right here, I mean, I’m stuck, I don’t know where to go with it!’

“So Bob took the pencil and pad and he wrote the bridge to the song, and it was awesome. As I was singing Spooner Oldham sat with an acoustic guitar and kind of played chords to match what I was singing and Bob Dylan came up with the chords to the bridge, how he thought it should go, and he put the lyrics to it….”

Thus it seems, Dylan contributed lyrics, chords and melody.

If you listen to the recording above then the passage that is being referred to would be at 2 mins 13 secs to 2 mins 33 secs.  It certainly is a distinctive part of the music.  What happens then however is a sudden jump up a semi-tone to a new key for the repeat of the original music, which to me sounds horrible.  Indeed I think most classically trained musicians find that tactic an awful wrench.  A sort of “what to do when you have absolutely run out of anything to do”.

I can’t think of any occasion where Dylan does a semitone rise, so if the story is true and Bob did write the bridge I think we can safely say the wrench up to the new key is not part of his input.  It is just the bridge.

I can’t find a copy of the lyrics on line, and as ever I hesitate to get involved in lyric decoding since the results are usually laughable.  I’ll leave that to anyone with a few minutes to spare.

Anyway the story continues…

“Later Bob Dylan, Tim Drummond, Jim Keltner, Spooner Oldham, Smitty… went in the studio that Bob used to have in Santa Monica… and we did a rough demo of it.”

It was also reported in 2007 that Bob Dylan and Regina McCrary would be recording a duet of this song for her solo album “I Made A Vow” but that has not appeared.

The article on Dylan’s suggested input in the song concludes, “Now officially released in a version by the McCrary Sisters including Regina on their album “Our Journey”, released in the USA on their own McCrary Sisters label in Oct 2010. The song was copyrighted with BMI in 2010 by Bob Dylan and Regina Avonette McCrary, Gina Mac Publishing Co.”  That album opens with “Blowing in the Wind”.

So there it is.  Dylan, it is said, wrote the “bridge” (the middle section that is not the same as the verse and which is called the “Middle 8” sometimes).  I can’t verify any of this, and we only have one source.  So I am including it, at least until some other evidence arises to suggest this tale isn’t true.

Footnote: the song is referred to as both “Got to give him my all” and “Give him my all”.  I’m going with the latter for the indexes on this site, again until someone comes up with a reason why not.

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+ Dylan compositions reviewed is now on a new page of its own.  You will find it here.  It contains 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. My all, my all, all, I got to give him my all
    Way back on cavalry, he died to set me free
    I don’t know why he did
    But I know he did, just for me

    Have somethin’ don’t make no sense
    Between the life, and straddlin’ the fence
    I know I got to do my best
    Anything else just won’the do

    I got to give you my all
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, my all, yes, I do
    Oh, I got to give him my all

    You can pretend when you’re down
    And say, ‘Lord, help me, I won’t do this no more’
    So how much pretendin’, child, in the end
    Gonna help get through all my doorway

    Yeah, my own, my own, my own
    You know, I got to give him my all
    Yeah, just the way I feel

  2. *Anything less just won’t do

    *You can pretend when you’re down, and say
    Lord, help me, etc…..

  3. Tony,
    The overall sound of this song makes it easy for me to imagine Bob singing it himself in the ‘gospel’ period, even if the quality would have led it to the cutting room floor. The middle eight is pretty tuneless, so it’s hard to discern anything particularly Dylanesque about it. He must have been half asleep when Regina approached him.

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