Nowhere to go: the forgotten Harrison-Dylan collaboration

By Tony Attwood

“Nowhere to go” also known as “When everybody comes to town” is listed in many places as a Bob Dylan – George Harrison co-composition which was in the long list of songs to go onto All Things Must Pass, but then not used. 

It exists only as a demo from the time Harrison made recordings of all the songs he was considering for the album.  The Dylan Harrison composition that was used was “I’ll have you any time”.  This song is not mentioned under either title in Heylin’s work on Dylan’s compositions.

The recording was made at Bob Dylan’s home in Greenwich Village in April 1970, although there are suggestions that the piece was written in 1969.

The song was included in a bootleg album called “Beware of ABKCO” a title which links the song “Beware of Darkness” and the fraught relationship the Beatles had with the publishing corporation Abkco – who at one stage sued the Beatles and in which one of the cases was settled by the group paying the publishing of $4 million.

Commenting on the period of writing this song Harrison noted that Bob Dylan was being very quiet and seemed very low on confidence at the time but things improved when the two musicians began playing music together around Thanksgiving.   (There are details of the occasion in the book “I me mine” by Harrison).

Simon Leng has suggested that Harrison showed Dylan a few chords that Dylan was not using in his songs and out of that conversation this song was created.

In this telling of events Harrison has been talking to Dylan, asking to be allowed into the private world Dylan had created around himself (“Let me in here”) to which Dylan replies “All I have is yours”

And from here somehow the two composers, through exchanging lyrics and chords subsequently emerged with this second song.

However to me (and as always this is just my thought on the matter) the chord sequence seems to have been pushed and pushed further and further to include as many unexpected chords as possible so that the song itself loses its coherence.  There is no rule that says you can’t have a dozen or more different chords in a verse, but pop and rock music was based on just three chords and the further away from that one gets the more one has to work to create a coherence that can be grasped by a pop/rock audience.  That doesn’t mean three chords is all we have but it does suggest that a certain caution is needed if one wants to keep the elements of popular music in what one is writing.

The chords we have here in the verse are…

G#m    G       F#m        Am       E          C#7

F#m      F       E             F#m    Am

It is indeed even hard to know which key the song is in.  As I say there is nothing in the rule book that says you can’t do this, because there is no rule book – but then on the other hand “Blowin in the Wind” only has three chords (although a fourth is sometimes added in performances).

Here are the lyrics of Nowhere to Go.

Get tired of being pushed around
Trampled to the ground
Every times somebody comes to townI get tired of policemen on the prowl
Looking on my bowel
Every times somebody’s getting highNowhere to go
There’s no place to hide my self
Nowhere I know they don’t know
And I know it

I get tired of being beatle jeff
Talking to the deaf
Every times some whistle’s getting in blown

Nowhere to go
There’s no place to hide myself
Nowhere I know they don’t know
And I know it

I get tired of being beatle ted
Talking to the dead
Every times some booby’s getting blown

Nowhere to go
There’s no place to hide my self
Nowhere I know they don’t know
And I know it

Nowhere to go
There’s nowhere to hide my self
Nowhere I know they don’t know
And I know it 

It really does sound to me like a quick Dylan lyric with Harrison throwing in every chord that might fit, and that doesn’t always work.  At least not for me.

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