The five best unreleased Bob Dylan songs

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

The fact that Bob Dylan is the only songwriter to date to have received the Nobel Prize for Literature says a lot. Over the past six decades, much of his music has gone beyond merely being enjoyable to hear and deserves to be read, regarded also as poetry. Dylan has achieved extraordinary success because of his singular capacity to transmit powerful visuals while leaving storylines in the artistic control of mystery.

Dylan’s approach had changed over the years, but a gift for poetry and an emotional delivery remained consistent, even as he rose quickly to fame as a folk rock star. Dylan spent his formative years as a Woody Guthrie enthusiast roaming the coffee shops of New York City. Dylan has a pile of material for new fans to sort through as a result of his prodigious studio output over the last six decades, and at age 82, the musician doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Naturally, when putting together albums over the course of his lengthy and diverse career, Dylan had to toss out a number of unfinished song ideas and demos, creating a massive collection of unheard off-cuts. Fortunately, several of these unreleased songs have been found in Dylan’s acclaimed Bootleg Series volumes and internet leaks many years later.

With a list of his top five unreleased songs, we’ll look at some of Dylan’s overlooked masterpieces today. Several ballads and a rewritten poem by Charles Badger Clark are on the list; all were produced over the first 30 years of Dylan’s career.

The best unreleased Bob Dylan songs:

‘I Can’t Leave Her Behind’

Another lovelorn song Dylan regretfully did not deem suitable for commercial publication is “I Can’t Leave Her Behind.” During the 1966 European tour, guitarist Robbie Robertson and I had multiple jam sessions in various hotel rooms, and this hidden treasure was born. Although Dylan never recorded it, director DA Pennebaker managed to catch snippets of the sessions. The music is mostly improvised, which adds to its unadulterated beauty.

The following recording of “I Can’t Leave Her Behind” is primarily made up of a jam session that was captured at Glasgow, Scotland’s North British Station Hotel (now the Millennium Hotel). The music has been painstakingly repaired, with different stops and scuffs smoothly removed, as heard below.

‘To Fall In Love With You’

Between August 27 and August 28, 1986, during the Hearts of Fire sessions, Dylan cut a rough demo of the unfinished song “To Fall In Love With You.” Some of Dylan’s most heartfelt lyrics and, for an incomplete song, pristine and well-produced instrumentals are featured in the mellow ballad. During the recording sessions, Dylan apparently didn’t think the song was acceptable or appropriate for release, but thankfully it has been saved from the sands of time for our everlasting delight.

One of Dylan’s most famous love songs has singing by him, “A tear goes down my day is real/ But your drying eye upon the shame/ Each needs a road for me from you/ What paradise? What can I do?/ That die for my and the day is dark/ I can’t believe for your touch/ What I could find oh time is right/ If I fell in love to fall in love/ To fall in love with you.”

‘Making A Liar Out Of Me’

A long-forgotten song called “Making A Liar Out Of Me” was recorded on September 26th, 1980, during Dylan’s Christian rock tour. This specific recording session took place between the albums Saved from 1980 and Shot of Love from 1981. Although Dylan’s work during this time was by no means admirable, it was impossible to ignore the songwriting skills on exhibit in songs like “Every Grain of Sand” and “Covenant Woman.”

‘Making A Liar Out Of Me’ may have given Shot of Love more energy, even though it doesn’t have the same powerful emotional impact as other of Dylan’s more recent singles. Organ blasts and country guitar progressions are used in the song to reflect Dylan’s lamentation at his loved one’s changes. In the end, it was published as a part of Trouble No More – The Bootleg Series Vol.

‘Series of Dreams’

The energy of a quick and steady rhythm drives the soaring and impassioned song “Series of Dreams.” On March 23, Dylan began recording the song for his 26th studio album, Oh Mercy, but it was eventually cut due to conflicts with Daniel Lanois, the album’s producer. The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 contains the original recording that has been remixed with overdubs.

The song was mentioned by Dylan in Chronicles: Volume One. He said, “Although Lanois liked the song, he liked the bridge better, wanted the whole song to be like that. I knew what he meant, but it just couldn’t be done. Though I thought about it for a second, thinking that I could probably start with the bridge as the main part and use the main part as the bridge…the idea didn’t amount to much and thinking about the song this way wasn’t healthy. I felt like it was fine the way it was – didn’t want to lose myself in thinking too much about changing it.”

‘Spanish Is the Loving Tongue’

‘Spanish Is the Loving Tongue’ has been recorded by Dylan in many unfinished forms over the years. The lyric is based on Charles Badger Clark’s 1907 publication of the famous American West poem “A Border Affair.” Billy Simon initially put the poem to music in 1925; 12 years later, Clark was chosen South Dakota’s Poet Laureate.

Dylan doesn’t write the song’s lyrics, but he provides free-flowing, soulful vocals to inject his own experience into someone else’s words. The recording heard below was made during the Self Portrait recordings in the late 1970s, and it was ultimately released in 2013 as a part of The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969–1971).

Write A Comment