Bob Dylan: Listen to 10 studio takes of “Tell Ol’ Bill” (and chat between the takes)

Mid-June 2005, halfway through a thirty-two-date tour with Willie Nelson, Dylan used a two-day break from the road to cut his latest movie-soundtrack offering, for an independent film, North Country, based on the life of a female miner who brought a sexual harassment suit in North Carolina. .. It had been three years since he cut ‘’Cross The Green Mountain’, but there was no sign of a sea-change in his working method.
–> Heylin, Clinton. Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2 1974-2008 (p. 473)

Studio 4
Conshohocken, Pennsylvania
17 June 2005

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & keyboard)
  • Stu Kimball (guitar)
  • Denny Freeman (guitar)
  • Donnie Herron (mandolin, pedal steel guitar)
  • Elana Fremerman (violin)
  • Tony Garnier (bass)
  • George Recile (drums & percussion)

Lyrics

The river whispers in my ear
I’ve hardly a penny to my name
The heavens have never seemed so near
All of my body glows with flame

The tempest struggles in the air
And to myself alone I sing
It could sink me then and there
I can hear the echoes ring

I tried to find one smiling face
To drive the shadow from my head
I’m stranded in this nameless place
Lying restless in a heavy bed

Tell me straight out if you will
Why must you torture me within?
Why must you come down off of your high hill?
Throw my fate to the clouds and wind

Far away in a silent land
Secret thoughts are hard to bear
Remember me, you’ll understand
Emotions we can never share

You trampled on me as you passed
Left the coldest kiss upon my brow
All of my doubts and fears have gone at last
I’ve nothing more to tell you now

I walk by tranquil lakes and streams
As each new season’s dawn awaits
I lay awake at night with troubled dreams
The enemy is at the gate

Beneath the thunder blasted trees
The words are ringin’ off your tongue
The ground is hard in times like these
Stars are cold, the night is young

The rocks are bleak, the trees are bare
Iron clouds go floating by
Snowflakes fallin’ in my hair
Beneath the gray and stormy sky

The evenin’ sun is sinkin’ low
The woods are dark, the town isn’t new
They”ll drag you down, they’ll run the show
Ain’t no telling what they’ll do

Tell ol’ Bill when he comes home
Anything is worth a try
Tell him that I’m not alone
That the hour has come to do or die

All the world I would defy
Let me make it plain as day
I look at you now and I sigh
How could it be any other way?

3 thoughts on “Bob Dylan: Listen to 10 studio takes of “Tell Ol’ Bill” (and chat between the takes)

      1. Yes, so Minnesota as opposed to North Carolina. I was certainly not aware of any iron ore strip mining in North Carolina.

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