Bob Dylan's Dream

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"Bob Dylan's Dream"
Song by Bob Dylan
from the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
ReleasedMay 27, 1963
RecordedApril 24, 1963
LabelColumbia Records
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan track listing

"Bob Dylan's Dream" is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1963. It was recorded by Dylan on April 24, 1963, and was released by Columbia Records a month later on the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.[1][2]

The song was also recorded as a demo for Dylan's publishing company, M. Witmark & Sons. The demo version, taped the day before the album track, was officially released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 – The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964 in October 2010.[3][4] A May 10, 1963 live version of the song was also released that month on In Concert – Brandeis University 1963.[5] An April 12, 1963 concert performance was included on Live 1962-1966: Rare Performances From The Copyright Collections, released in 2018.


Various accounts have been proposed regarding the song's inspiration, none of them being conclusive. In one, "Bob Dylan's Dream" recalls the times Dylan had spent in Greenwich Village with comedian Hugh Romney and their friends during the early 1960s. Romney, later to become Wavy Gravy of Woodstock and Merry Pranksters fame, lived above The Gaslight Cafe on MacDougal Street, where he worked as entertainment director.[6] The two first met at the Gaslight in the spring of 1961. Dylan approached Romney about the possibility of performing and began appearing regularly at the Gaslight's hootenannies. Within a few months, he debuted at the Gaslight as a featured act.[7]

Dylan frequently hung out upstairs in Romney's apartment and wrote one of his most significant songs there, "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall", in August 1962 .[8] The next winter, in late January or early February 1963, he wrote "Bob Dylan's Dream" possibly as a nostalgic remembrance of his early days in the Village when his life was less complex.[6][9]

A differing account, by biographer and critic Robert Shelton, posits that the song concerns the lost innocence of Dylan's adolescence in Hibbing, Minnesota.[10] John Bucklen, one of Dylan's closest friends in Hibbing in the mid-1950s, told Shelton he and Dylan used to venture out to his sister's house, where they would play guitar and sing verses.[11] "When I heard the song 'Bob Dylan's Dream'," he said, "I couldn't help but think that some of the sessions we had at my sister's house were part of that 'Dream.'"[12]

The song's origins[edit]

According to Shelton, Dylan credited the melody of "Bob Dylan's Dream" to the traditional broadside ballad "Lord Franklin" (also known as "Lady Franklin's Lament" and "The Sailor's Dream"), which he learned from British folksinger Martin Carthy, while visiting London in late December 1962.[10]

However, Dylan may have learned the song even earlier from his Village friend Paul Clayton, who had recorded it in 1957 for his album Whaling and Sailing Songs: From the Days of Moby Dick on Folkways. In either case, within a couple weeks after returning from London in January 1963, Dylan began playing "Bob Dylan's Dream" for Gil Turner during after-hours sessions at Gerde's Folk City, where Turner was emcee.[13][14]

Besides the melody, Dylan's song also shares lyrical similarities with "Lady Franklin's Lament", as in the song's closing lines:[10]

Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that.

— Bob Dylan, closing verses of "Bob Dylan's Dream"[15]

"Lady Franklin's Lament" concludes on a similar note:

Ten thousand pounds would I freely give
To know on earth, that my Franklin do live.

— Traditional, closing verses of "Lady Franklin's Lament"[12]

Within a short time, Dylan made the song a regular part of his repertoire, performing it for his first major New York concert at Town Hall on April 12, 1963. Less than two weeks later, on April 24, he recorded two takes of the song at Columbia's Studio A, one of which was selected for the album Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.[16]

Notable cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Heylin, Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades, p. 732
  2. ^ Gray, The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, pp. 243-244
  3. ^ "The Bootleg Series Volume 9—The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964". 2010-10-17. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
  4. ^ Corbett, Ben. "Album Reviews: Bob Dylan, Bootleg Series Vol. 9, The Witmark Demos 1962-1964 and The Complete Mono Recordings". Crawdaddy. Archived from the original on 2010-12-25. Retrieved 2010-12-03. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help); Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ Greene, Andy (August 31, 2010). "Dylan's New 'Bootleg' to Feature Unearthed Live Show". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
  6. ^ a b Sounes, Down the Highway, pp. 92-93
  7. ^ Sounes, Down the Highway, pp. 93
  8. ^ Sounes, Down the Highway, pp. 121-122
  9. ^ Bjorner, The Yearly Chronicles, 1963
  10. ^ a b c Shelton, No Direction Home, p. 156
  11. ^ Shelton, No Direction Home, pp. 45-46
  12. ^ a b Heylin, Revolution in the Air, p. 124
  13. ^ Heylin, Revolution in the Air, p. 125
  14. ^ Gray, Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, pp. 672–673
  15. ^ Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan: Lyrics, 1962-2001, p. 62
  16. ^ Heylin, Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions,, p. 14
  17. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Peter, Paul & Mary: Album 1700". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
  18. ^ Roach, Pemberton. "Judy Collins: Judy Sings Dylan...Just Like a Woman". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
  19. ^ "Phil Carmen: Bob Dylan's Dream". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-02-25.

See also[edit]

List of Bob Dylan songs based on earlier tunes


External links[edit]