Chapter 14 – April 25 Champaign Illinois and other Bob Dylan Co-Writes

I don’t expect Dylan to sing this song he wrote with Carl Perkins in 1969 tonight in the city of its title.  I doubt that Dylan even remembers writing it.  I have been skeptical of Dylan co-writes ever since Danny O’Keefe told the story about Dylan writing the phrase “down in the well” on a scrap of paper and inviting Danny to finish it. Roger McGuinn received a similar gift from on high when Dylan scribbled the phrases, ““The river flows, it flows to the sea, wherever that river goes, that’s where I want to be, flow river flow” on a napkin, gave the napkin to Peter Fonda and told him to give it to McGuinn.  That was the seed for “The Ballad of Easy Rider.”

Some of the co-writes have been substantial.  Jacques Levy wrote at least half of Desire, Robert Hunter co-wrote “Silvio,” most of “Together Through Life,” and   “Duquesne Whistle” from Tempest.  The most monumental co-write must be “Brownsville Girl” with Sam Shepard, and you can spend hours trying to figure out who wrote what on that one.  My guess is that they were writing different stories that had a common thread.  Dylan wrote about his experiences acting in the picture, “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” while Shepard wrote of seeing the movie “The Gunfighter” with the admirable Gregory Peck. The flip side of this one is the execrable yet hilarious “Vomit Express” written with Allen Ginsberg.

There are tons more, including a mess of stuff with the Traveling Wilburys. Heartland with Willie Nelson, I’d have You Anytime with George Harrison, Saved and some other gospel songs with Tim Drummond,  a number of absolutely terrible songs with back-up singer Helena Springs, Under Your Spell with Carole Bayer Sager, Tears of Rage with Richard Manuel, This Wheel’s on fire with Rick Danko, and Steel Bars with Michael Bolton.

Seems anyone can get a co-write with Dylan if they really want one.  Hell, even I got one:

Co-writes with Dylan are advantageous to both parties. One gets the status of writing a song with the world’s greatest songwriter and the world’s greatest songwriter gets half of the money.