Backing Roger McGuinn



As we cross over into 1972 listening to Bob Dylan one year per week, there is an enormous problem: Dylan essentially took this entire year off. He released no albums, no singles, no greatest hits. He played no concerts. He published no books. He mostly relaxed, and, at the end of the year, began filming Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (which we’ll watch next week). So we’re going to picking at crumbs this week.

Here’s the first of those: In November 1972, Dylan played harmonica on the first track of Roger McGuinn’s first post-Byrds solo album, boringly titled Roger McGuinn (also, one of the worst covers of all time). The song is at least in part about McGuinn’s relation to Dylan, who is addressed as “Mr. D” in the song. The second verse is about John Lennon, and the third is about Mick Jagger.

Here’s the first verse, just for the record:

Hey Mr.D do you want me to be
A farmer, a cowhand, an old country boy
To get up in the a.m. and tend to the chore
And leave all my troubles behind a locked door
Layin’ with my lady and strummin’ on my toy
Oh I know what you mean and it sounds good to me
But oh Mr.D. I’m so restless

This is a perfectly fine song. There is nothing really wrong with it, and nothing all that memorable about it either. For the first track on a first solo album it makes some sense insofar as it tries to differentiate the singer from the two singers he was most influenced by, and one, Jagger, whose connection I can’t really fathom (but who wouldn’t want to compare themselves to Jagger?)

Dylan’s harmonica playing is fine: perfunctory, even. I’m not really sure what else to say about it. Nice job, Bob. Thanks for coming out.

Though it was recorded in 1972, it didn’t come out until 1973, but I’m putting it here because, as I say, crumbs. It’s going to be a long week, I guess.

Here it is: