Tag Archives: Jean Richie

Audio: Bob Dylan’s ‘Source Material,’ or How to Write a Song with an Old Melody

Bob Dylan borrowed a melody and a guitar riff from Memphis Minnie.

It’s not news that Bob Dylan, like many blues and folk (and rock) musicians, based some of his songs on older songs.

But I thought it would be fun to compare the songs Dylan borrowed from, to the songs he wrote.

Below you’ll find the inspiration, followed by Dylan’s version.

I have no problem with Dylan’s approach. Because even when the melodies are the same, what Dylan does with those melodies is amazing.

When you compare, say, “Obviously Five Believers” to Memphis Minnie’s “Me and My Chauffeur Blues” you’ll see what I mean.


Johnny & Jack, “Uncle John’s Bongos”:

“Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Dumb & Dumber)”:

Muddy Waters, “Rollin’ and Tumblin'”:

“Rollin’ and Tumblin'”:

Rollin’ and Tumblin’ by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

Memphis Minnie, “Me and My Chauffeur Blues”:

Me and My Chauffeur Blues by Memphis Minnie on Grooveshark

“Obviously Five Believers”:

Obviously Five Believers by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

Jean Ritchie, “Nottamun Town”:

Nottamun Town by Jean Ritchie on Grooveshark

“Masters of War”:

Dominic Behan, “The Patriot Game”:

“With God On Our Side”:

The Bently Boys, “Down On Penny’s Farm”:

“Hard Times in New York”:

Also “Maggie’s Farm”:

Maggie's Farm by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

The Chad Mitchell Singers, “The Banks of Sicily” (Dylan heard the song performed by Hamish Henderson):

The Banks of Sicily by The Chad Mitchell Trio on Grooveshark

“The Times They Are A-Changin'”

Joan Baez, “Mary Hamilton”:

“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol”:

Ewan MacColl, “Lord Randall”:

“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”:

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-