Bob Dylan Amazed George Harrison While The Traveling Wilburys Recorded in the Studio

Bob Dylan constantly amazed George Harrison. The ex-Beatle clung to everything Dylan said like it was gospel and watched him in the recording studio like a hawk. Eventually, George started videotaping Dylan so he’d have everything the singer-songwriter did that day safely in his possession. He’d watch the tapes later on.

So, George was in his element when he formed The Traveling Wilburys with Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison. Seeing Dylan in the recording studio was something else.

George Harrison and Bob Dylan performing at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions in 1988.
George Harrison and Bob Dylan | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Bob Dylan amazed George Harrison in the recording studio

In a video about the making of The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, George talked about working with Dylan. He was astounded by how Dylan worked on the track “Tweeter and the Monkey Man.”

George recorded a conversation between Dylan and Petty. Then, they transcribed everything they said, turning it into the song.

“It was just fantastic watching him do it because he had like one take warming himself up and on take two, he sang ‘Tweeter and the Monkey Man’ right through, and what he did was change some of the lyrics,” George said. “Maybe in about four places, he’d change a couple of lines and improved them and dropped those lines in. And that was it.

“The way he writes the words down, like very tiny. Looked like a spider’s written it. You can hardly read it. And that’s the amazing thing. It’s just unbelievable seeing how he did it.”

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George had his own personal Bob Dylan bootlegs

In a 2002 special edition of Rolling Stone called “Remembering George,” Petty revealed what working with Dylan and George was like during their time in The Traveling Wilburys.

He said that George was fascinated by everything Dylan did. Eventually, George started filming Dylan. He had his own personal Dylan bootlegs.

George quoted Bob like people quote Scripture,” Petty said. “Bob really adored George, too. George used to hang over the balcony videoing Bob while Bob wasn’t aware of it. Bob would be sitting at the piano playing, and George would tape it and listen to it all night.”

“So George had his own private Dylan bootlegs?” Rolling Stone asked.

“Yeah,” Petty said. “One day George was hiding in the hedge at the house where we were recording. As everybody flew off, George would rise up out of the bushes with his video going. And he did that with Bob.”

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Dylan always amazed the ex-Beatle

Recording with The Traveling Wilburys wasn’t the only time Dylan amazed George. In his 1980 memoir, I Me Mine, George wrote that he had a wonderful time writing “I’d Have You Anytime” with Dylan. Initially, it wasn’t easy getting Dylan to relax around him. However, after a while, he did, and they worked well together.

“I was hanging out at his house, with him, Sara and his kids. He seemed very nervous and I felt a little uncomfortable—it seemed strange, especially as he was in his own home.

“Anyway, on about the third day we got the guitars out and then things loosened up and I was saying to him, ‘Write me some words,’ and thinking of all this: Johnnie’s in the basement, mixing up the medicine, type of thing and he was saying, ‘Show me some chords, how do you get those tunes?’

“I started playing chords, like major sevenths, diminisheds and augmenteds and the song appeared as I played the opening chord (G major seventh) and then moved the chord shape up the guitar neck (B flat major seventh). The first thing I thought was: ‘Let me in here/ I know I’ve been here/ Let me into your heart.’

“I was saying to Bob, ‘Come on, write some words.’ He wrote the bridge: ‘All I have is yours/ All you see is mine/ And I’m glad to hold you in my arms/ I’d have you anytime.’ Beautiful!—and that was that.”

Dylan kept his feelings about George quiet, but George knew how he felt. On the other hand, George could hardly contain his love for Dylan.

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