George Harrison said he started writing The Traveling Wilburys’ ‘End of the Line’ like a Bob Dylan song
In a 1988 joint interview for MTV (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters) with his fellow Traveling Wilburys, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne, George explained how he wrote the band’s song “End of the Line.”
The interviewer pointed out, “There’s all these questions about who wrote what on the album, and you can kind of tell because who’s singing, but everybody is singing this song.”
Petty added, “You can’t tell, they’re all wrong.” George said, “… some of them we said, ‘OK, we need somebody to sing this one; why don’t you do it, because it suited you.’ So you can’t really tell.”
George said, “I wrote the ‘All right’ bit under a banyan tree in Hawaii, because I was thinking, ‘Well, we better try and write one that’s like a Bob Dylan song.’ Wrote that bit, and then we made up the rest later, and everybody wrote the words.”
The interviewer asked, “So it started like a Bob Dylan song?” George replied, “Well, just the [sings guitar riff] ‘ding-dinga-dinga-dinga, ding-dinga-ding.'”
It’s not hard to believe George Harrison thought of Bob Dylan while writing ‘End of the Line’
From the first time he heard Dylan, George was enraptured. They wrote their first song, “I’d Have You Anytime,” together in 1968. Then, they became bandmates in The Traveling Wilburys. George was amazed at everything that Dylan did.
“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.”
It’s not hard to believe that George would start a song thinking of Dylan’s work.
Tom Petty said he got emotional hearing The Traveling Wilburys song
George wrote “End of the Line” thinking of his good friend’s music. However, every time Petty heard the song, it made him think of The Traveling Wilburys at their best.
“I really think that’s the Wilburys at their best, it was just a terrific time. How often do you write a song that’s for four or five people? It’s not very often that happens but we really collaborated and put our heads together and made those songs happen.”
George wrote something special when he wrote “End of the Line.” It might have started like a Dylan song, but it became a song for each Traveling Wilbury.