In 1966 Bob Dylan was already showing his interest in country music in the unreleased song “I Can’t Leave Her Behind.”
This gentle little country song about a girl Dylan could not leave behind could have come from “Nashville Skyline” except Dylan recorded it during his 1966 rock and roll tour England with the Hawks.
The song is included in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary of the 1966 tour “Eat The Document” which is famous for the cry from the audience of “Judas” to Dylan’s new electric band and his response of “Play fucking loud” to the band.
“I Can’t Leave Her Behind” was recorded in a hotel scene with Robbie Robertson along with other songs, most of them unpublished and unreleased. Personally I don’t remember the song and I have seen “Eat The Document.”
Part of the problem is Dylan is singing sotto voce. You will need to turn up the volume. Frankly we were not used to hearing Dylan croon country songs in 1966, a talent he honed on “Nashville Skyline” and “Self-Portrait”
A new audience recently discovered the Dylan tenor when he released Another Self-Portrait Bootleg Series No. 10 this year.
“I Can’t Leave Her Behind” Bob Dylan
The tune of “I Can’t Leave Her Behind” is nothing special or memorable, just Dylan warbling a simple tune. The lyrics are slight as well which is probably why Dylan didn’t bother to record or publish it.
I’m Not There
Stephen Malkmus sang “I Can’t Leave Her Behind” in the movie “I’m Not Here” which is an underrated gem on DVD. While still slight, Malkmus puts enough heart into the song to carry it well.
Eat The Document
The documentary “Eat The Document” was edited by Dylan after his accident and did not get released commercially. The whole movie is on YouTube
Lyrics and Chords
I Cant Leave Her Behind
Where she leads me I do not know
Well she leads me where she goes
C Dm G C7
I can’t find her nowhere
Well, she needs me here
All aware, I just can’t hear her walk
I just can’t hear her talk
C Dm G C7
Though sometimes you know you will
And when she comes my way
I’ll just be left any night or day
Am Gm C
I will hear her say
F C Dm Bb
that I don’t wanna try, I tried also cried
F C Bb Bb Am Gm F
But I can’t leave her behind