Bob Dylan: The roots of Sweet Amarillo


Bob Dylan In 'Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid'

Bob Dylan: The roots of Sweet Amarillo

“Country music has a lot to learn from Bob Dylan” – Ketch Secor (to Rolling Stone Magazine)

So, Old Crow Medicine Show has done it again, taken an old Dylan tune off a bootleg and finished it. In 2003, OCMS completed an old song that Bob Dylan had made a “sketch” of 30 years earlier, with the result being “Wagon Wheel.” Darius Rucker also did his take on the song and had a huge hit.

Read more here: The Roots of Wagon Wheel aka Rock Me Mama

The “new” song, Amarillo the melody and some of the lyrics comes from a demo recorded by Bob Dylan during the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid sessions.It is track 12 on the famous bootleg Peco’s Blues, the Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid Sessions.

Peco's Blues (BACK)

Bob Dylan – Sweet Amarillo (1973):

Let us also listen to Old Crow Medicine Show’s version:
The melody has not changed much, but they have added verses and kept the chorus. Both songs are country waltzes. Old Crow medicine show works in the folk tradition that Dylan is definitely a part of, getting parts of melodies and lyrics and adding your own verses.

Donna Terry Weiss and Brenda Patterson have recorded a song with the same name, and it is clearly inspired by Dylan’s song.

Both these women were backing vocalists on the Rolling Thunder Revue and at the Peco’s Blues / Pat Garrett  and Billy The Kid sessions. Donna Weiss wrote this song (Bible Belt Music BMI copyright by Donna Weiss 1978 and 1982) and it is different from Dylan’s take, but I think she also finished what Dylan started. (I don’t know) She kept the lyrics in the chorus, so maybe Dylan should have been credited in the same way as he is now on the new Amarillo. Or is it Donna Weiss’s song? Not a country waltz anymore…

Donna Weiss – Sweet Amarillo (1976):

Recorded live with the Rolling Thunder Revue in Mobile, Alabama, April 29, 1976, she sang the song a few times. I find it a bit strange that Dylan let her take the sole songwriting credit. Maybe he just didn’t care.

Brenda Patterson – Sweet Amarillo (1974):


On “The Complete Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid Sessions” the song is labeled as Sweet Amarillo (Trad.) .

Does anybody know the origins of the song, pre Billy The Kid Sessions? Please tell us in the comment section.

– Hallgeir

Sources: Rolling Stone magazine, Searchingforagem.com, Olof’s files and Expectingrain.com and many news articles the last week

7 thoughts on “Bob Dylan: The roots of Sweet Amarillo”

  1. “Sweet Amarillo” as performed on the Pat Garrett session is not written by Bob Dylan, it’s written by Donna Weiss – the women singing with him in the studio, probably Donna Weiss and Brenda Patterson, clearly know the words of the song better than Dylan does.

    1. Well, I don’t think it is that clear.

      Dylan gets writers credit on the Old Crow Medicine version, I don’t think he would do that unless he considered the 73 version from The Pat Garrett sessions his own “Sketch”. As I say in the post, I suspect Donna Weiss to have finished Dylan’s song.

      Thanks for the comment!

      – Hallgeir

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *