Bob Dylan’s Best Songs: Up To Me

Redirecting to a newer version of this post….

I don’t think of myself as Bob Dylan. It’s like Rimbaud said, ‘I is another.’
~Bob Dylan (Biograph liner notes)

In its own way ‘Up To Me’ is as masterful an achievement as ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, using much the same technique to create a well-crafted juxtaposition of ‘what I know to be the truth’ and what I’m projecting’.
~Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2, . 1974-2008)

“Up To Me” was recorded 19 September 1974:


Up To Me:


It was probably meant to be the album-closer on Blood On The Tracks. This makes sense. The lyrics clearly hints of taking responsibility for “his tale” (songs on Blood On The Tracks).

.. Somebody’s got to tell the tale, I guess it must be up to me

..Somebody’s got to cry some tears, I guess it must be up to me

..No one else could play that tune, you know it was up to me

The song could be taken as terminally clever. But the beauty of the singing opens the door to another way of hearing it: Dylan is accepting responsibility for everything on Blood on the Tracks, overt or covert, contrived or genuine. In the end, he admits, it all comes from him.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Sadly enough, this brilliant song was dropped from the album & replaced with “Buckets of Rain”.
In the end, a desire for a more redemptive conclusion – and/ or the dawning realization that he was making an awfully long album – did for it. (The released album is already over 52 minutes long. With ‘Up To Me’ replacing ‘Buckets Of Rain’, it would have been over 55 minutes, an unheard-of length for a ‘rock’ album in the vinyl era, until Desire.)
~Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2, . 1974-2008)


Everything went from bad to worse, money never changed a thing
Death kept followin’, trackin’ us down, at least I heard your bluebird sing
Now somebody’s got to show their hand, time is an enemy
I know you’re long gone, I guess it must be up to me

If I’d thought about it I never would’ve done it, I guess I would’ve let it slide
If I’d lived my life by what others were thinkin’, the heart inside me would’ve died
I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity
Someone had to reach for the risin’ star, I guess it was up to me

Oh, the Union Central is pullin’ out and the orchids are in bloom
I’ve only got me one good shirt left and it smells of stale perfume
In fourteen months I’ve only smiled once and I didn’t do it consciously
Somebody’s got to find your trail, I guess it must be up to me

It was like a revelation when you betrayed me with your touch
I’d just about convinced myself that nothin’ had changed that much
The old Rounder in the iron mask slipped me the master key
Somebody had to unlock your heart, he said it was up to me

Well, I watched you slowly disappear down into the officers’ club
I would’ve followed you in the door but I didn’t have a ticket stub
So I waited all night ’til the break of day, hopin’ one of us could get free
When the dawn came over the river bridge, I knew it was up to me

Oh, the only decent thing I did when I worked as a postal clerk
Was to haul your picture down off the wall near the cage where I used to work
Was I a fool or not to try to protect your identity?
You looked a little burned out, my friend, I thought it might be up to me

Well, I met somebody face to face and I had to remove my hat
She’s everything I need and love but I can’t be swayed by that
It frightens me, the awful truth of how sweet life can be
But she ain’t a-gonna make me move, I guess it must be up to me

We heard the Sermon on the Mount and I knew it was too complex
It didn’t amount to anything more than what the broken glass reflects
When you bite off more than you can chew you pay the penalty
Somebody’s got to tell the tale, I guess it must be up to me

Well, Dupree came in pimpin’ tonight to the Thunderbird Café
Crystal wanted to talk to him, I had to look the other way
Well, I just can’t rest without you, love, I need your company
But you ain’t a-gonna cross the line, I guess it must be up to me

There’s a note left in the bottle, you can give it to Estelle
She’s the one you been wond’rin’ about, but there’s really nothin’ much to tell
We both heard voices for a while, now the rest is history
Somebody’s got to cry some tears, I guess it must be up to me

So go on, boys, and play your hands, life is a pantomime
The ringleaders from the county seat say you don’t have all that much time
And the girl with me behind the shades, she ain’t my property
One of us has got to hit the road, I guess it must be up to me

And if we never meet again, baby, remember me
How my lone guitar played sweet for you that old-time melody
And the harmonica around my neck, I blew it for you, free
No one else could play that tune, you know it was up to me

Other versions:

The song has never been played live by Dylan. So let’s check out some versions by Roger McGuinn.

Roger McGuinn & Thunderbyrd – 8/76 WLIR’s Livingroom Studio, Glen Cove, NY

live at Pepperdine University in Malibu California on October 9, 2009:

Cardiff Rose (1976 album) version:

Version from an album called “Dylan Covered” (came free with a music magazine in UK, I don’t know which one…)
—>Mojo magazine September 2005 edition (ref comments section, Thanks David Burgess)

Check out:


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