4 Songs You Didn’t Know Bob Dylan Wrote For Other Artists

To many, the 81-year-old Bob Dylan is the greatest songwriter of all time. Whether you like his catalog the best or not, what’s a telling sign is that so many of the greats, from Tom Petty to George Harrison, seem to revere Dylan. He’s a lyricist who was willing to go all in with his ideas and his work. He penned songs about depravity and depression, love and beauty. Society and brutality.

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He has also written songs for other artists. Songs that went on to bolster the catalog of artists like Harrison, Joan Baez, and Michael Bolton. Here are four songs you didn’t know Bob Dylan wrote for other artists.

1. “I’d Have You Anytime,” George Harrison

Written by Bob Dylan and George Harrison

Composed by two legends for Harrison’s debut 1970 solo album, All Things Must Pass, following the breakup of the Beatles, “I’d Have You Anytime” was written in Dylan’s upstate New York home in the winter of 1968. At the time, Harrison was looking to break out as a solo artist while Dylan was trying to leave the limelight after years in its aim. In fact, that is largely what the song is about. The two sides of the coin expressed by two friends and collaborators.

[RELATED: Behind the Meaning of “Ballad of a Thin Man” by Bob Dylan]

The somber song includes Harrison singing, Let me know you, let me show you / Let me roll it to you. It’s a bit of a male friendship love song. The chorus goes, 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. To date, there are several versions of the song that have been released via bootlegs and b-sides albums, too.

“I’d Have You Anytime” wasn’t the only song Dylan wrote with or for Harrison. He also penned “I Don’t Want to Do It,” which was recorded by Harrison in 1985, though it was written by Dylan in 1968. Harrison also recorded the Dylan song, “If Not For You.”

2. “Love Rescue Me,” U2

Written by Bob Dylan, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Bono, The Edge

From the 1988 U2 studio album, Rattle and Hum, “Love Rescue Me” was born from the Irish band’s tour promoting their record Joshua Tree. It was the winter of 1987 when Bono (U2’s frontman) and Dylan met in L.A. for a songwriting session. At first, the track they created was titled “Prisoner of Love,” but that later became the more palatably titled “Love Rescue Me.” Originally, Dylan sang lead on the song but he later asked U2 to not include his voice due to his commitments with the all-star band, The Traveling Wilburys, Dylan was also working around that time, which included Tom Petty and George Harrison.

Sings Bono in the perfect blues tune:

Many strangers have I met
On the road to my regret
Many lost who seek to find themselves in me
They ask me to reveal
The very thoughts they would conceal
Love, rescue me

3. “Love Is Just a Four Letter Word,” Joan Baez

Written by Bob Dylan

This 1968 song was written by Dylan but recorded first by Baez. It also wasn’t the first track of its kind between the two romantic partners. Baez also recorded the song “Farewell, Angelina” by Dylan, who wrote it for his 1965 album, Bringing It All Back Home, but quickly let it go. “Love Is Just a Four Letter Word” was also written around 1965. In the documentary, Don’t Look Back, Baez can be seen strumming the song and telling Dylan, “If you finish it, I’ll sing it on a record.” It later appeared on her album, Any Day Now, which was an album of Dylan covers.

Seems like only yesterday
I left my mind behind
Down in the gypsy café
With a friend of a friend of mine
Who sat with a baby heavy on her knee
Yet spoke of life most free from slavery
With eyes that showed no trace of misery
A phrase in connection first with she occurred

That love is just a four-letter word

4. “Steel Bars,” Michael Bolton

Written by Michael Bolton and Bob Dylan

The two artists collaborated in 1990 for this song, which later appeared on Michael Bolton’s album, Time, Love & Tenderness. “Anybody in their right mind would stop whatever they were doing,” said Bolton of the session. Meaning, when Dylan calls to work on a song, you answer. The track is the final one on the 10-song album. Bolton even recorded a cover of the Bard’s song, “Make You Feel My Love,” with German singer Helene Fischer on a duets LP.

[RELATED: What is a Bard and Why is Bob Dylan One?]

Sings Bolton on the big produced track:

In the night I hear you speak
Turn around, you’re in my sleep, yeah
Feel your hands inside my soul
Holding on and you won’t let go
I’ll try running, but there’s no escape
I can’t bend them, and I just can’t break these

Steel bars, wrapped all around me
I’ve been your prisoner since the day you found me
I’m bound forever ’till the end of time
Steel bars wrapped around this heart of mine

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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