The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
"You're No Good"

"You're No Good"

#216 / June 2 Podcast

“You’re No Good,” the opening song on Bob Dylan’s 1962 eponymous debut album, was written, not by the 19-year-old genius, but by one of his heroes, Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller.

Legend has it that Dylan saw and heard Fuller perform that song himself in 1960 at Denver’s Exodus coffeehouse shortly after it opened in the basement of the Raylane Hotel. The venue was managed by the late folk singer Walt Conley.

Bobby in Denver

A few months earlier, Dylan was still back in Minneapolis’s Dinkytown bohemian neighborhood, but he was restless and ready to cut out; he just wasn’t sure where he wanted his boot heels to be wandering. Then a high school bandmate, Monte Edwardson, told him about Denver’s lively folk-music scene.

Shortly after hitting town, Dylan made his way to Denver’s famed Satire Lounge on East Colfax. A girl Bob knew suggested he introduce himself to Walt Conley, a fixture in the local folk scene.

Dylan biographer Howard Sounes (Down the Highway) quotes Conley as saying kid Dylan looked “like a character out of The Grapes of Wrath,” wearing worn-out clothes and singing hillbilly ballads.

He was from the branch of folk music that was “rolling in the dust,” Conley added, with a style and a look that ran counter to the more polished, spiffy folk musicians like The Kingston Trio and the Denver-based Smothers Brothers.

Dylan ended up in a rented room next door to The Exodus, where patrons drank 3.2 beer served out of buckets, enjoyed the atmosphere — the walls were plastered with “high-camp” posters and impressionistic paintings — and listened to trendy folk music.

The Harp Rack

No evidence exists that Dylan ever performed at The Exodus, but he did hang around long enough to check out other musicians, including Jesse Fuller, who was already known to the hip crowd for his iconic composition, “San Francisco Bay Blues.”

And it might have been from watching Fuller perform as a one-man band that Dylan got the idea to imitate by holding his harmonica in front of his mouth in a metal neck brace, allowing him to alternate between singing and running riffs on the harp.

Several years later, after Dylan recorded “You're No Good” on his 1962 debut album for Columbia, he shared the bill with Fuller at the University of Michigan Folk Festival in Ann Arbor. Meanwhile, Fuller's own recorded version of the song was not released until May 1963, on his album San Francisco Bay Blues.

Our Take on the Tune

The Flood has always had fun at the rehearsals with these sassy old songs, and sometimes the tunes even create their own little legacies.

Here’s a case in point. Midway through this particular track from a recent session, you’ll hear a bit of a crash, like the sound of something hitting the floor. And that’s just what it was.

THE STORY: A while back, The Flood’s ever-jolly den mother, Rose Marie Riter, gave us some nifty bird-in-flight figurines that we put up around the practice room.

For years, the birds have quietly kept their posts, but suddenly on this night, something about the vibrations in the room caused the nearest bird to take an unscheduled, unsuccessful flight.

No one was hurt — including the bird, now returned to its high perch on the bookcase — but the incident was an eerily reminder of another once-upon-a-time when a frog attacked Dave Peyton in the same room. Here’s that story:

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: