Billy 1 (1973) – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan as Alias

Bob Dylan as ‘Alias’ on the set of Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid

Billy 1 is a track from Bob Dylan’s underrated soundtrack album ‘Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid‘. Billy 1 builds on the instrumental Main Title Theme (Billy) which opens the record.


Most people will be familiar with the second song on side 2 of the album – Knocking on Heaven’s Door which is renowned as one of Bob Dylan’s greatest songs, however I have always been more drawn to listen to the Main Title Theme (Billy) and it’s off-shootings Billy 1, Billy 4, and Billy 7. I was so attached to the Main Title Theme (Billy) that I wrote my own lyrics to it as a teenager which I will not relay here to avoid inevitable embarrassment.

I adore this album. I understand why some people don’t rank it high amongst Dylan’s works, but Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid has always really done it for me. The sum is truly greater than it’s parts on this album because there is a broader appreciation attained listening to it as a mood piece in it’s entirety (and it’s not long just over 35 minutes).

Wikipedia: Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid is the twelfth studio album and first soundtrack album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on July 13, 1973 by Columbia Records for the Sam Peckinpah film, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid reached No.  16 US and No.  29 UK.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid scriptwriter Rudy Wurlitzer was a previous acquaintance of Dylan’s, and asked him to provide a couple of songs for the movie. Dylan performed “Billy” for director Peckinpah, who found the performance very moving and offered Dylan an acting part on the spot…..Dylan and his family moved to Durango, Mexico, where filming took place.

The film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid like the album is in my estimation also highly underrated. When the film was released it received mixed reviews, but in later years after critical re-evaluation the film has led many to regard it as one of Peckinpah’s finest achievements.

There’s guns across the river aimin’ at ya
Lawman on your trail, he’d like to catch ya
Bounty hunters, too, they’d like to get ya
Billy, they don’t like you to be so free.

Campin’ out all night on the berenda
Dealin’ cards ’til dawn in the hacienda
Up to Boot Hill they’d like to send ya
Billy, don’t you turn your back on me.

Playin’ around with some sweet senorita
Into her dark hallway she will lead ya
In some lonesome shadows she will greet ya
Billy, you’re so far away from home.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Music
3 comments on “Billy 1 (1973) – Bob Dylan
  1. badfinger20 says:

    Dylan’s music added to that movie. It helped…or made the atmosphere what it ended up being. I do like the album a lot.

  2. A fave album. I think I’ve done a couple takes on the music and a couple on the film. Great choice Matthew. Common ground.

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