Modern Times

Every four or five years Bob Dylan releases a new album, and each time you ask yourself, “Does he have another good one in him?”

The answer here is a resounding “Yes.” Dylan has done it again. He has set out his stall. Gather round people and come and pay close attention to what the wise old man has to say. He is speaking clearly about what he sees on the landscape and about what it all might mean.

Bob Dylan — Modern Times: Track-by-track review

1. “Thunder On The Mountain”
Dylan kicks off Modern Times upbeat and chugging along with this track. He gives some evidence of keeping up with things modern by referring to Alicia Keys, but his God still looms large in his sight. The glaring contrast between this song’s optimistic, cheery pulse and Dylan’s hard-headed lyrics is most apparent in lines like:

Gonna raise me an army
Some tough sons of bitches
I’ll recruit my army from the
Orphanages

As a signal of what might be to follow next on this CD, “Thunder On The Mountain” works well. The tone of inquiry has been established.

2. “Spirit On The Water”
Sweetly and with tenderness, Dylan seems to be thinking out loud about another bittersweet relationship in this track. Swooping guitar and brushes on a shuffling drum serve as a tasty backing to the meandering, understated vocals that have become Dylan’s style since his sixtieth birthday.

What he achieves in “Spirit On The Water” is a perfect marriage of subtle melody and striking imagery. He struggles against abandoning himself to a lover and sets this inner battle against lulling waves of walking bass and silky glittering chords.

3. “Rollin’ And Tumblin'”
Here Dylan churns out more twelve-bar blues, but this time they are injected with tension. His voice strains against years of continual touring as he punches out lyrics verging on the blatantly misogynist.

But there is still the quality musicianship that is on display all through this album: the slide guitar; the grinding force of a tight rhythm section that is equally adept at country and western and soulful rock.

Dylan has played with some dud groups in the past, and his current touring band is certainly not one of his best. But in the studio, on this album these craftsmen have come together beautifully and this song exemplifies that. Good sense has been shown by largely burying the singer-songwriter’s ordinary guitar work all through the album and the listener can only benefit from this.

4. “When The Deal Goes Down”
There is a somewhat nostalgic air to this Bob Dylan song, which is probably why a 1950’s style Scarlett Johansson featured in the single’s video clip. The dreamy quality it evokes is brought on by the tasteful use of electric steel guitar and Dylan’s world-weary voice making out lyrics full of philosophical pearls:

I heard a deafening noise
I felt transient joys
I know they’re not what they seem
In this earthly domain
Full of disappointment and pain
You’ll never see me frown

5. “Someday Baby”
What follows next is another treatise on the love-hate relationship that Dylan has drawn on successfully for a number of songs in the last decade. Here an up-tempo grinding pattern provides a repetitive motif for a log of complaints like:

I’m so hard pressed, my mind tied up in knots
I keep recycling the same old thoughts

But these are not the gripes of a victim. After threats and promises the offending partner is eventually kicked, bringing the satisfaction that comes from worrying no more.

6. “Workingman’s Blues #2”
This is arguably one of Bob Dylan’s best ever songs. It’s the kind of automatic classic he was once responsible for crafting on a regular basis, as it touches so many emotions, simply because there is no one as well-known who speaks so eloquently for the common man anymore:

I’m listenin’ to the steel rails hum
Got both eyes tight shut
Just sitting here trying to keep the hunger from
Creeping its way into my gut

As a piece of music it is complete. Propelled by piano, understated minor chords build with momentum and intensity leading up to the final emotive chorus. A true Dylan masterpiece for the modern era.

7. “Beyond The Horizon”
The only genuine weak point on the CD, “Beyond The Horizon” is an unconvincing ballad that contains some of Dylan’s sloppiest lyrics since the early 1990’s. His voice is pleasingly reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, but even that cannot save this throwaway effort.

8. “Nettie Moore”
My five year old son Hugo (accurately) called this a stomping song, but it is at a slow stomp broken by beautiful, regretfully intoned choruses. Dylan makes so much sense here and he seems to be autobiographical when he sings:

Gonna travel the world is what I’m gonna do
Then come back and see you

9. “The Levee’s Gonna Break”
This track continues Dylan’s recurring theme of floods and water rising. The taut, insistent twelve bar format is layered with jangling acoustic six-string, flapping drums, pinched staccato guitar repeats and running bass lines. Put together, this creates the impression of a build up, a filling up of the levee, and we are up to our ears in it.

In the end though, we are left with the metaphor of a relationship that is at breaking point. The New Orleans floods have been hinted at but never quite mentioned directly.

10. “Ain’t Talkin'”
The final compelling eight minutes and forty eight seconds of Modern Times is the culmination of the apocalypse theme which has been implicit during several of the previous tracks.

In this plodding but enthralling narrative, Dylan may be paying a kind of homage to Johnny Cash. He calmly informs us:

In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I’m trying to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh, mother, things ain’t going well

Bob Dylan concludes Modern Times in the most atmospheric and dark way possible. There is no hope left in the desert where he is just walking alone and silent. One cannot help wondering if this man’s belief in the finality of the planet is actually an expression of dreading his own mortality.

Now only a few years from being seventy, Dylan seems to understandably have one eye on the hands of time.

Modern Times by Bob Dylan

“Thunder On The Mountain”

“Spirit On The Water”

“Rollin’ And Tumblin'”

“When The Deal Goes Down”

“Someday Baby”

“Workingman’s Blues #2”

“Beyond The Horizon”

“Nettie Moore”

“The Levee’s Gonna Break”

“Ain’t Talkin'”

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home Soundtrack

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Bob Dylan nerd! A review for The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home Soundtrack hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home Soundtrack by Bob Dylan

“When I Got Troubles”

“Rambler, Gambler”

“This Land Is Your Land”

“Song To Woody”

“Dink’s Song”

“I Was Young When I Left Home”

“Sally Gal”

“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”

“Man Of Constant Sorrow”

“Blowin’ In The Wind”

“Masters Of War”

“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

“When The Ship Comes In”

“Mr. Tambourine Man”

“Chimes Of Freedom”

“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”

“She Belongs To Me”

“Maggie’s Farm”

“It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”

“Tombstone Blues”

“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

“Desolation Row”

“Highway 61 Revisited”

“Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”

“Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again”

“Visions Of Johanna”

“Ballad Of A Thin Man”

“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Live 1964

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Bob Dylan nerd! A review for The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Live 1964 hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Live 1964 by Bob Dylan

“The Times They Are A-Changin'”

“Spanish Harlem Incident”

“Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”

“To Ramona”

“Who Killed Davey Moore?”

“Gates Of Eden”

“If You Gotta Go, Go Now (Or Else You Got To Stay All Night)”

“It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

“I Don’t Believe You”

“Mr. Tamborine Man”

“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

“Talkin’ World War III Blues”

“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”

“The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”

“Mama, You Been On My Mind”

“Silver Dagger”

“With God On Our Side”

“It Ain’t Me, Babe”

“All I Really Want To Do”

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Live 1975

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Bob Dylan nerd! A review for The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Live 1975 hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Live 1975 by Bob Dylan

“Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You”

“It Ain’t Me, Babe”

“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

“The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”

“Romance In Durango”

“Isis”

“Mr. Tambourine Man”

“Simple Twist Of Fate”

“Blowin’ In The Wind”

“Mama, You Been On My Mind”

“I Shall Be Released”

“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”

“Love Minus Zero/No Limit”

“Tangled Up In Blue”

“The Water Is Wide”

“It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”

“Oh, Sister”

“Hurricane”

“One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below)”

“Sara”

“Just Like A Woman”

“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”

Love And Theft

Love and Theft makes a worthy follow-up to Bob Dylan 1997 comeback album, Time Out Of Mind.

Though he continues to give us pearls, this release is not as consistent in the lyrics department as some of his earlier work, but it more than makes up for this with strong melodies put together by a tight and ultra-cohesive backing group.

Four years in the making, like most of Dylanmusic it certainly worth the wait.

Bob Dylan — Love And Theft: Track-by-track review

1. “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum”
This album starts with a fade-in to driving rhythms and sparkling guitars. Dylan’s now-coarse, croaking voice describes the hollow-headed fumblings of two everyday idiots and details their oddly symbiotic relationship:

Neither one gonna turn and run
They’re makin’ a voice to the song

but ends up with:

“I’ve had too much of your company,”
Said Tweedly Dum to Tweedly Dee

The song provides a promising intro for what is to come: country blues and vivid images from a clear-thinking man in the southern states of the USA.

2. “Mississippi”
Possibly one of Dylan’s most enduring songs of the last decade, the themes of “Mississippi” will be very familiar to anyone has lived as ‘an outsider.’ In a perfect description of that particular type of loneliness, Dylan sings:

Walkin’ through the leaves
Fallin’ from the trees
Feelin’ like a stranger that nobody sees

This track’s regretful lament is also created by a loping ballad feel and a beautifully rising bridge, but the melancholy tone is finally lifted with the lines:

But my heart is not weary
It’s light and it’s free
I got nothin’ but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me

3. “Summer Days”
Here we a have a humdinger of a song. A furiously paced, celebratory 12-bar shuffle propelled by an echoing snare, an upbeat upright bass and at least three guitars complementing each other in a way that only skilled musicians can.

On “Summer Days” the pleasure-seeking singer makes reference to both aging and (probably) impotence and he uses a car metaphor several times to describe his condition. Dylan here also makes the first in a series of puns on the album. This track is best listened to with earphones on.

4. “Bye And Bye”
Nostalgic, wistful and humorous: with a bucolic outlook, Dylan gently dances through this reflective little number. Drum rolls and cheesy Hammond organ follow a distinctly jazz-style, damped-down guitar into a shambling rhythm where the singer comments wryly on his demanding relationship.

Nothing of great substance here, but pleasant enough, if you like that kind of thing. Personally, I’d say it is one of the few lowlights on the album.

5. “Lonesome Day Blues”
Lurching, swaggering guitar riffs carry the listener through a musical squall of complaints, both petty and profound. Dylan assumes the parts of (amongst others) an abandoned orphan, a platonic host, a millworker, an observant soldier, a nervous sleeper and a hypocritical army general.

He writes:

My captain he’s decorated
He’s well-schooled and he’s skilled
He’s not sentimental
Don’t bother him at all how many of his pals have been killed

6. “Floater (Too Much To Ask)”
You can tell this is the song of an older man, a man with free time and a free mind. Violins and another shuffle feel support the most Southern of the songs, in a checkered shirt kind of a way.

The pity is that this is the closest thing to a filler on the disc and there’s a full five minutes of it. Dylan evokes an agreeable summer scene but the height of his observations ends up being:

It’s not always easy kicking someone out
Gotta wait a while, it can be an unpleasant task
Sometimes somebody wants you to give something up
And tears or not, it’s too much to ask

7. “High Water (For Charley Patton)”
Bubbling banjoes and judicious use of percussion create a swirling tidal surge on this track, one of Love and Theft’s best.

High water risin’ six inches from my head
Coffins droppin’ in the street like balloons made out of lead

sings Dylan with the kind of apocalyptic vision that would come to full expression on his next CD Modern Times.

“High Water” is one of those quality songs that Dylan shows he is still capable of producing from time to time. It is complete and whole in a way that most current music simply is not.

8. “Moonlight”
Old-fashioned, warm and familiar and with a strong sense of place and season, this leisurely number strikes a cozy note. Love and Theft would be more consistent without it, but it has been included, whereas many of Dylan’s best songs have not made the final cut on past albums.

Here, Dylan paints a pastoral scene where nature is allowed to exist without being disturbed. Ghostly keyboards and drifting guitar subtly combine with Dylan’s numerous personifications of insects and plant life, and we are confided to about a get-together under the ancient light of the moon’s rays.

9. “Honest With Me”
The most out-and-out rock ‘n’ roll song on the album, “Honest With Me” provides a bouncy but steadfast accompaniment for intelligent lyrics like:

A lot of things can get in the way
When you’re tryin’ to do what’s right…
Some things are too terrible to be true…
I’m havin’ a hard time believing some people were ever alive

It also shows off the talents of Dylan’s band, particularly the romping drum work and slicing electric guitars. The group he has assembled behind him again do the singer great justice here. Each musician deftly complements the other by making enough room so there is no audio clutter.

10. “Po’ Boy”
Another slow-down in pace, this track is Dylan making jokes and putting quick-jaw lyrics with homespun statements of simplicity.

He does this in an entertaining way though. His humor ranges from Groucho Marx-type puns to more ordinary, if not even cornball plays on words. While this does not have the depth and profundity of “Highlands” on his previous Time Out Of Mind CD, it’s not bad.

The sauntering melody of this song is provided by acoustic guitars that make for very nice listening. The country and western flavor they create never competes with the rustic storytelling, and Dylan makes canny use of his semi-mumble to suggest the persona of an old-timer who has made a name for himself dispensing advice.

11. “Cry A While”
This song benefits from repeated tempo changes but it is lifted high by its genius lyrics. Telling the story of a frustrated man who seeks a balance of revenge, Dylan’s raw throat pleads:

I’m on the fringes of the night
Fighting back tears that I can’t control
Some people they ain’t human
They got no heart or soul

This is the blues at its best. Without a trace of overblown egotism or wankery, the rolling slide guitar and simple spike keyboards support the turns of phrase that have recently made Dylan a genuine and serious contender for a Nobel Prize for Literature.

His creative brilliance is no longer beyond dispute, and his longevity as both a performer and a master of the English language are also easy to see. In this song he sustains an idea and embellishes it with refinement.

12. “Sugar Baby”
Similar to the kind of music Dylan previously produced with Daniel Lanois, this song floats from lyrics like:

I got my back to the sun ’cause the light is too intense
I can see what everybody in the world is up against

to:

Every moment of existence seems like some dirty trick
Happiness can come suddenly and leave just as quick

As a way to polish off the album, “Sugar Baby” is a drunk-sounding Dylan picking off some of his pet hates. Sometimes close to misogyny, he also makes excellent common sense. In what at the time could have been his last words on his final record, he is surely talking to a wider audience when he concludes:

You went years without me
You might as well keep going nowLove And Theft by Bob Dylan

“Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum”

“Mississippi”

“Summer Days”

“Bye And Bye”

“Lonesome Day Blues”

“Floater (Too Much To Ask)”

“High Water (For Charley Patton)”

“Moonlight”

“Honest With Me”

“Po’ Boy”

“Cry A While”

“Sugar Baby”

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Live 1966

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Bob Dylan nerd! A review for The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Live 1966 hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Live 1966 by Bob Dylan

“She Belongs To Me”

“Fourth Time Around”

“Visions Of Johanna”

“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”

“Desolation Row”

“Just Like A Woman”

“Mr. Tambourine Man”

“Tell Me, Momma”

“I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)”

“Baby, Let Me Follow You Down”

“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

“Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”

“One Too Many Mornings”

“Ballad Of A Thin Man”

“Like A Rolling Stone”

Time Out Of Mind

Time Out of Mind is one of Bob Dylan masterpieces. It is a coming together of a musical genius and a group of skilled musicians to create a work of staggering depth. Reputedly written for the most part in a shack that had been snowed in one winter in the mid 1990, Time Out of Mind boasts some of Dylan best-ever songs, from a career that has now spanned over 45 years.

Shadowy, temperamental, even at times somewhat tortured, Time Out of Mind is yet another comeback album from a man who, despite some sincere live performances, had produced almost nothing new of real quality in the years leading up to it. With another great talent, that of co-producer Daniel Lanois, setting up soundscapes of magnificence behind Dylan, hardly a single musical opportunity has been missed.

This album could well have been subtitled “Out Of The Blue Comes A Triumph. It says more about the human condition than an entire library full of post-modernist philosophy.

Bob Dylan — Time Out Of Mind: Track-by-track review

1. “Love Sick”
From the first notes of this album the listener is put on edge. Flicking between one ear and the other, the barbed staccato keyboard and growling voice unsettles and agitates. Uncertainty reigns, and we are plunged into a minefield of loneliness. The music is dissonantly sparse, and we can almost hear the blood flowing with the writer’s internal monologue:

I spoke like a child
You destroyed me with a smile
While I was sleeping

Dylan reels between thoughts of vengeance and feeling wrecked by love. He sums up his ultimately solitary state in the line:

Sometimes the silence can be like thunder

2. “Dirt Road Blues”
Dylan returns to the 12-bar format in this number, which includes handclaps and Hammond organs. It is a raw, echoing vocal performance, flanked by percussion overload, walking bass and harrying, pesky guitars. He states:

I been looking at my shadow
I’ve been watching the colors up above
Runnin’ through the rain and hail
Looking for the sunny side of love

And it is here the singer makes his feelings most plain. Like much of the album, he talks about being shackled or escaping, and being extremely uneasy about his private life. The overflowing background acts as a very effective metaphor for the mental anguish that continues to plague him.

3. “Standing In The Doorway”
This extraordinarily beautiful song ushers in a 40 minute period of the album that must surely be one of the most exceptional in the history of recorded music. Dylan has probably never sculpted anything as enduring and exquisite as this ravishing track.

Even the haunting opening bars of this song are a thing of wonder, despite being a simple pattern of octave climbs. But when Dylan’s heartbreaking voice comes in, full of resonant echo, it is almost a relief:

I’m walkin’ through hot summer nights
The jukebox playin’ low
Yesterday everything was goin’ too fast
Today it’s movin’ to slow
I got no place left to turn
I got nothin’ left to burn

With these and other seemingly uncomplicated statements, Dylan gives us a setting we can feel like we know and a state of mind we would wish not to know. He tells us too about the poignancy of a single sad moment:

I can hear the church bells ringin’ in the yard
I wonder who they’re ringin’ for

He goes on to explain the aching behind this love song:

Last night I danced with a stranger
But she just reminded me you were the one

Finally, after seven minutes of having our emotions dragged around like a half-broken old shopping cart, we are left with:

It always means so much, even the softest touch
I see nothin’ to be gained by any explanation
There’s no words that need to be said
You left me standin’ in the doorway cryin’
Blues wrapped round my head

4. “Million Miles”
This track is a mixture of stabbing electric keyboards and slippery but fragile blues guitar rallying, with a voice that could only be Bob Dylan’s. He rails about the gulf that separates aspiration and reality and does so with an acrid tongue.

Well I don’t dare close my eyes and I don’t dare wink
Maybe in the next life I’ll be able to hear myself think

If Dylan was ever close to being conventional this song is certainly not it. It completes a section of the album that towers over the pap and prefabricated construction that constitutes much of the modern music landscape.

5. “Tryin’ To Get To Heaven”
Perhaps a continuation of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” one of his most well-known songs, this more recent look at the discredited idea of an afterlife has a smooth and uncomplicated sound. Extra deep bass accentuates the earthy, resigned melancholy of much of the album, expressed by lyrics such as:

People on the platforms waitin’ for the trains
I can hear their hearts a-beatin’ like pendulums swingin’ on chains
When you think that you’ve lost everything
You find out you can always lose a little more

There is some harmonica playing which some Dylan fans (but not this one) do get excited about. But for me, the strength of the song is in what it reveals:

They tell me everything is gonna be all right
But I don’t know what all right even means
I close my eyes and I wonder
If everything is as hollow as it seems

6. “‘Til I Fell In Love With You”
Poking, prodding guitar work generates a nervous, edgy feel to this track. Dylan’s taunt, tinny voice and scratchy, almost irritating shards of noise jostle with cymbal thrusts. This song is mainly about a relationship coming to the end of its lifespan, but it ends in an up-tempo rock shuffle.

Well my nerves are exploding and my body’s tense
I feel like the whole world has got me pinned up against the fence
I’ve been hit too hard, I’ve seen too much
Nothin’ can heal me now, but your touch

7. “Not Dark Yet”
“Not Dark Yet” is the album’s other standout masterwork. It feels like twilight as the most Lanois-sounding song eases into its faultless opening. With his voice at his most tender and moving, Dylan sings about the impending end of life:

I feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
My sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain

He would have good reason to apply this last line about his own work here, and goes on to say:

I’ve been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain’t looking for nothin’ in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting’ there

A rare guitar solo is also found on this track: one that is quivering with perfect strain. Stammering drums add to Lanois’ ethereal atmosphere as the intent listener can only dwell on the common darkness of all our mortality.

8. “Cold Irons Bound”
A song that simmers with Lanois’ trademark furry bass rounds and slapping tom-tom drums, we are force-fed cruel guitars and made to fret by storm cloud keyboards. Dylan sings:

I’m beginning to hear voices and there’s no one around
Well, I’m all used up and the fields have turned brown…
I’m waist deep in the mist, it’s almost like I don’t even exist
I’m twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound

It is a song of realization. Dylan has woken up to a number of truths that now disgust and appall him. As he now understands, “reality has always had too many heads.”

It’s worth speculating on whether Dylan has just used the familiar theme of love to navigate his way around more philosophical ideas. But whether or not he was in fact stricken by affairs of the heart at the time of writing these songs is not that important, because there is often a range of meanings inside his messages.

9. “Make You Feel My Love”
One of the shortest songs on the disc, this track at least sounds like a genuine expression of something approaching love of a pleasant kind. A piano ballad of the type he used to write more often, it is a declaration of warmth and empathy.

I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawlin’ down the avenue
No, there’s nothin’ that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love

And we do also have some rare humor from Dylan on this song. But even the church organ that sets up the vaguely matrimonial scene cannot take away from the sincerity that rings through.

10. “Can’t Wait”
Here again the listener is tangled up in knots of unyielding guitars and impending bass line doom. Snare drums snap at our brains and keyboards seem to circle us like hungry birds of prey. In a line that suggests more to me about his never-ending tour lifestyle than it does about his restlessness from a problematic relationship (at least with someone else), Dylan groans:

Night or day
It doesn’t matter where I go anymore
I just go

But this song is much more genuinely existential than that. Dylan ends up observing:

It’s mighty funny, the end of time has just begun…
Well, I’m strolling through the lonely graveyard of my mind
I left my life with you somewhere back there along the line
I thought somehow that I would be spared this fate
I don’t know how much longer I can wait

11. “Highlands”
At over sixteen minutes, this is one of the longest songs Dylan has ever recorded. It is also one of the most unique. One minute it is profound, the next amusing, then sad or using the banal and commonplace to be ironic.

I have heard live versions of this song which are dynamic and stuffed with rhythm but this studio version, I think, is probably intentionally dreary, which reinforces the heavily world-weary tone and content of Dylan’s powerfully introspective lyrics:

Every day is the same thing, up and out the door
I feel further away then ever before
Some things in life, it gets too late to learn
Well, I’m lost somewhere
I must have made a few bad turns

And:

I see people in the park forgetting their troubles and woes
They’re drinking and dancing, wearing bright colored clothes
All the young men with their young women looking so good
Well, I’d trade places with any of them in a minute, if I could

In fact, this extraordinary piece of writing does have its tragicomedy. Dylan’s epic retelling of an encounter with a waitress in a Boston restaurant is both very funny and very strange.

“Highlands” finally finishes with Dylan as a modern day bard, dreaming of the Promised Land. He makes a declaration which hints at a degree of pragmatic contentment that might have somehow arrived:

Well, my heart’s in the Highlands at the break of day
Over the hills and far away
There’s a way to get there, and I’ll figure it out somehow
But I’m already there in my mind
And that’s good enough for now

Time Out Of Mind by Bob Dylan

“Love Sick”

“Dirt Road Blues”

“Standing In The Doorway”

“Million Miles”

“Tryin’ To Get To Heaven”

“‘Til I Fell In Love With You”

“Not Dark Yet”

“Cold Irons Bound”

“Make You Feel My Love”

“Can’t Wait”

“Highlands”

MTV Unplugged

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Bob Dylan nerd! A review for MTV Unplugged hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

MTV Unplugged by Bob Dylan

“Tombstone Blues”

“Shooting Star”

“All Along The Watchtower”

“The Times They Are A-changin'”

“John Brown”

“Rainy Day Women #12 And #35”

“Desolation Row”

“Dignity”

“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”

“Like A Rolling Stone”

“With God On Our Side”

Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 3

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Bob Dylan nerd! A review for Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 by Bob Dylan

“Dignity”

World Gone Wrong

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Bob Dylan nerd! A review for World Gone Wrong hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

World Gone Wrong by Bob Dylan

“World Gone Wrong”

“Love Henry”

“Ragged And Dirty”

“Blood In My Eyes”

“Broke Down Engine”

“Delia”

“Stack A Lee”

“Two Soldiers”

“Jack-A-Roe”

“Lone Pilgrim”