Oh, how I wanted to get this posted yesterday, but there were so many things happening yesterday…
Bob Dylan’s late career renaissance kicked off with the triumphant Time Out Of Mind. The album was the first of three consecutive releases which brought him back from 1980’s ‘has been” releasing a string of Christian themed albums and other mediocre releases. Time Out of Mind earned Dylan a Grammy for Album of the Year, as well as a nomination for Best Country Song (more on that later) in 1998.
Track one, “Lovesick” describes a relationship that’s on its last legs, with one party in the relationship almost at the point where they feel they have no choice but to leave. The instrumentation on the track is simple, intentionally sounding like classic blues riffs.
Track five, “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven” tells the story in each verse of somebody seeing others shuffling about their lives while the storyteller is “trying to get to heaven before they close the door”. The song is sung over five verses with no chorus, only that refrain at the end of each verse. Still, the track never feels like it lags or goes on too long.
Track seven, “Not Dark Yet”, features the same theme as track five, the storyteller in the song knows that they are in the twilight of their years but feel they still have more life left to live. There is clearly pain in lyrics such as “feel like my soul has been turned into steel” and “I’ve been to the bottom of a whirlpool of lies”. “Not Dark Yet” reads like poetry, also containing no chorus and repeats the title four times over six verses with the first use not being introduced until the middle of the second verse. Still, the song works without anything feeling out of alignment.
Track nine, “Make You Feel My Love” was almost immediately hailed as a masterpiece of songwriting. Before Bob Dylan chose it as the final single from his album, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood both recorded versions for the soundtrack to the movie Hope Floats. In the 20 years since the album was released, Billy Joel recorded a cover for his third greatest hits package, and of course Adele recorded a take of the song on her debut album, 19. “Make You Feel My Love” tells the story of one person being so in love with their partner/spouse that the would do anything including “crawling down the avenue” and “go to the ends of the earth for you” to make them feel their love. Looking up these lyrics, it also seems to work for a departed child, with several references to wind and rain offering a chance to embrace the person to whom the song is being sung.
Alright, back to that fleeting reference to Garth Brooks. In 1998, the same year of “Soy Bomb” and Dylan’s Grammy for Album of the Year, he also received a nomination for Best Country Song for Brooks’ cover of the track, released as a single before Dylan released the song as a single in it’s own right. Adele’s cover of the track, I think, has become the version most people know, a stand out track from her album before she became mega-famous for her vocal powers. In gratitude, she released a live cover on the Amnesty International compilation of Dylan covers, Chimes of Freedom.
Bob Dylan’s follow up album, Modern Times achieved similar accolades, though no album of the year affirmation from the Grammys. Pay In Blood, his most recent album of original material, continues his late career accolades. Perhaps the highest recognition he has or will ever receive is his win for the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first time it has ever been awarded for a song writer, in 2016. Dylan’s last couple of albums have been cover versions of songs Frank Sinatra performed, but I hold out hopes and desires that he will soon return to writing his own lyrics, something he has always done better than nearly everybody who has ever put pen to paper.