|Time Out of Mind
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At the beginning of Time Out of Mind, Bob Dylan finds himself in the same dead-day world as on 1964's "One Too Many Mornings." By now, though, he can't be bothered to romanticize the street and the distant dogs' barking; he can only moan about how sick he is of love, of himself. Saying it seems to give him the strength to go on, and go on he does, over 11 songs that are among his most plainspoken and musically eloquent. The reconstituted bottle-blues that sparked the early '90s acoustic masterpieces Good As I Been to You and World Gone Wrong carries over to Daniel Lanois's carefully dirty production and a groove that tops anything Dylan's done in a studio since, at least, Blood on the Tracks. No matter how lousy he feels, this is the work of a mighty, mighty man. --Rickey Wright
- Dead on the inside
Time Out of Mind is an agitated album, a sweaty and broken and bruised mess of a record, a terrified mongrel hiding, battered in a filthy corner. Desperation saturates and haunts it, and clogs its arteries and twists its nerves and blows smoke into its corridors, and fear burns its edges and memory tarnishes it. It's a miserable album, a soul murdered. It may seem perverse, but that's actually praise. Think about it: sometimes, misery seems to be our only companion. Sometimes we feel alone and helpless and scared, miles from anything warm or redeeming. Sometimes, hope is a joke and love is a vicious lie. Sometimes, we're staring into the abyss and as it opens up at as, as it grows wider and deeper, grabs at us. It's good to have music that reflects that, right? I mean, isn't Exile On Main Street a masterpiece because it does pretty much the same thing?
Well, sort of. Time Out Of Mind does indeed get points for its pitch-perfect articulation of desperation and loss. It loses points for pretty much the same reason. It loses points because it doesn't offer an ounce of hope, because it takes the low road and simplifies all of the humanity of our darkest moments. It's an album that whispers into your ear, "yes, you're right to be sad. Things aren't going to get any better." This hopelessness is the album's central conceit, and the result is a painfully one-dimensional listening experience. The greatest works of musical depression (the aforementioned Rolling Stones album, as well as such other classics as The Queen Is Dead and Dylan's own Blood On The Tracks) were masterpieces because they found a way to channel personal anguish into a sense of liberation- The Queen Is Dead did it by being poetic, Exile On Main Street did it by being ridiculously fun, and Blood On The Tracks did it by reveling in the overwhelming redemptive power of love, successful or otherwise. Time Out Of Mind just mopes. It's emotional sludge, a dull crawling slab of misery-for-misery's own sake. It doesn't offer hope or catharsis. It just asks you to wallow, to drift.
Three stars for effectively conveying that state of mind, for its bluesy textures and claustrophobic production, and for the tense, ominous "Highlands." Chalk up the less-than-perfect rating to its exhausting miserabalism and relentless melodrama....more info
- Both Depressing and Inspiring
It seems like Dylan's voice has changed when you listen to thisk record, but that's not unusual. His voice changes a lot from record to record, but it's always recognizably, thoroughly Dylan. The album is a bit dark and you can especially see that in the excellent "Love Sick" and "Not Dark Yet," but you can see some optimism, some hope in the song too. There is sort of a bluesy feel to this record that carries over to "Love and Theft," you know, kind of a sadness in these songs that are oh so honest they make your heart ache. This is both a very depressing and very inspiring record and only Bob Dylan could get away with something like that. Highly recommended, very highly recommended....more info
- Blues From Another World
Much of the cruel and jaded postmodern response engendered by "Time Out of Mind," inarguably the most inspired and vulnerable record of Dylan's later years, says far more about the audience than it does about the man. The suggestively titled "Time Out of Mind" is the work of a man out of his time; an embattled and solitary pilgrim wading the cool winds of a present in which Ashlee Simpson's debut album ranks as the #1 best-seller at Barnes & Noble. That the woman had her own television show before ever recording an album is even more condescending than the music itself: a vulgar onslaught of over-wrought production, kitsch passed off as authenticity and the kind of lyrics an angry 15-year-old scribbles on her dinner napkin after Daddy grounds her. Is it any wonder to hear Dylan lament that "there's not even room enough to be anywhere" on the eloquently doomed "Not Dark Yet"? In light of this current climate in which once-encouraging talents such as Jewel, Liz Phair and Sheryl Crow end up taking off their clothes and turning album covers into Playboy Centerfolds, the songs of a broken man moaning from "the dark land of the sun" with the "blues wrapped around my head" echo the primal screams of the broken-hearted just as accurately as the sighs of the dispossessed. "I'm strolling through the lonely graveyard of my mind," Dylan wails from somewhere deep inside the immaculate gloom of another raw confession. Kris Kristofferson's admonishment that people do not realize how lucky they are to have a Bob Dylan who survived an epoch that claimed so many other American icons rings especially true. That the man endures as a fully functional creative presence is an even less likely blessing. After traveling an unpaved road where the overlooked comforts available to so many -- anonymity, ordinariness, escape -- are exchanged for the disquietude of fortune mixed with fraud, it is only fitting that this late blues masterpiece would disclose not a man, but the shreds of him, those "pale strippings" Whitman wrote about. "Maybe in the next life I'll be able to hear myself think," Dylan screeches in fury and surrender. "The diplomat who carried on his shoulders a Siamese cat" has given way to a simple man whose "soul has turned to steel." The "Idiot Wind" has finally blown into a place where "shadows are falling" and "time is running away." If it doesn't sound like Byron, that's because it shouldn't sound like Byron. Just as any further production would have made a catastrophe of Neil Young's recent "Greendale," the vaguest suggestion of poetry would only distance both speaker and listener from the bitter ruin that is "Cold Irons Bound" or "Million Miles" and its plea to be rocked "'til there's nothing left to feel." As its many masterpieces suggest -- "Lou Reed's" unremitting "Berlin," for instance, or The Stones' "Sister Morphine" -- rock 'n roll was not necessarily meant to make you feel good, and it certainly is not reserved only for golden-voiced princes. Albums like "Blood on the Tracks" succeed not because they cheer us up, but because they acknowledge our hurt. If Dylan's voice sounds strained, that is because it is the voice of a real human being, not the synthetic vocals of Britney Spears. God help a world in which the live recordings of real people have drifted so far from commercial viability as to be called "dreary" or "most puzzling" by some of the reviewers here. "The air burns and I'm trying to think straight," Dylan yowls at the onset of "Can't Wait." Well, so am I, buddy. So am I....more info
- A shock out of nowhere...
Before "Time Out of Mind" appeared in 1997 Bob Dylan had not released any newly written material in seven years. Many cynical detractors thought, and hoped, that he had finally deflated to mush. Yes, they seemed to say, we knew he'd burn out and begin farting dust sooner or later! Now pay the fiddler! Truth is, following two albums of folk classics and an MTV "Unplugged" album even some fans began to wonder whether Bob had put his muse eternally out to pasture. Not to mention that, as the mortal sun sets, many artists eventually do run out of steam. And by that time Dylan had more than traversed his semicentennial. Who can blame a man for getting old? Time happens. But then suddenly a miracle. Like a Daniel Lanois theme to a resurrection film, "Time Out of Mind" magically condensed onto the half-full glass. No, onto the overflowing and deluging glass. And zowie what an album. And what a comeback (one of the most earth-shattering in a career of "comebacks"). The incredulous masses just couldn't believe that he still had it; that he hadn't rusted; that he kept re-inventing himself with such freshness. No rock star of Dylan's age has ever come back with such fervent Lazarus gusto. Some even rank "Time Out of Mind" on par with "Blood On the Tracks".
Much like that 1975 classic, "Time Out Of Mind" showcases the broken hearted hoping to die Dylan pining for lost love. He even sobs "like a fool". Most of the songs find him helplesly drowning in total anguish. "Love Sick" wags its tongue at the very notion of love. We've all done it. Fess up. But this puerile waggling covers a scorching truth: he's really sick of unrequited love. After all, when love works it revives completely. But when it doesn't it's worse than an enema. Some take succor from denial, as Dylan demonstrates here. This song open the album with a huge bang.
A vagabound theme runs through many of the songs. Classic folkies and bluesies hit the road as a lifestyle, too. Here Dylan "goes down the road feeling bad", he walks down dirt roads until his eyes bleed, he goes to Missouri, to New Orleans, Sugar Town, London, "gay Paree", the "lonesome valley", and "Boston Town". Dylan really does a lot of traveling on this album. But he confesses "I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still". The neverending tour? Throughout eleven songs Dylan paints life as a journey to nowhere. For well over an hour he mourns lost love and lost life. Well, no one claimed that "Time Out of Mind" makes a good bedtime story.
The sprawling "Highlands" finds Dylan openly envying youth and spitting on the "same rat race life in the same ol' cage". But some badly needed comedic relief comes to the rescue when he runs into the waitress in Boston town. At over fourteen minutes, it belongs in the rare category of epic Dylan songs (with "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" and "Joey"). The song closes, after more rambling an ruminating on the inexorable passage of time, with the line "And that's good enough for now". This line also closes the album. Well, "Time Out of Mind" is more than good enough for now. But in reality, and maybe in love, that's usually the attainable standard. That's how we often get by. With "good enough".
The murky themes reach their peak on Dylan's naked perusal of death "Not Dark Yet". The unforgettable line "I was born here and I'll die here against my will" applies to every one of us. Here Dylan fully examines the autumn of life that's "Not dark yet, but it's getting there." The song has an eerie feel to it that Lanois later used on Emmylou Harris' "Red Dirt Girl". This song, and "Cold Irons Bound" belong on the list of Dylan classics.
With this album Dylan again proves that he doesn't wear his solemn past on his sleeve. Musically, he even seems to have forgotten about this "glorious" past. Which arguably provides the key to his power of reinvention: he doesn't dwell on his musical past; he constantly looks forward. That's how revelations like "Time Out of Mind" happen. Unfortunately, his method also leads to the occasional clunker. But those few clunkers remain a small price to pay for albums like "Time Out of Mind". To make things more astonishing, the 2001 follow up "Love and Theft" was just as acclaimed by critics and fans. And now, in 2006, "Modern Times" has many kowtowing once again to the aging but forever young shaper of twentieth century music. It will take more than an army to stop this neverending tour....more info
- A Contrarian's View of Dylan
Bob's had a lot of comebacks. He's comeback from periods of waiting (the motorcycle crash that preceded John Wesley Harding, the break from touring or even releasing anything other than soundtracks and compilations before Planet Waves) periods of supposed weakness (the early `70s albums that came before Blood On The Tracks, the mid-`80s albums that pre-dated Oh Mercy!) and even periods of weirdness (New Morning breaking from the shadow of Self-Portrait, Infidels breaking from the dogma of the born-again albums). But certainly no Dylan album has had to make a return to the public consciousness of all three: the wait (the four years since Bob's last album, seven since the he last penned an original song), the weirdness (the two acoustic folk albums) and the weak (the critically reviled Under The Red Sky). All of that coupled with the fact that Bob nearly died during the release of Time Out Of Mind made this album a slam-dunk with the critics and fans when it came out. And as much as I hate to be seen as a follower - they're right: Time Out Of Mind is a great album. Plus its title taken from "Accidentally Like A Martyr" by Warren Zevon. "Dirt Road Blues", "Can't Wait" and "Million Miles" once again find Bob subverting the 12 bar blues paradigm. "Love Sick" and "Cold Irons Bound" are both scary cool tunes of which Daniel Lanois can really sink his teeth into. "Make You Feel My Love" is the kind of song you'd expect Billy Joel or Garth Brooks to think would make a big hit if only someone with a decent voice were singing it, completely ignoring the fact that it's the grit in Bob's voice that gives this otherwise syrupy song its power. Even the slower songs ("Standing In The Doorway", "Trying To Get To Heaven", and "'Till I Fell In Love With You") are as good as their counterparts on Oh Mercy!. Really the first hour of the album is one of my favorites, but then Bob has go into the 16 minute "Highlands", making Time Out Of Mind as long as the double-record Blonde On Blonde. And of all the Dylan epics, it's my least favorite. There are some good lines in here talking to the waitress, but we've got ten verses or so before we even get to the diner. The music in background is as uninteresting and repetitious as anything Bob's done. Just skip that song, and you've got Oh Mercy! part II. ...more info
- One of My Favorite Dylan Recordings
The production is murky and brooding, the lyrics are pensive and ruminating, but the music is entrancing and it rewards repeated listening. I love the wistfulness of Standing in the Doorway, the desperation undergirding "Million Miles," the resolute beat and melody of "Cold Irons Bound," and the spiritual yearning of "Trying to Get to Heaven." In that last song, I really like the line where he says "I've been to Sugartown,I've shook the sugar down, now I'm trying to get to heaven before they close the door." I do not know if the lyrics are biographical, but they are befitting a man who has just had a serious health crisis and is about to turn 60.
This album doesn't rock with abandon like "Love and Theft" or "Highway 61 Revisited." But it is a catchy and thought provoking reflection on life and mortality, and I highly recommend it....more info
- Dylan's Most Personal, Most Painful Album
Many dylan fans believe "Blood on the Tracks" to be Dylan's most personal album, his most painful. But this record tops that. I don't know what he was going through in his personal life when he wrote these songs, but it must have been bad. At least that's the way it seems to me. Darkly personal from a man who is hurting, that's the sense I get from this record, from "Love Sick" all the way through to "Highlands," which I consider to be just about one of the best story songs every written or performed by anyone, bar none. Dylan sings like he's taken a down turn since "Oh Mercy," the last record produced by Daniel Lanois. In between there were a couple albums of standards, blues and ballads, plus the Bootleg Series and Unplugged show, also Red Sky, which was pretty good, but not nearly the record this is. It's almost like Dylan went straight from "Oh Mercy" to "Time Out of Mind" and the transition is seemless. This is a beautiful record, darkly done, but beautiful nevertheless....more info
- A masterpiece of blues
Plenty of people have attacked this album for lack of melody and poor lyrics. I would ask these people how familar they are with the blues. Time Out Of Mind is a latter day blues masterpiece, not blues-rock, but straight ahead blues. Even though the 12 bar form is only to be found on one of the tracks (Dirt Road Blues), the entire album is the work of a man who has lived the blues and travelled in the paths of the old bluesmen and folk travellers. The way Dylan sings on this album is the true gem. He's the quintessential bluesman, down and dirty but detached, he knows what's wrong and he's using blues to try and get outside of the problems. People who find something like this boring would probably be better off just buying a straight rock n roll record and leave this one to the music fans who truly takes emotional catharsis in hearing this beautiful, almost primitive type of music.
Yes this record is a masterpiece. Dylan's howl is the dust from the trail of the world that has gone wrong. His phrasing is suberb (from Can't Wait for instance, listen to how he howls "Your loveliness has wounded me I'm reeling from the blow" or "I'm breathing haard standing at the gate") and the he gives every word on the album a life of its own. No these aren't the lyrics of a energetic 23 year old who likes word play (buy Bringing it All Back Home or Highway 61 Revisited if you want that) but they are the words of a man who has dedicated his entire life to his love of American folk and roots music. The lyrics are one more step in the folk process that Dylan so loves, he has absorbed the words of American musical tradition and continued a heritage that defined American music until the disposable pop age (ex "I'm just goin' down the road feeling bad" from Tryin' To Get To Heaven, a line found in many traditional songs). A modern listener who is used to the catchy melodies of modern music may be turned off by this album, but that's just because so much of an American musical heritage has been forever lost in this country. I'm only glad that Dylan at least still is aware of the traditions that not only gave birth to rock n roll, but defined the very lives of thousands of people over the centuries ...more info
- Mortal Character
In this album, you see a man raw and cut apart as if by a broadsword. It doesn't matter if you've just lost your love, or if it has been five years or more... most will feel the hurt again... and I think that's the point. This is great Dylan, but it may be set apart from previous releases due to its honesty and mortal character. This may explain the low ratings by other reviewers. I tell you, though, for listeners of Dylan with an undiscerning palate, this is terrific music. It is in my personal top 10. ...more info
- The best album of the 1990's....
In the era of grunge, boy bands, brainless female pop stars, bad indie rock, and just a crappy decade in general, came this masterpiece from Bob Dylan. This album came from its own time, like all of Dylan's work. This was a watershed when it came out. Dylan hadn't produced any new material in 7 years (the last album of new stuff he had done was Under the Red Sky, a mediocre album), and many weren't really paying attention to him anymore. This album came out in 1997 and it really blew everyone away. Not only was it a real work of art in a decade that didn't have too many of them, it re-established Dylan as the master that he is. There is not one throwaway track on it. Every song is a masterpiece. The album has an epic quality like much of Dylan's best work, and it has some of the greatest songs he's ever written. Cold Irons Bound, Love Sick, Trying to Get to Heaven, and the epic Highlands are the best, but the rest of them are damn amazing too. Elvis Costello said this was Dylan's best. A lot of people gave him flak for it, but he's pretty close. If it isn't Dylan's best, it's in the top five. It's the best album of the 1990's, deep, profound, moving, sad, sincere, and honest. Fantastic work...
- Elvis was right...
...Costello that is. Who once said that he thought this was Bob Dylan's best album. Everyone guffawed at Costello's hyperbole at the time. I mean better than 'Blood on the Tracks'? 'Highway 61 Revisited'? 'The Times They Are a Changin'? 'Blonde on Blonde' for God's sake? Well now it's nearly 10 years old and it just gets better and better. It doesn't have the shock factor that those earlier issues had but rather it just seeps into you over repeated listening. It's subtle and quietly profound. It's the best album he ever made. ...more info
- Great album, but Dylan has done better.
Okay, I like this one, Love & Theft is good, and I have yet to hear Modern Times though it's on my wishlist. Are we looking at a new golden age for Dylan here?
Anyhoo, Time out of Mind is certainly a sobering record, containing meditations on mortality, lost love, all that good stuff. But it's not a dreary, depressing record. Why? Dylan's deadpan sense of humor holds through, a fact some people tend to overlook. Key songs include Love Sick, Standing in the Doorway, Not Dark Yet, Cold Irons Bound and the mini-novel Highlands.
A few downsides? Dylan's voice is a big one - I actually didn't mind it on his 60's records, because it was appropriate for what he was singing (come on, can you imagine Marvin Gaye singing Subterranean Homesick Blues or Like a Rolling Stone?). But years of smoking have caught up to him, and it's extremely gravelly. Granted, it fits what he's singing, but it can get on the nerves. His backing musicians are nowhere near what they used to be - why can't he revive the Highway Sixty-One Revisited group? - but that's about it.
Also recommended Dylan:
Blood on the Tracks
Highway Sixty-One Revisited
Bringing It All Back Home
Blonde on Blonde
Another Side of
Love & Theft
And, just for fun, Dylan to steer clear of:
John Wesley Harding
The crappy Born-Again Christian Records
Knocked Out Loaded
Down in the Groove...more info
- good stuff
I didn't care for Love & Theft at all, but Time Out Of Mind I thought was great. I have never really been a true fan of this guy's music (with a few
exceptions, etc.) until I heard this album...and then I went and got hold of some of his other stuff.
The Essential Bob Dylan is another CD I would highly recommend....more info
- Riddles and Enigmas Abound
Eight years since "Oh Mercy," and once again Bob Dylan calls on Daniel Lanois to produce a record. This one wins a Grammy and shows the world Bob Dylan is still a force to be reckoned with. This is an eerie, kind of psychedelic and very dark record. Dylan's voice even sounds dark, as dark and bare as the lyrics. Songs of no hope and a lot of hope, dreary, dank, dark, but seemingly always with a ray of hope shining through. "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Yeah, it's getting there. Riddles and enigmas abound in this record that won a Grammy and if you give it a listen, you'll find Bob Dylan's riddles both easy and impossible to decipher, but such is the nature of the man....more info
- Minding time
Strong comeback which helped Dylan regain some relevance isn't completely unique, as it does rehash a few tired blues themes repeatedly, but with at least half the disc offering positive new compositions guided by absolutely accentuating production, even the extended rambler of Highlands makes sonic sense when through the throaty cynicism of our lead. ...more info
- How Do You Rate a Dylan Release?
With a career now pushing towards the 50 year mark and a host of bonafide classic albums, how do you rate a CD by Bob Dylan? Do you rank it against its period or against the whole body of his work? It's difficult to just rate it as a single CD without taking in the context or his whole career or his "mystique".
Comparing TIME OUT OF MIND to his early works to me is an apples to oranges equation. He was a different person in 1965 from what he was in 1997. The 97 version was coming off a period of low activity as well as a near fatal illness, where the early Dylan was basically taking on the world. The defiance that marked his early work had changed here into defiance against age and death. As such, this CD captures that feeling very successfully. He followed this with two other fine releases, LOVE AND THEFT and MODERN TIMES, but this is the superior of that trio to my ears.
Teaming again with producer Daniel Lanois who oversaw his comeback album OH MERCY, Dylan brings a strong set of dark songs that he matches to some very evocative backing music. I would say that this is his strongest set since BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, which he released over 20 years before. The opener LOVE SICK sets the tone for the rest of the CD. Over a choppy, slow crawl, Dylan ruminates on love in the twilight of life. The Cd is full of great songs that follow pretty much in this vein. My favorites are TRYIN' TO GET TO HEAVEN, NOT DARK YET, STANDING IN THE DOORWAY and the rockabilly flavored DIRT ROAD BLUES. It ends with a 17-minute free associative dirge HIGHLANDS that acts as a perfect coda.
Detractors might say that the album is one note, filled with depressing dirges, or might mention Dylan's admitingly blown out voice. I feel the album plays as a consistent whole, with the grim tone perfectly underlining the artist's message. Dylan's rough vocals also drive the point home. Of course, I am a fan of Tom Wait's vocals, so take that for what it's worth.
To me, TIME OUT OF MIND is a classic album, one of the jewels in Dylan's vast and esteemed catalog, and my admiration of it has grown in the over 10 years that I have owned and listened to it. Just don't ask me to choose if it's a better album than HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED or BLOOD ON THE TRACKS.
- Time Out of Mind
This collection brings up feelings you may wish you had forgotten, making it a little hard to hear if the moment is not just so..but it's real 'Bob' through and through. I bought the remaster to hear it again after a long hiatus, because it is purported to be part of a trilogy that will include 'Love and Theft' and the new release 'Modern Times' due out the end of August 2006. Sometimes I miss 'baby Bob' with his beautiful acoustic sets, harp, baby fat cheeks and crazy-making soft lips...but that Bob is in here too, just a little older, a little harder, heartbreakingly wiser...like of a lot of us I suppose. ...more info
- Tiresome time in Dylan's mind
Dylan's sound has always seemed to the stuff that drunken bars are made of: wood all over the place, knock-knock-knocking barstool bores.
Undoubtedly cooler closer to his time (the 60's), the times have continued a-changing. No longer the naughty moody boy who turned the Beatles onto dope and extended the lone middle finger to any establishment that cared to notice him, the folk anti-hero is still here, or was in 1997 anyway, when he released this "comeback" album much heralded by sycophantic critics. There were no shortage of "prizes" as well to give it additional cred.
So then, how does it feel?
Well, the first thing one notices on "Love Sick" is how nakedly, hauntingly...BAD the man's voice has become (not that it was ever much good anyway). All those years of put-on vocalistics, loud, mosquito-like droning into mics, clearly must have taken its toll. On "Time out of Mind" we have the voice unplugged, stripped to its horrible quivering rawness. The softer the singing, the deeper the cracks.
It's painfully juxtaphosed on this opening track with orchestral backing which gives an embarrassingly grandiose feel to the cornflake narrative of (Dylan) being "sick of this kind of love."
The next track, "Dirt Road Blues", promises the obvious, and then delivers some - a monotonous bandwagon riff that sounds like a cover version of another cover version of a pub standard belted out by a beer-bellied outfit in some seedy bar on a badly-attended night. Wonder if Dylan would stay seated for this one live.
As the album crawls on, things don't look up. More ballads about a lovesick Dylan being left standing in doorways and so on. By the time the tenth track, "Can't Wait" comes along, one really can't wait - for the album to finish. "My eyes are so tired, my brain is so wired", sings Dylan on "Love Sick." That's exactly how the listner feels after this tiresome time in Bob Dylan's mind....more info
- definately awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i love this album!definately top 5 material[with blonde on blonde,bringing it all back home,nasville skyline,and rge freewheelin bob dylan].anyhow,it starts off with a broken hearted "love sick".you can hear the age in his voice from earlier albums but rust never sounded so good!"standing in the doorway"was a very sad song about being left.see?i told you he does gis best work upset."trying to get to heaven" [before they close the door] is great stuff too.he is far darker and moodier on this album,but i love it."till i fell in love with you" and "make you feel my love" are powerful songs as well.the last great dylan album om aware of......................... ...more info
- Easily his greatest album since BLOOD ON THE TRACKS
I forget which one of the Beatles answered when asked if they would still be listened to five hundred years from now that the only performer of his generation he was certain would be was Bob Dylan. I agree with that opinion, but for the longest time it looked like the jokerman was not after BLOOD ON THE TRACKS have another album that could stand comparison with his great work of the sixties. Who would have thought that when he did match that earlier work, it would be with an album that was more focused on aging and the ending of life than on anything else.
This is a somber, reflective, deeply introspective collection of songs. Rock and roll has never been a genre that has focused on death, except in the going down in a ball of flame sorta way. But here there are no balls of blame. He isn't exactly going gently into that good night, but he isn't quite raging either. While many of the songs evoke these feelings of loss and the passage of life, the highpoint is clearly the extraordinary "Not Dark Yet." No one who has read Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" knows how to spot a metaphor for dying (Frost actually denied that it was about death, but few have believed him) and it isn't hard here to know what Dylan is writing about. Shortly before the period in which Dylan was writing the songs for this album he suffered an extremely serious illness that landed him in the hospital and could easily have brought about his death. Perhaps the consciousness of how fragile his own life is is reflected in this song. He isn't in despair and he isn't welcoming death. As he sings, "I was born here, and I'll die here, against my will." But he is aware that the end is near. It isn't dark yet, but it is getting there.
But Dylan has always had individual great songs on even his weak albums. Even largely dreadful gospel album SHOT OF LOVE nonetheless had the serenely beautiful "Every Grain of Sand," one of his greatest post-sixties songs, while the slightly better NO MERCY has "The Man in the Long Black Coat." Here, however, every cut on the album is a winner, and several of them are standouts. The organ-driven "Cold Irons Bound" is one of the grittiest songs he has ever done, while "Love Sick" opens the album and sets the tone of all that follows. One of my favorites is the sadly nostalgic "Standing in the Doorway," one of Dylan's finest love songs in a long time. The nostalgia comes not over the sense of love lost, but the memory of love lost. It is addressed to a former lover who left him (standing in the doorway) and while he has gotten over the hurt and may not even feel any bitterness, he is deeply conscious that her loss left his life changed forever. The song contains many lovely lines and Dylan's voice, ravaged by decades of heavy cigarette smoking, rasps out expressively every one. On paper the lines:
Last night I danced with a stranger
But she just reminded me you were the one
but in the context of the song you hear the loss and yearning underneath. The album ends with one of Dylan's great rambling epics, "Highlands," the heart of which is an encounter he has with a waitress in Boston. Their dialogue reminds one of how very funny Dylan can be. My favorite part might be the waitress's apparent accusation of sexism after she dislikes the portrait she has badgered him into drawing:
"That don't look a thing like me!"
I said, "Oh, kind miss, it most certainly does"
She says, "You must be jokin.'" I say, "I wish I was!"
Then she says, "You don't read women authors, do you?"
Least that's what I think I hear her say,
"Well", I say, "how would you know and what would it matter anyway?"
"Well", she says, "You just don't seem like you do!"
I said, "You're way wrong."
She says, "Which ones have you read then?" I say, "I read Erica Jong!"
Dylan had never really left the public consciousness before the release of this album, but it certainly reestablished him as the dominant artist of his age. It pretty much swept the various awards the year it came out and the great news is that it truly deserved them. Will Dylan come out with another album this good (some think that 2001's LOVE AND THEFT was on that level, but I think it is a notch or two below)? I don't know. He clearly at this point is intent on getting his house in order, writing his ambitious multi-volume autobiography (the first volume was excellent) and cooperating in the superb Martin Scorcese documentary NO DIRECTION HOME. He clearly isn't turning albums out at the pace he once did, instead taking time to craft a group of well written songs. But few performers from the sixties are even turning out original material these days, instead relying on their already well-established catalog of hits (there are exceptions, like Richard Thompson, the Glimmer Twins, Neil Young, and recently Neil Diamond). But I suspect that Dylan has too much pride to not try to turn out at least one more masterpiece. I believe he wants to go out proving once again what he truly is: the dominant creative artist of the rock and roll generation....more info
- Strong, low-key album, worth looking into
This was one of the first CD's I listened to when I was first exploring Dylan's music, and it was very difficult to get through. I blame mostly myself, but at the time, the music felt too slow ('too much of a drag,' I would've said), and I couldn't warm myself to Dylan's voice. If you only know Dylan through his 60's work and, say, "Blood on the Tracks," I can say from personal experience, hearing his 90's-era voice can be a challenge. It's a credit to Dylan's phrasing that he makes it work, but to someone green on Dylan, it will be an acquired taste.
Once you get used to the ragged, raspy qualities of his voice, everything starts to fall into place: you learn to appreciate the phrasing, the words, and then the soundscape. This is a very low-key, late night album, and in the right mood and setting, this album will sound incredibly evocative. There's a feeling of restlessness, dejection, cynicism, and desperation that runs through the songs, and under most circumstances, that would be a recipe for disaster, but Dylan makes wonderful music out of these dark, moody colors. I've heard some say the album reflects his feeling of mortality, but I think that's just a minor theme here. Most of the songs are sung like a man who's become detached, and being completely aware of this yet unable to do anything about it. On "Highlands," the epic closer, he seems to face up to the fact that he may not 'get it' anymore, feeling out-of-touch, and his muse possibly drying up. Later efforts like "Love & Theft" dispute this. but through the course of this album, it's very compelling to hear Dylan take stock of himself in this way.
These songs didn't jump out at first, these are low-key songs that take time to really love, and upon repeated listening, you can understand why this CD could be considered a masterpiece. Better than the released versions of "Infidels" and "Oh Mercy," it really was a resurgence this time around. Lanois's production, much darker and moodier than the one he applied to "Oh Mercy," seems like a natural fit for these songs, as well. If there's anything here that breaks the spell, it's "Make You Feel My Love," which sounds so lyrically out of place and so sappy, you'd wish Dylan had replaced it with "Girl From The Red River Shore," which has yet to see the light of day.
Regardless, there are plenty of highlights: "Love Sick," "Standing In The Doorway," "Tryin' To Get To Heaven," and "Not Dark Yet" are the best. "Cold Irons Bound" drags on a bit, and Dylan would later do it justice with another band on the "Masked & Anonymous" soundtrack - that version is a classic. The only other duff track besides "Make You Feel My Love" is "Highlands." 16 minutes long, the first and last parts of the song aren't bad. It's the six minutes in between that bog it down, the awkward story about a waitress who forces the narrator to display his art when he just wants a meal, only to reject his work, and then accuses him of being out-of-touch with women's writing. Pretty sly, if you know Dylan, you know where he's getting at, which is why I feel bad for dismissing it, but the verses are just too clumsy. Some fans really love it the song just for that part, though, so take that into consideration.
A mid-priced disc, it's definitely worth the price. Just give it time to grow on you....more info
- Unquestionably one of his masterpieces
A lot of people might say that nothing can compare to Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Highway 61 Revisited, or a handful of other Dylan albums. I say it does, and in many respects, Time Out of Mind is actually better than anything he's ever done. Here we have Dylan reflecting on the passage of time and his own mortality, while seemingly being out of his mind(hence the title?). If you already have several of his masterpieces, but thought he faded out sometime back, add this to the Dylan masterpiece collection....more info
- Bob does reggie!!!
OK Pe-OPLE, so I dont own this one...YEt, I did spend time listening to the samples and my impression is that this music sounds like REGGIE music. The kind of thing you put on, invite some friends drink some drinks with pineapple and little umbrellas in em and have a party. Put on shades and strut around in you Hawaiian shirt.
Also, if you like Reggie music, listen to Jacob Marley.
- Time out of Mind review
As is typical with Dylan,if there is at least one or two really good selections on the album it is worth it.....my two favorites are "It's not dark yet" and "Standing in the Doorway". J.K....more info
- Bob Still Has It!!!
If you're looking for the 1960's Bob Dylan style music, this is not it, but you will love this CD. The music is a little dark, but I really loved it!!! Bob has demonstrated his ability to change with time and his talent is solidly intact. My favorite song was "Standing in the Doorway." It pulled at my heart...I wanted to hug him. "Love Sick" was the darkest song, and you can feel his contempt. You'll also love "Feel My Love" in which he expresses his emotions beautifully. Buy this CD...you will love it too....more info
- mind numbingly sad
An absolutly INCEDIBLE album from the master himself. Music doesn't get sadder than this!
As you go through the album from start to finish, you will just become more and more depressed. I know that sounds like a bad thing but if your like me, and you find the sadder a song the more beautiful it is, then this album is for you; simple as that. Pure desperation, and confusion of a world that has left this old man behind. I keep coming back to this masterpiece.
Love Sick, Standing in the Doorway, Tryin' to Get to Heaven and Not Dark Yet are the real killers the last being my favourite off the album maybe my favourite Dylan song full stop?
In short, if you're a Dylan fan and you don't own this album BUY IT...
If your new to Dylan, and you're looking for a great place to start BUY IT... :) ...more info
- Not Outta Nowhere
This album was no "shocker" to those of us who have continued to appreciate Bob Dylan as the most relevant cultural voice in America...since the early-sixties, enduring periods of directionlessness and bemusement--but always with at least one eye on integrity and eros. The two albums of recrafted standards and obsurities that preceded TOOM were superb (with World Gone Wrong a masterpiece). The hysterical response to TOOM was from those who hadn't been paying attention--and it was embarrasing.The transparent hyperbole was obviously to compensate for the audiences own failures. And, alas, they compounded it with a new failure: blind to the pain and alienation that permeates TOOM and to the inconsistency of the result. TOOM certainly contains three masterpieces--Not Dark Yet, Standing in the Doorway, and Trying to Get to Heaven (and maybe a fourth, the epic Highlands). But, it also includes three very bad songs/performances: Million Miles, Dirt Road Blues and the absolutely dreadful (and out-of-place to boot) Make You Feel My Love. While TOOM's two successors, "Love and Theft" and Modern Times may not have a singular masterpiece between them, they are both superior records. "Love and Theft" particularly, with it's pastiche of American life from the Civil War to the Present is a unique creation in the history of American Music, the work of a man who is making a committed effort to come to terms with his lifetime of experiences and his status as an elder among us. TOOM resists and laments, Modern Times boasts and poses,nearly frozen in time and place; "Love and Theft" is the record that embraces age and the ages, that celebrates the ways in which culture, geography and tradition sustain us as they rob us of our freedom and wild nature. Time Out of Mind brings us to the mirror and shatters it. It's successor repairs that mirror. As it does so it drags us through to the other side and encourages us to look back without fear, but with creativity and courage--Lot's wife's fate not withstanding. Buy 'em all. ...more info