“A new birth with the old dogs under your arm, like a stack of classic books.” In the end, that rebirth was Time Out of Mind, Dylan’s 30th album and one that doesn’t sound much like the basic blues at all. Instead, it is an essential post-modern reappraisal of them, an experimental consideration of what could become of the blues’ sound and spirit and a mutual communion of articulate, exquisite despair.
In its four-star review, Rolling Stone noted the album “confront his advancing years and the prospects of failing health.” In a moment of too-soon chicanery, Newsweek ’s cover joked “Dylan Lives.” Through the cobwebs of his beleaguered voice, Dylan musters all the feelings of losing love, full of pride and insanity and lust and violence and humor, implicitly navigating the five stages of grief.
At the start of “Love Sick,” he shuffles through empty streets in the rain, a tangle of warped guitar, haunted organs, and faint drums aptly framing his bleak mood. But the first five minutes of “Love Sick,” which sound so preternaturally cool and ultimately unaffected that the song was immortalized in a Victoria’s Secret advertisement, are purely a pose.
After Dylan sashays through that last refrain, he collapses into the confession that sets the tone for most Time Out of Mind : “Just don’t know what to do/I’d give anything to be with you,” he sings, his voice now curdled. The band pulls back from the pulse and lets the melody dangle against the open air, as if they too are surprised by the sudden candor of their maestro.
For most of the next 70 minutes, that’s where he stays: Dylan’s misery is so exhaustive that, during “Dirt Road Blues,” he turns the sight of a rainbow into an instance of pain. “It’s such a sad thing to see beauty decay,” he half-howls during “Cold Irons Bound,” an aired litany of grievances that finds him losing most everything he holds sacred.
In early Time Out of Mind demos and outtakes, after all, Dylan practically sounds like Etta James, riding on top of his blues; on the record itself, he is pushing the words upward as an act of mere survival, letting them out, so he can breathe back in. As with the transmuted blues of Loren Connors or Grouper, Lanais lets Dylan flicker at the threshold of existence here, giving his troubles a sense of mortal urgency.
A month before Time Out of Mind arrived, Billy Joel turned the spare ballad “Make You Feel My Love” into a bombastic, string-swept single, shouting the lyrics and howling behind the harmonica like it was he who stepped onstage at Newport in 1965. Twin versions by Garth Brooks and Trisha Year wood sound tracked the 1998 room Hope Floats, while takes from Neil Diamond, Ed Sheeran, and Kelly Clarkson have followed.
But what is there on Time Out of Mind to suggest that Dylan had suddenly turned soft for three minutes, that he would dip so smoothly into guileless piano ballads? This is the sort of person your friends warn you about, the guy who shows up drunk at 3 a.m. and slurs drunken promises as he bullies the doorbell.
All the song’s romantic images about warm embraces and dried tears and self-sacrifice are purely hypothetical, things he “could” do if the subject would simply submit to his advances already. “I know you haven’t made your mind up yet, but I would never do you wrong,” he pleads, the trace of guilt in his voice vanishing as quickly as it appeared.
Time Out of Mind ends with “Highlands,” a brilliant and occasionally hilarious 17-minute shuffle that frames life’s endless numbered days as a string of largely meaningless moments. The total craft of Time Out of Mind, the dry spell that preceded it, and the saga that produced it collectively serve a cautionary function.
If you hadn’t given up on Dylan by 1997, you were either a zealot who would eke merit from most anything he made or a casual fan who had stopped paying enough attention to have a strong opinion. But the sophistication and nuance of Time Out of Mind work only because Dylan had become a wunderkind, gone electric, faced backlash, crashed his motorcycle, wrecked his marriages, found his faith, faltered in it, fathered a family, seen his kid become a rock star, lost old friends, wavered in relevance, and wondered if he cared about any of it anymore at all.
It will sonically transport you to a beach, clothing-optional and empty except for you and a companion, potentially romantic but at the very least copacetic, where you are not just chilling but “rigging up for winter.” I don't know what that means, but I'd help Colin Hay stack some driftwood and twine our palm leaf shelter together any day.
After reading about a woman who can lift things with her vagina, she wonders whether she can't coax her fanny to become more utilitarian. Remember that Nick Jr. phrase for a while, meant to placate seratonin-deprived, late-blooming Gen Hers and early-kid-having millennials.
She also admits the secret truth that every loving parent tries to hide from the world and herself. After a few weeks of helping to shape little people, she wants time off to kick it by herself or with her friends.
“I chew on carrots, then chuck them in the front yard so my kids think that reindeer ate them,” she writes. “There was this one year, right, that I put glitter in a jar of sultanas and I dropped them in little piles on the front driveway to look like magical reindeer shit.
Bridge When I see that cross I see freedom When I see that grave I’ll see Jesus And from death to life I will sing Your praise In the wonder of Your grace Having always been committed to building the local church, we are convinced that part of our purpose is to champion passionate and genuine worship of our Lord Jesus Christ in local churches right across the globe.