The Mountains of the Past

Together Through Life

Together Through Life

The good people at bobdylan.com are giving away the lead track from his forthcoming new album, Together Through Life, until ‘5am’ tomorrow – I assume that’s EST, but take the risk at your peril.

What to say about “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”? The first thing to note is that, of the records of the late trilogy, it shares more in swampy spirit with Time Out of Mind than “Love and Theft” or Modern Times. Lyrically, it’s nothing to write home about, though again its emphasis on melancholy love harks back to Time Out Of Mind (whilst it might also be a sceptical reflectioof the hopeful tone of  “Beyond The Horizon” from Modern Times). Yet in one way it is noticeably different from the songs on that record, and that separation lies in the song’s most noticeably characteristic: its swing, its rock ‘n’ roll swagger. The Cajun squeezebox sweeps the song along nicely, but the tacits, cued by slammed snare, and peeling guitars lend the song a sultrier quality than the downbeat shuffles of I or even the straight-ahead Chicago blues with which Modern Times began, whilst that sliver of gospel ensures it also has a spiritual glint in its eye.

It’s hard not to avoid the suspicion that Dylan has been watching The Wire, though: the song’s tonal, structural and musical similarities to Way Down In The Hole are obvious. Modern Times was greeted withs some controversy on this score, and you’re left wondering what Together Through Life will bring in terms of songwriting. If what’s on offer in that regard in Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ is meagre by Dylan’s standards, then the sound – its shimmy and shimmer – still more than whets the appetite.

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3 thoughts on “The Mountains of the Past

  1. Listening to this for the first time right now. I kinda dig it’s swing, the percussion’s wonderful, and the accordion’s a nice touch…but Dylan seems to be taking his cue from Tom Waits here, whether he’s been watching The Wire or not, and I’m not sure we need two Toms.

    Further controversy can be found here re: the album cover’s photohttp://www.aquariumdrunkard.com/2009/03/30/bob-dylan-beyond-here-lies-nothin-new/

    Oops.

  2. Bob Dylan in ‘ripping people off’ shocker! As you say, the execution is very nice, but the jury has to be out on whether it’s honest…

  3. Pingback: The Use of Dreaming: ‘Together Through Life’ as Sidestep « @ Number 71

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