The next great Dylan resurgence is upon us.
It all began way back in 97 with Time Out of Mind the Daniel Lanois produced return to form, after the 89 Daniel Lanois produced return to form of Oh Mercy. Yet the one recurring memory I have of Time Out Of Mind’s sound is the Augie Meyers organ that pervades the album and let’s face it Augie perfected that sound before Lanois got out of short pants.
So Time Out of Mind is the turning point, the return to form, the rebirth of the songwriting talent of Bob Dylan, or maybe the cocaine ran out, who knows?
Either way he seemed to have moved away from the idea that he needed to have a plethora of guests on an album to make it relevant and stopped trying to be a pop star and concentrated on writing songs.
This was after all after his two records of folk and blues covers, some see as a stop gap of dealing with the lyrical drought that is perceived as happened in the mid to late 90’s. Maybe it was Zimmy’s attempt to get back to the roots, a solo retreat to the Big Pink on some level, there was no Band around this time just our boy, his guitar and the songs he cut his teeth on on some level, the recorded version of his radio show. That was somewhere in the future.
It was also at some point in the never ending tour that he had perhaps managed to exorcise some demons. Who knows it would take a Dylanologist to come up with a good enough theory as the man himself is not forthcoming with any semblance of the truth.
So we have some theories that are not worth the virtual paper they are written on, and a record that puts Dylan back on some sort of track. It helped that grunge had happened and the need to sound relevant was passé, it was more important to sound authentic, of course in order to do this Dylan made with Lanois what many consider to be in some way his most “artificial,” as in the sound could not be easily reproduced live, album.
Add to this some near death experience with a rare and strange heart condition and you get all the elements of a come back.
I have now listened about three times this week to this album, in the car, sat on the couch and walking the dog. Each time I hear a new lyric, a turn of phrase a comedic moment, a moment of tragedy and at times horror. Each time the record/stream stops I feel like the album is just out of reach, I don’t remember the songs until they start and then they are like old friends coming to sit and sip whiskey.
Not dark Yet, Cold Irons Bound and Can’t Wait along with Highlands are the stand outs, it is however a remarkably consistent album. It was twenty some years ago and it seems old Zimmy is still in his third, fourth or fifth come back and started the new century early.
I remember sitting there as the Y2K moment came and went, listening to Time Out of Mind as I watched the fireworks around the world waiting for the lights to turn off. For some reason this was the CD I wanted to be stuck in the CD player when the world ground to a halt. No turntable in those days as I was along with most of the world enamored by CD’s, there was however a box of records under the stairs.
It’s hard to think that this record is now twenty three years old. When it was released Dylan’s career had been twenty five years. In those twenty five years he released twenty nine albums. In the last twenty three years he has released ten, how things have changed.
As the Y2K bug never appeared it was on to the 21st Century with Dylan.