Time Out of Mind in utero
I would genuinely love to hear a Lanois re~mix of Love and Theft! The steamy cauldron mixes. It would only be fair. I really feel for him.
I think this is spot on....“If we consider TOOM as the third installment of a trilogy beginning with Good as I Been to You and World Gone Wrong—and that’s a pretty useful way of thinking about it—then Dylan has moved a step beyond covers and is now attempting to channel these bards for inspiration in original compositions, as if he were an old blind blues singer himself.”
Thanks Graley. Really enjoying your posts here.
Hey Graley, I finally had time to read this post carefully and digest. Great stuff, as always. I would love to read your book and now I see that it's nearly affordable at $30 on Amazon, so I will order it soon.
I have long heard the religious subtext on Time Out of Mind that you discuss here — the addressee of the song being on the surface a woman, but more convincingly, God. Of course it is transparent in "Tryin' to Get to Heaven":
You broke a heart that loved you
Now you can seal up the book and not write anymore
I’ve been walking that lonesome valley
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door
One thinks of Hank Williams, the "valley of the shadow of death" and the book of judgment all in this quatrain. As you point out, the "lexicon and prayerbook" in its proper context.
My forthcoming book has a chapter on the theme of spiritual loss or abandonment on "Tempest," and the idea is also crucial to my main subject, "Rough and Rowdy Ways." On the latter record, however, despair is overcome, while reconciliation, contentment, and fiery statements of belief come back to the fore. Here's one example, directly related to all your observations about the "eyes" on TOOM, and the blues masters that Dylan has long admired:
Radio signal clear as can be
I’m so deep in love I can hardly see
Down in the flatlands - way down in Key West
The "blindness" in this lyric from "Key West (Philosopher Pirate)" is no handicap. It is a requirement of faith (and so necessary in grief). Because you can't see "the Master" with your eyes. You can see all the beauty of Nature and Creation, but viewing the Source requires another kind of sense. One that Dylan describes as more like hearing: a "radio signal clear as can be." And of course he describes it that way. His prayerbook is song. In my chapters I discuss where I believe Dylan found the specific inspiration for these lines.
I look forward to reading Dreams and Dialogues because I think my book, titled I Don't Love Nobody: Bob Dylan at the End of Time, might share a few themes. Much of my analysis concerns how that "end of time," just begun in "Can't Wait," is now well along, and how we can hear it all through "Rough and Rowdy Ways." How those shadows that were falling in "Not Dark Yet" now surround the singer in "Key West," where he is "walking in the shadows after dark." How the singer appears resolute in his faith and his acceptance of mortality. He approaches the end with "A Satisfied Mind." Of course, that "end of time" has more universal connotations too.
I hope, as a writer fascinated by the hidden things in Dylan, "the art of the unsaid," as you put it, that you will be interested in my argument about the obscure origin of many of the lyrics in "Key West (Philosopher Pirate)." My discussion of the song's source material carries forward many of the ideas you have found in TOOM, and reveals, in specific detail, how the singer indeed still has the Lone Pilgrim (originally the "white pilgrim") very much on his mind.
I always look forward to your articles, Graley. Thanks for your work!