Recommended CDs

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Correction: New Dylan Album Is Down in the Groove Revisited!

A Columbia spokesman has now confirmed that nine out of the ten songs on Together Through Life were co-written with Robert Hunter.

The liner notes will read “All music by Bob Dylan except ‘My Wife’s Home Town’ (music by Bob Dylan and Willie Dixon) - All lyrics by Bob Dylan with Robert Hunter except ‘This Dream Of You’ which is lyrics and music by Bob Dylan.”

If you remember, Bob's main reason for going into the studio was to record a song for a forthcoming movie. He seems to have enjoyed the experience enough to have wanted to make a complete album. Or maybe he just wanted to cash in on his recent commercial success.

Quite clearly, he didn't have much other material in the tank, hence the "collaboration." What would be interesting to know is: whether this is a real collaboration, or whether Bob just raided the Robert Hunter notebooks for unused lyrics (presumably rejected as second-rate or unfinished by Hunter himself), as he did with Silvio and the unspeakable Ugliest Girl in the World on the near-disastrous Down in the Groove(1987)* (*liking a couple of songs does not change my view of that album as a total failure as an album).

The sneaky point is that Hunter can write a reasonable pastiche of second-rate Bob (Silvio is like an inferior Up to Me), so that many people have difficulty in distinguishing between the two.

Robert Hunter is of course an accomplished lyricist in his own right, who should not be judged on rejected offshoots of his pen mined for the use of a lyricist whose own muse has deserted him. A genuine collaboration between Dylan and Hunter (i.e. one in which they actually sat down together to cook up a song or songs) could, in fact, be a very interesting affair. Alas, my head tells me that Together Through Life will consist of rehashed cast-off lyrics, no doubt with equally "borrowed" and derivative music (Otis Rush has already been identified as the source of the music for "Beyond Here Lies Nothing", while the great Willie Dixon, the self-styled "poet of the blues" and the most significant blues writer of the 20th century, is actually honoured with a co-writing credit for the music of one song).

Please note, that the title of this blog entry is somewhat tongue in cheek, and of course, I may turn out to be pleasantly surprised by Together Through Life, collaboration or no.


Anonymous said...

As always, well put. We'll just have to see, of course, how good the songs are when we hear it all in a week or two. From the two songs I heard and the few snippets of the rest of the songs floating out there, I'm sensing that it will be much better then that low point of 'down in the groove'... but not up there as a great recent dylan album such as 'love and theft'. Collaborator or no, I'm looking forward to hearing it, tho. It may have less 'pure dylan' on it, but that didn't seem to hurt 'desire', of course. It's too bad Bob in the most recent interview with Flanegan didn't shed more light in the collaboration process, tho what he did say seemed to indicate Bob was in the driver's seat more of the time, unlike the 2 'down in the groove' songs....
My sense is that it's going to be on the whole a more enjoyable album then the last one (modern times) but still a somewhat minor dylan album. Only time will tell!
- mike

Bernard said...

Gee, I kind of liked "Ugliest Girl in the World."

Bernard said...

OK, so maybe he made a record that isn't up to your expectations. Sounds like you'd like to shoot him! In just the last ten years the guy's had more fantastic creative output (book, film, radio, all the while constantly creating new art while touring) than you'll have in your whole life. Who are you to second guess him? Well, Bob's been through this BS many times before.

Switchboard Stevie said...

Interesting, I didn't know that's how those two Down In The Groove songs were written. I had always assumed they were real collaborations. It's a little disappointing but that being said, "Silvio" and "Ugliest Girl In The World" are the only two songs from that album I like.

Mark said...

I appreciate your words of wisdom, but am far more likely to put stock in reviews from Mojo and Rolling Stone, as well as a number of listenings to this album. If you are tired of hearing who Bob is listening to or reading, then tune out. But, I suspect you just enjoy seeing your opinion in print, which is fine.
By the way, you may want to proof read what you post, or at least use a spell check. I believe it is tongue-in-cheek, not touch-in-cheek.

Anonymous said...

What a load of crap.

AK said...

i guess we'll see how it turns out. i haven't heard any of it. waiting to hear it all at once.

and mark, rolling stone and mojo are worthless shit. i'd much rather hear a fan's opinion than the opinion of a couple rags looking to snag advertisers. especially rolling stone, which hasn't been relevant for almost as long as it's been riding bob's jock.

Mark said...

Easy, AK. Don't get your panties in a bunch.