Thursday, March 13, 2008

No. 408: Time Out of Mind

Band: Bob Dylan
Album: Time Out of Mind
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The record is the first of Dylan's recently lauded albums and it does not disappoint. The album's tone is darker and the production is better than Dylan's 1990s work.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Dylan decided he didn't care about anything, I think, and started just stringing weird phrases together. Also, his voice remains terrible.
Best song: "Not Dark Yet" is good.
Worst song: "Highlands" is too long and not good.
Is it awesome?: Nope.

Two things come up when talking about Bob Dylan:

  • At some point, Bob Dylan stopped caring about being Bob Dylan and decided to be a totally incomprehensible version of Tom Waits.

  • At some point, critics stopped caring about what Dylan was actually doing and decided to cast all his work as great.

I'm not sure if the second point builds off the first, but the second point is more in effect now than it was when this record came out. Maybe this record made critics realize that Dylan was turning into Tom Waits.

Whatever happened, "Time Out of Mind" is a pretty decent record, though one that is wildly overpraised. Dylan himself has said he wasn't comfortable with the band and there are tons of stories of Dylan screwing with the band.

In fact, "Time Out of Mind" is an odd juxtaposition for a Dylan record. It's wonderfully produced by Daniel Lanois, with an atmospheric tone and cool stylistic choices ("Love Sick," in particular, sounds like a Waits record), but the lyrics are anything but Dylan-esque. "Dirt Road Blues" is a similar situation. The lyrics are OK, but the fast-paced 12-bar blues of the song is loose and fun.

"Not Dark Yet" is the example of such a wildly overpraised song. It's a great sounding song, but the lyrics are of no real quality relative to Dylan's work. The macabre, introspective song was heralded as a work of genius when, in reality, is was simply a pretty decent production job.

It's not, by any means, a great record. It's nice and it's a cool little look into the man, but it's hardly close to any of his earlier work.


Not for nothing, but "Time Out of Mind" is Bob Dylan's 30th (!) studio albums. That's just really impressive.

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