Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.

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faults in the clouds of delusion

Monday, October 23, 2006

an old familiar place

a new album from bobby. always an occasion. has been for forty years now.

i waited a while on this one – grabbed it, but not as soon as it arrived. then i let it lay, lay around my big brass bed. for a while. till the time. was right. and i was too. out of mind. late one evening. i cracked it open. i slipped it in.

i sat down and lay back, and took a long warm sip.

track 1. thunder on the mountain. opens with a rumble. sweet guitar sound, settles into an easy groove. bobby’s voice steps in. that old familiar place. i recognize. we’re back. where we’ve never been. today’s the day i’m going to grab my trombone, he says. remember this – i’m your servant both night and day.

i’ll say this i don’t give a damn about your dreams.

track 2. spirit on the water. light piano, bass entry. if i can’t love you i’ll throw my love into the deep blue sea.

the metaphor as cliché.

track 3. rollin’ and tumblin’. muddy waters. furious pace. old standard. suddenly new verses start pouring out. again we’re lost –- his mythical land, warm weather’s coming and floods all look high, and ain’t no question i’m going to satisfy this woman of mine.

sooner or later you too shall burn.

track 4. when the deal goes down. slow two-step. in the still of the night / in the world’s ancient light / when the world rose up in strife / we all wear the same thorny crown / i’ll be here when the deal goes down.

i heard a deafening noise / i felt the transient joys / i know they’re not what they seem.

the rebel as sage, the iconoclast as seer. bobby is older now. when my ship comes in has grown up. naked rage is now acceptance, maybe even tolerance, or hope.

track 5. someday baby. again a change of pace. aggressive rock rhythm. bit like further on up the road bit like someday baby ain’t gonna worry my life any more. first real lead guitar solo. confined to the left channel. someday baby you ain’t gonna worry over me any more.

he’s twisted it round!

he's twisted it round.

the cliché as metaphor.

what was hope now sounds like a threat. it's almost prophetic. a treble guitar ostinato picks up and makes the sound eerie despite the fast tempo.

track 6. workingman’s blues. too much blackness need relief. sweet piano flavored intro. bobby describes yet another scene. tells yet another familiar story. the master of desolation row. is sitting this way trying to keep the hunger from making its way into my shoes. why does this remind me of lit a fire on main street and shot it full of holes. sudden brainflash. there has been no harmonica yet. is this a break from the past? we're idiots, babe? sing a little bit of these workingman’s blues.

track 7. beyond the horizon. the first discordant opening. it lasts all of four notes. a standard rhythm settles in – is this that intentional? is he a puppet-master? do you see a gingerbread house? there's a pedal steel overlay. beyond the horizon / across the divide / round about midnight / we’ll be on the same side. almost like a lullaby. beyond the horizon.

someone’s praying for your soul.

the Elder is telling us his stories again. the same stories, with different words. the comfort of the familiar. the lure of the new. the ups and the downs. it's the third in his trilogy.

track 8 starts up. nettie moore. another story without a form. this isn’t about the words any more. it isn’t about meaning, or the message. this is about hypnosis. it’s about security. tracks 9 and 10. they roll on. i take another sip. i’m enveloped in the sensation. this isn't even about the music any more.

this is about an hour long visit to an old friend’s place.


*************

for a less right-brained review, go here. i think the two reviews are perfect complements (and we wrote them in parallel, beat that).

14 Comments:

Blogger km said...

Very cool. Esp. liked the "metaphor/cliche" switch.

I really haven't spent any significant time with the new album. Been saving it for the India trip.

I must admit, listening to "Love and Theft" when it came out, was a little scary. Old familiar place all right, but something had changed.

10/23/2006 7:04 AM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

a new album from bobby. always an occasion.
That is so true.
But like KM I havent spent much time with it - I'm still in my Turkopop phase...=P

10/23/2006 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nod.

Dylan used to be the master of surreal imagery and metaphor that somehow spoke to you, or else made you smile ("Yonder stands your orphan with his gun / Cryin' like a fire in the sun" or "It balances on your head just like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine / Your brand-new leopard-skin pill-box hat"). That's what I find lacking here. I'd call it "the cliché as cliché".

Zimmy himself says that if this is any part of a trilogy, it's probably the second. I guess the only thing it has in common with "Time out of mind" is that these three albums came after two decades of almost uniform garbage. So they seem like a return to form.

On reflection I'd take back the "best since Desire" remark I made. I liked "Time out of mind" better. (I haven't spent enough time on "Love and theft."

10/23/2006 6:11 PM  
Blogger Brazen Head said...

Ol' man's still got it.

10/23/2006 9:19 PM  
Blogger jhantu said...

i wont buy the cds and thus get spared from "bobbys" (btw has anyone ever called bob dylan bobby??) works..

that beats the both of u doesnt it!!

game , set and match

10/23/2006 10:38 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

km:
thanks. you like word play, don't you :-)

i agree, love and theft had a different sound. it's only now that it seems to be a part of the larger whole.

szerelem:
heh heh. truth be told, i've only listened to it once.

rahul:
i'd say it's a cliche as cliche (how do you get the accent on the key? old french keyboard?) except that it's not entirely a cliche, right?

i'd never take zimmy's words at face value :-D

bh:
i agree. and this it, no one else has.

jhantu:
i'm glad the review was useful to you. let's go bowling.

10/24/2006 12:31 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

ps. jhantu, yes, i believe lots of people have called him bobby.

including this from one of his early appearances (at a venue close to my heart, as it happens).

ANNOUNCER:
We're going to go back to our regular folk program and bring you now a fellow who's been around the New York area for about a year. He also performs in various coffeehouses. He plays the harmonica, he sings a lot of songs by Woody Guthrie, sings a lot of his own material. He comes from Gallup, New Mexico --- Bobby Dylan.


and just because you asked:

You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy,
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray,
You may call me anything but no matter what you say
You're gonna have to serve somebody

10/24/2006 12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tr -
how do you get the accent on the key?

When I need to, I have my methods, but on this occasion I cut-and-pasted from you... how did you do it?

10/24/2006 12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice review :) the voice leads u to a feelin' of familiar happiness..

10/24/2006 7:42 AM  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

Dylan is a habit I picked up from my parents, but was a little let down when I saw him live a couple of times recently.
He seemed a little addled and barely coherent. He got a bit animated for the finale with 'Like a Rolling Stone', but overall I got the impression that his rock and roll days were history.
Reading this, I guess he still has some juice left in him. Nice review.

10/24/2006 7:05 PM  
Blogger kundalini said...

mt - i read a quote by pete townshend on a recent flight that went something like - "no one wants to pay money today to listen to a bob dylan or me live." it sounded like he was advocating that people shouldnt. given a chance, i would definitely want to go.

i have heard dylan live once, back in '01 (incidentally, with tr). i built it up so much for myself, i was very disappointed. my mind would barely allow him the freedom to do a song differently, and it would not adjust for age.

tr, "modern times" passed through me fast but stayed with me longer than i expected.

10/24/2006 8:18 PM  
Blogger wildflower seed said...

Pete Townshend and Bob Dylan in the same league? :) Nice one!

Dylan's insistence on "tweaking" (trying to be generous here) his songs when he performs them live is legendary. I recall an interview of Jerry and Bobby (Weir, not Dylan) where the discussion drifted to the time that the Dead played backing band to Dylan. Bobby remarked that even though the band had practised some 150+ songs, they were always surprised whenever Dylan started to sing on stage. I recall Jerry chuckling heartily when this got mentioned. :D

10/24/2006 9:18 PM  
Blogger km said...

I don't believe in Zimmerman, but I do believe in Bobby :)

10/24/2006 11:39 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

rahul:
ha! that's funny. i hadn't noticed that i'd done it as well. i guess blogger has an auto-correct running for posts but not comments.

gift:
thanks. exactly. sometimes the familiarity breeds happiness.

mt:
exactly as WS says, dylan performances have huge variability. i saw him once at jones beach (an open air theater right next to the sea) during a very heavy summer rainstorm. went with WS -- dylan and phil lesh and friends double bill. not only did dylan play an astonishing first set, he played a five song encore. coupled with the atmosphere, it was absolutely unbelievable. and then there are other performances, such as the one kundalini referred to, which, frankly, i can't remember at all. in fact, i've seen him four times, of which two have been brilliant and two rather forgettable (one of which has, as you can tell, already been forgotten).

kundalini:
that's a nice way of putting it. he album does have a hook.

ws:
i also remember reading (maybe in blair jackson's book) that dylan was astonished that the boys remembered as many of his older songs as they did -- while he remembered precious few of them.

km:
subtle, subtle :-D

10/25/2006 12:55 AM  

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