Thursday, 30 April 2009

Bob Dylan>LIfe is Hard

Bob Dylan appears to like ironic titles for his more recent albums. Take his previous release, Modern Times (2006), for example - clearly nothing modern about it since it's a collection of songs (mostly great songs!) based on structures and themes of times gone by. So what should we make of Together Through Life his latest effort? Well, not be taken in by the title that's for sure. I've been somewhat puzzled by a number of reviews that have suggested that Dylan is 'enjoying' himself on this album - I can only surmise that they've forgotten to listen to the lyrics and more importantly his voice. For me, Dylan's voice is usually the key to his albums and on this record it's ragged, scarred and suffering. And that's the image of 'togetherness' that Dylan is projecting through these songs - basically a 'togetherness' that is lost, betrayed and hewn with violence on a personal, spiritual and communal level.

According to his Bobness the inspiration for the album came from the track 'Life is Hard', a song he was recording for a movie soundtrack. The rest of the album followed in a rush, clinging to the coat-tails of this song. It's a terribly sad song that brings tears to my eyes as it weaves a tale about the loss of friendship and love and the resulting emptiness of life. Now, I have absolutely no evidence for what I'm about to write and yes it is a song for a movie, but I cannot help but project Bob Dylan into this song. The fact that this theme is picked up time again across the whole album I believe that Dylan is singing about his own spiritual loss - a dark night of the soul if you like.

Should I be worried for Dylan, then, when I hear this song? Perhaps, but then it's not the last word. A couple more songs to write about later...

The lyrics:
The evening winds are still I've lost the way and will
Can’t tell you where they went I just know what they meant
I’m always on my guard admitting life is hard
Without you near me

The friend you used to be, so near and dear to me
You slipped so far away, where did we go astray
I passed the old school yard, admitting life is hard
Without you near me

Ever since the day, the day you went away
I felt that emptiness so wide
I don’t know what's wrong or right
I just know I need strength to fight, strength to fight that world outside

Since we've been out of touch I haven't felt that much
From day to barren day my heart stays locked away
I walk the boulevard, admitting life is hard
Without you near me

The Sun is sinking low I guess it's time to go
I feel a chilly breeze In place of memories
My dreams are locked and barred admitting life is hard
Without you near me
Without you near me

Listen here:


Cosmo said...

Wow, what a beautiful sounding song. The way it ended I was expecting to hear a ripple of applause from a small crowd, like he was playing in some coffeehouse or bar.

I like how he adds to the dis-ease of the song through the jarring rhythm of his singing against the accompaniment.

I'll enjoy listening to this again.

Althea said...

Thanks for this post, I agree that there is something to the way that Dylan sings, and that there is something to the way he describes loss.

RJ said...

So glad to read your notes again. I have missed you. This is a deep time for brother Dylan, yes? I am just getting started with this one and will look forward to more reflections. Keep on rocking in the free world, my man. Thanks.