Modern Times


Thunder on the Mountain: The song that begins the album, the pace is quick and the sound has undoubtedly blues undertones. The background instruments blend together nicely and the electric guitar stands out. Bob’s voice, at over 60 years old, sounds much different than the previous albums. It is weathered and grainier, but still undeniably Dylan. When he is singing, it falls off at the end of each line, becoming soft but with the beginning of the next line after an instrumental break it is back to full volume. The lyrics are filled with imagery and a collection of his past, with lines of escaping, death, and women. The end of the song is cool, with a big double finish.

Spirit on the Water:  A love song to a woman who doesn’t seem to be as head over heels as the singer, the lyrics reminded me of classic Dylan: filled with longing and simple but powerful imagery. The song is 7 minutes long and it never really reaches a distinctive climax, it just continues on with the pleasant piano keeping pace. The lyrics speak of being past his prime and wanting to be in paradise with her. He also sings of how he wants “what belongs to me” which is typical in Dylan songs but shows desired power of the women he sings of.

Rollin and Tumbin: I rolled and I tumbled and I cried the whole night long. A true blues song, the guitar is heavy and rich, and Dylan’s lyrics are unforgiving singing of lost money, loose women, and needing to get away. It has all of the required ingredients for a good blues song. The electric twang on the guitar stands out after the first few verses in the instrumental verse. I also found myself hearing a lot of Johnny Cash influence in the song, and the beat reminded me of “Folsom Prison.” Well I did all I know just to keep you off my mind/ But I paid and I paid and my suffering heart is always on the line. Whoever is breaking the heart of the singer in the song, whoever she is, I swear she’s so crazy I aint gonna touch another one for years. The song was very easy to listen to and one of my favorites on the album.

When the Deal Goes Down: Slow-paced and sounding dreamlike, the song focuses on prime, tomorrow, and death. The song offers a glimpse into the state of Bob Dylan at this point in his life, We eat and we drink we feel and we think…I laugh and I cry/ And I’m haunted by/ Things I never meant nor wished to say. The isolation and honesty stood out to me in this song, and it stands out on the album. I especially liked the electric guitar in the instrumental breaks, it is slow and calm and well matched with the mood of the song. The man is filled with regret in a sense as he nears the end of his life, but this woman he sings of offers refuge when the deal goes down. The song is strangely comforting, and I really enjoyed it.

Someday Baby: Upbeat and with a lot of electric guitar, the song tells the story of a tortured man who is left wishing he didn’t care about a woman who scorned him in the past, and who will most likely continue to do so in the present. He sings of one day getting even with her, even wringing he neck, but it seems that she still has the upper hand. She has a sort of power of him and he resents her deeply for it. When he was younger in the past, this type of situation used to excite him, but now, he cannot handle the pain.

Working man’s blues #2:  Well the place I loved best is just a sweet memory another song that sings of the past in a way that he knows he can never get it back. You got both eyes tied shut. Lyrically the song is moving and the instrumentals are impressive as well.  Sleep is like a temporary death he seems to be concerned with the amount of time he has left and doesn’t want to waste any of it. I can see for myself that the sun is sinkin the sun is present in many Dylan songs, and as he is getting older it seems to have become a metaphor for death.

Beyond the Horizon: The sun is once again a constant theme in this song. It is a song with heavy references to death and what lies on the other side after death. It seems to be a place where the struggles he had in life no longer exist. In the song he seems almost comfortable with dying, for what is promised to him is the love of a woman once he is gone. I really enjoyed the soft electric guitar, it adds a dreamlike sound and quality to the song.

Nettie More:  I loved you then and ever shall/ But there’s no one left here to tell/ For the world has gone black before my eyes. This is one of the heaviest on the album. The tragic tale and the way Dylan sings it when paired with the violin and other solemn instruments in the background are moving, especially when infused with the lyrics. I am standing in the light/ I wish to god that it was night. The song is deeply haunting and stays with you long after you’ve listened to it.

The Levees Gonna Break:  The song sounds a lot like Thunder on the Mountain. It’s another song that is deeply blues influenced and the lyrics coincide with the typical blues sound and instruments. It is pleasant, and easy to listen to. The undertones of death are there, although they’re not as black and white as other songs in the album. I look in your eyes and see nobody other than me/ I see all that I am and all that I hope to be.

Aint Talkin:  Burned out with the world, the singer seems to be displeased with what the world has become. Although still not comfortable with death, the song acts as a way to say that one day those who have scorned the world will get what is coming to them. He has become desensitized to the evil, and he continues on not talkin just walkin.

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