We live in a Political World: The song that starts the album off is catchy and fast paced. The song is lyrically strong, but not in the same way that Masters of War is. The pop feel to the background music and the change in Dylan’s voice creates a more low key affect that the intensity that was Masters of War. It’s a song that you could get away with playing at a party and not upset too many people because the lyrics are disguised by the up-tempo beat and tropical instruments.
Where Teardrops Fall: I really enjoyed the “Beach Boys” type of background twang on the guitar and breathy, coastal feel it gave to the song. The constant hum of the guitar chords in the background give the songs slow pace distinction and keep it from being boring. It’s a short song, but one with good imagery in the lyrics and is fairly easy to connect with because of the broad range heartbreak brings.
Everything’s Broken: The song recites a grocery list of everything in life that is broken. It ranges from chairs to fears and is backed with the sounds of an electric guitar and bongo drums. I liked the guitar rift, and the song is one that is easy to listen to, however it is once again a far departure from the Dylan we heard on the first 4 or 5 albums. The beat is up-tempo and it too is pretty short, ending soon after it begins.
Ring them Bells: The mood to this song is different than the others before it on the album, it is somber and the piano is at the forefront of the instruments. Dylan’s voice sounds tired and broken, but still strong. Ring them bells for all of us that are left/ Ring them bells for the chosen few/ Who will judge us when all of this is through . It’s easy to listen to and the piano is beautiful paired with Dylan’s voice. So far it is the stand out track for me on the album so far.
Man in the Long Black Coat: The harmonica about twenty seconds into the song is reminiscent of the old west and Neil Young. From the first word sung, it is hushed almost like you’re hearing a story that you weren’t allowed to hear. Dylan’s voice is sharp and course. People don’t live or die people just float, and she went with the man in the long black coat. The ‘she’ in this song is mysterious, and unattainable. The song has a tragic feel.
Most of the Time: This song hit me the hardest on the album. I can compare it to being punched in the stomach the first time you hear it. One would be able to tell if someone’s heart had ever been broken based on their reaction to this song. The way he sings the words and how simply they go together, but somehow create this gut-wrenching emotion of loss and the past is what I really liked about this song. The repetition of the line most of the time and the progression of how his longing grows worse over the song makes the listener grimace for his pain, especially if they’ve been there too. The way he sings of how different they are now, unrecognizable also left an impact on me. From start to finish, it’s one of the best breakup songs I’ve heard, and even if you hear it 5 years after, it’s still going to bring up feelings you had when you were in the place he was in.
What Good Am I: Coming to terms with the hurt you’ve inflicted upon someone else, especially someone that you loved is terrible, and that is what is happening in this song. The song is quiet, with minimal instruments and Dylan’s voice carries most of the impact. The lyrics are self loathing and unforgiving, he is wrestling with what his actions say about the person he has become. It seems he doesn’t want to be this way, but finds himself in this position none-the-less. I imagine anyone who has been through a divorce would be extremely impacted by this song because of the raw emotion it stirs up.
The Disease of Conceit: Like the precious song, it seems to be self-inflicted. The singer isn’t singing about someone else, but rather himself. A somber and crying guitar along with the piano pair up with Dylan’s voice to create the isolated and run down emotion of the song.
What was it you Wanted: A direct contrast to ‘Most of the Time’ the song is an unforgiving and vicious attack at the woman who broke the singer’s heart. The pain seems raw, and his voice is unwaveringly aggressive and lacking remorse. The guitar and harmonica in the background create a western, classic feel and the beat is almost pleasant despite being paired with the lyrics. What was it you wanted/ Tell me again I forgot. The relentlessness of the song fails to let up and only intensifies from start to finish. Despite being so different from ‘Most of the time” I found it just as easy to relate to. The true talent of Dylan is bringing out the emotion in you that is there, even if it is buried deep down. All it takes is a certain song to bring that specific emotion, it can go from love to hate with the change of a song, and just like that you remember what it felt like.
Shooting Star: Star crossed lovers, star crossed fate. The song reminded me of Shakespeare and his famous line about stars in Romeo and Juliet. The last song on the album is deeply nostalgic and is filled with the questions you don’t really want to ask yourself, the “what if” question. The shooting star in the song slips away, like the woman he is thinking of when he sees the star, and the “things you needed to hear me say”. I found the song very sentimental, and would like to think that most people when listening to it are filled with good memories of their past.