Gonna have to Serve Somebody: The feel and sound of the record is instantly different than the other Dylan albums. The lyrics are highly metaphorical and the bluesy feel is appealing. The second chorus is the first time the woman singing background vocals are heard, providing a sharp contrast to Dylan’s voice. His voice sounds great, but what he is singing about is troubling. The lyrics are undoubtedly religiously fueled and I found myself wishing I was listening to the same song that told a different story.
Precious Angel: The intro to this reminded me of “If Not for You” with the twang of a guitar in the background. “Shine your light/shine your light on me” is the chorus and I couldn’t help but feel like I was in church. The music sounds borderline cheesy when paired with some of the lyrics and the constant upbeat tempo becomes irritating. Overall it was un-relatable not because of the lyrics, but because I really didn’t like the background music. The background ladies are there again as well, making me think they’re going to be on the entire album.
I Believe in You: A somber and slow moving song, the lyrics are no doubt about the singers relationship with their lord. Don’t let me drift too far/ Keep me where you are. The song proclaims and endless devotion and unwavering belief in their lord. Don’t let me change my heart/ Keep me far apart/ From all the plans they do pursue the underline paranoia of falling off the wagon, or being diverted on his quest to be faithful echoes in the lyrics of the song. The song isn’t confident, rather worried.
Slow Train: I really enjoyed the intro to this song and found it very insightful. When he begins with wondering about the fate of those close to him it shows just how deep his religious views were affecting him. Are they lost or are the found/ Have they counted the cost it will take to bring them down/All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon. Lyrically, this song was the most reminiscent so far as far as being “Dylanesque”. The strong emotional connection felt for some of the lyrics that were more than just strict biblical references were refreshing. They talk about a life of brotherly love/ Show me someone who knows how to live it. The song also contains some political references, All that foreign oil controlling American soil/Look around you it’s just bound to make you embarrassed.
Gonna Change my Way of Thinking: So much depression/I just can’t keep track of it no more. A heavily biblically influenced song, the last two stanzas are about Jesus’ second coming and heaven. The heavy guitar rift tries to give the song an edge, but the song never quite takes off. He said who is not for me is against me/Just so you know where I’m ‘comin from. The lyrics are black and white, you’re either bound for heaven or bound for hell. Being someone with ties to no particular faith, the song is preachy and one I wouldn’t often listen to.
Do Right to me Baby: The heavy repetition in the song, Don’t wanna creates a simple, whimsical song that loosely follows the golden rule. The tasks Dylan sings about seem easy enough, but they are also things that used to make up 80% of Dylan’s songs. The song once again never really takes off and falls flat. It is merely background music because it sounds dull, and unimaginative. Once again I am wishing I could listen to another album.
When you gonna wake up: A heavily political song, the questions posed in the songs are solid and thought provoking. The instrumentals sound jazz influenced and there are even horns in the chorus. The chorus, When ya gonna wake up is repeated heavily to ensure that the point gets across, so far no one has woken up.
Man Gave Names to All the Animals: The female background singers are present from the very first word. The song is most likely influenced by the tale of creation, and the bibles focus on the animals. The song was definitely hard for me to relate to and was another one I could picture singing in church. The juvenile feel of the music paired with the heavily biblically lyrics turn me off to the song.
When he Returns: The last song on the album, a love song to God, is deeply personal and almost bizarre. It serves as a final lament to his newly found faith, and as reassurance, maybe to himself, that he is going to remain a man of God. He sings of God’s healing power and how it is only him who can reduce him to tears. The devotion runs deep, and as Dylan fan I would have been terribly anxious to see if the next album was Jesus rock number two.