Monday, April 26, 2010

ALBUM REVIEW: Modern Times by Bob Dylan

By Michael J. Casey

I would like to give a very detailed review on one of my recent favorite Dylan Albums and also one of his most recent. Modern Times is an awesome album, released in 2005 in won Dylan two Grammys. This album is just one of his recent albums that seem to have given him new life in his career. What I am going to do for you is go song by song and give a detailed description of each song. I'm going to focus on the lyrics because that is what brought me to listen to Dylan in the first place, and I'll mention the actual music when I think it is necessary.

1. Thunder on The Mountain

This songs starts with some subtle drums and a guitar riff and then Dylan's voice seems to shine. The song even includes a very strange shout out to Alicia Keys. This is just one of many from this album that takes from other older songs, and adapted them a bit. He takes that verse that includes Alicia Keys from an old blues tune by Memphis Minnie. This is one of my favorite songs of the albums that seem to be a little bit all over the place, but it has a great beat and I enjoy the blues feel of the song.

2. Spirit on the Water

A very mellow song that is also pretty long at 7:42. The songs is one that makes you just sway back and forth with its gentle music. The songs seem to talk about an older man who is in love with a younger lover who may not be as faithful to the old man as she should. There is a hint of prostitution which Dylan talks about how he doesn't care if he has t o pay a price, and that others seem to brag about her "sugar" but, I'm not sure if that is certain. The song is defiantly one of my favorite songs and includes my favorite line, "You think I'm over the hill/ you think I'm past my prime /Let me see what you got/ we can have a whoppin' good time". Whether or not the woman is a prostitute that he is sinning about it is a great song none the less.

3. Rollin' and Tumblin'

Another song about being mistreated by a woman, makes you wonder who seems to be doing Dylan wrong. One of my friends think it is the continuation of the story line before and the old man has realized, based on the line "Some young lazy slut has charmed away my brains" and the next verse "Well, I did all I know just to keep you off my mind / Well, I did all I know just to keep you off my mind/ Well, I paid and I paid and my sufferin' heart is always on the line. There are other lines to make one to think that. This song is much more beat to it than "Spirit on the Water" with nice rifts between verses.

4. "When the Deal Goes Down"

Like a great album it goes from quick music to slow paced and this is no exception with this song slowing it back down a bit, a great song of loyalty. The song basically states that no matter what we seem to go through these days and all of the changes that the world is throwing at us we are reminded that "I'll be with you when the deal goes down" something that you would want to hear from anyone of your loved ones. The music never seems to get to loud and just flows you through the song very nicely and sends certain calm over you when you hear the song.

5. "Someday Baby"

Back in fashion this song picks up rhythm. Like the majority of the songs on this album it seems to be talking to women, and like "Rollin' and Tumblin' it is a negative situation. A man who seems to be so hooked about on a woman he would stop at nothing to get rid of her even, the line "Well, I don't want to brag, but I'm gonna ring your neck" seems to be evidence enough, as well as the repeated line "Someday baby you ain't gonna worry po' me any more" in which it seems the man just needs to get away from his women at any cost.

6. "Workingman's Blues"

The first song to have nothing to do with a woman. Instead it details the unfortunate state of the working man in America. A great topical song, something that Dylan does best, the makes you realize that this economy that were isn't what it needs to be. Makes you wonder if Dylan knew something that we didn't seeing this song was written three years before the horrible market collapse and the insuring recession. The song details how the working man doesn't have much to do but just continue to work his hardest and the fight hungry and turning to crime. This is a song that I think more people should listen to so they can see what people have to fight for. This song following in tradition tends to slow down a bit with some great piano play in it.

7. "Beyond The Horizon"

Another love song about a man who seems will stop at nothing to get beyond the horizon to get to the one he loves. Whether it is through treacherous sea or blowing winds he will follow his love and do his best to get to her and love her.

8. "Nettie Moore"

Yet another song about a man and his lover. This one is about a man who hasn't seen his woman in a while and how he longs to see her again. Nothing is going to be able to keep them apart. The song has a theme very similar to "Beyond the Horizon" Again this is another very slow paced that is great to just listen to and relax. This song has my favorite line it, "They say whiskey will kill ya, but I don't think it will", I am not sure why but that line always seems to but a smile on my face.

9. "The Levee's Gonna Break"

This song takes the line from another old Memphis Minnie song that was also used in a Led Zeppelin song. Some say that it has something to do with Katrina seeing the song was released less than a year after the Hurricane, but I'm not sure although one line is defiantly a great supporting fact, Some people on the road carrying everything that they own/Some people on the road carrying everything that they own/ Some people got barely enough skin to cover their bones"

10. "Ain't Talkin'"

This song gives me a spooky chill for some reason and I'm not sure why. Maybe it is the use of birds chirping in the background and the pictures that are painted throughout the song brings a certain eerie feeling to the song. The song in my opinion is about revenge. A man who was beat is gunning for his enemy. The whole song seems to back up that fact especially," If I catch my opponents ever sleepin'/I'll just slaughter them where they lie" At 8:48 it is the longest song, but you don't even realize when you are listing to, the song just kind of happens.

This album is one of my favorite of Dylan's. The only complaint I have is that seeing this live the music has a little more to it, but then again most of the lyrics call for a subtle tone. This is a fantastic album that tells some great stories. Some may even be connected. If you haven't purchased this album I highly recommend that you do, it is worth the ten bucks.

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  1. I don't think he's saying she's a prostitute. I take it as an emotional price he must pay to be with someone whom he loves but is constantly letting him down. They brag about your sugar, brag about it all over town. I take it as he hates the idea of her being with anybody else. Maybe she won't give him a chance.

  2. bob dylan rocks but why did joni mitchell say he's a theif - did he steal her computer? she has no computer ..did he steal her cell phone? She has no cell phone? Perhaps she feels neglated Mr. Jones of the internet- don't steal this blog