Sunday, October 19, 2008

Album of the Day #89: THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' - Bob Dylan

Title: The Times They Are A-Changin'

Artist: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia
Released: 1964
Songs: The Times They Are A-Changin’/Ballad Of Hollis Brown/With God On Their Side/One Too Many Mornings/North Country Blues/Only A Pawn In Their Game/Boots Of Spanish Leather/When The Sip Comes In/The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll/Restless Farewell
Written by: Bob Dylan
Produced by: Tom Wilson
Thoughts: I have read so many things about this album. Most people say that it could be the worst of the four acoustic albums and usually, if they disagree with that statement, they believe Another Side Of Bob Dylan is the worst.
The thing that annoys me about The Times They Are A-Changin is that at no point does Dylan lighten up. He sort of does it with “When The Ship Comes In”, but even that has a topic that weighs heavily on the listener. My favorite tracks are “One Too Many Mornings” and “Boots Of Spanish Leather”, again, two love songs that hide behind their metaphors and use of the English language. Still, even these two songs do not stop the tide of the single, depressing tempo that runs through all ten of these gigantic songs. “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”, a song that Dylan brought to life during his “Rolling Thunder Revue” tours of 1975-1976, is probably the only other song that is a favorite of mine. I love the couplet that ends each verse. “Take the rag away from your face/Now ain't the time for your tears.” Then, there is the way he twists the couplet for the last time he sings it: “Bury the rag deep in your face/For now's the time for your tears.”
“Restless Farewell” ends the album on such a dreary note. He ends the album with such an odd verse.

Oh a false clock tries to tick out my time
To disgrace, distract, and bother me.
And the dirt of gossip blows into my face,
And the dust of rumors covers me.
But if the arrow is straight
And the point is slick,
It can pierce through dust no matter how thick.
So I'll make my stand
And remain as I am
And bid farewell and not give a damn.

I always wondered why a person would take a stand, but not give a damn. Maybe I am completely misunderstanding the verse, but it is such an odd closing.
Maybe another problem with the album is that Dylan only observes and never really provides solutions. He tells us of the plight of a farmer; that people do things ‘with god on their side’; that we are ‘only a pawn in their game’; and, most importantly, that ‘the times they are a-changin’’. In fact, is Dylan really protesting? Is shining a light on events protesting? Or is it just reporting? Then again, that is the problem with protesters: they tell us what is wrong and what is happening, but they provide no solutions.

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