Sunday, December 30, 2012

Songs of the Year - "Narrow Way" and "Tempest," Bob Dylan

It would appear that there isn't a single decent video for either one of these songs, so I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.  Dylan's "Tempest" was one of the most talked-about and written-about albums of the year, and after living with it for a few months, I'm confident in saying that it was also one of the best albums of the year.

Together, these two songs clock in at almost 22 minutes (7:28 for "Narrow Way," and almost 15 for "Tempest"), but they're such strong songs that even with those lengths, when they end you're left wanting more.  The former song is a fast one, and the band locks into a groove at the beginning and then pushes it as far as they can, never coming up for breath until the end.  Dylan's voice is coarse and raspy - he sounds almost like Howlin' Wolf on much of the record - and he delivers lines like these:

Ever since the British burned the White House down
There's a bleeding wound in the heart of town
I saw you drinking from an empty cup
I saw you buried and I saw you dug up
It's a long road, it's a long and narrow way
If I can't work up to you, you'll surely have to work down to me someday

The latter song tells the story of the Titanic, and it never flags once - on each listen, you find yourself listening for, and finding, more and new details.  The music is beautiful, and Dylan's voice comes as close to "pretty" (which admittedly isn't very close) as it can these days.

Great songs, both.

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