on 20 January 2003
The tracks on this album were meant to have been recorded during a snowstorm in Minnesota (according to Jim Dickinson who plays keyboards on many of them.) I like that story as 'Time Out Of Mind' has the feeling of being a few grim steps removed from the world.
This is a beautiful, soul weary record. Anger and acceptance, a distance from the stupidity of people, a feeling of time running out. A disconnectedness. And yet it is one of the most heartfelt evocations of (unrequited) love and longing I have ever listened to.
'Not Dark Yet' is the album's emotional core. There is a sense of resignation to suffering and pain, and you know that the person who wrote these songs is for real, they are about to face something which will truly bring them to the end of their rope. The unhealed scars, the loss of faith in humanity, the search for 'heaven's door'.
I don't believe that Daniel Lanois's production at all denigrates the piece. On the blues numbers particularly there is genius going on in the mix. It's not raw and primitive but is alive and breathing and darkly muttering to itslef.
The closer 'Highlands' is hypnotic in its intensity, where every word is given extra meaning by the tone and nuance of Dylan's voice. (Something which is unique to him.) It's uplifting in its isolation and sense the self going it alone.
It does not surprise me that Dylan had a near encounter with death four months after. There is a palpable sense of mortality here.
This is an album of heartbreak and pain, where the hurt and the loss become something between numbness and a state of grace.There are very few songwriters who can bring that feeling across but Dylan can. It's music of the darkened road, the thin, thin line. This is a masterpiece.
This raw slice of blues and rock n' roll simply has to best the best thing that Bob Dylan has come up with since "Blood On The Tracks".
The lyrics are dark and haunted, at times even bitter and resigned. But, in case you doubted it, "Time Out Of Mind" proves that Bob Dylan can actually sing. His phrasing is perfect, and his vocals more powerful than you can imagine if you've only ever heard him do "Blowin' In The Wind" in 1963.
Highlights include "Love Sick" ("I'm sick of love", Dylan sings), "Tryin' To Get To Heaven", "Not Dark Yet" and "Dirt Road Blues" - which actually is a genuine blues, unlike about a thousand other songs with the word "blues" in the title.
But my absolute favorite song off this album is "Make You Feel My Love", easily one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.
These songs have it all, both melody and powerful, intelligent lyrics, and Dylan's dark, raspy vocals suit them perfectly.
Bob Dylan has certainly made more influential albums than this one (no one can be expected to revolutionize popular music more than once, after all), but he never made a better one.
on 22 April 2014
This album is awesomely good. The best Dylan album since Blood on the Tracks.
BUT, this latest (overdue, when you consider how much the original pressing has been going of on a certain auction site) pressing isn't perfect. Firstly, the sound is excellent, but my copy has a couple of manufacturing faults - small scratch on Cold Irons Bound and a missing label. Both are relatively minor, but are irritating examples of poor quality control. I will live with the copy I have, but others should be mindful that 'Music on Vinyl' is no 'Mobile Fidelity'.
Bob Dylan is known to admire the work of Herman Melville. `Time out of Mind' is a quotation from `Moby Dick' meaning `from time immemorial' or `as long as anyone can remember.' This 1997 Grammy-winner marks something of a landmark for Dylan in its recognition of the approach of old age. Full of poignant and intelligent song-writing, it marks the initiation of a mature creative period which found further expression in `Love and Theft' and `Modern Times'. Many people proclaim this as Dylan's best-ever album, and from the perspective that it gets deeper into your soul with each repeated listening, they might be right.
Deeply personal and serious in tone, the album at the same time sidesteps the label of `introspection', nor is it `downbeat' or bleak. Dylan has the rare ability to stand apart from himself, to see his experiences from outside and deliver poignant, fly-on-the-wall observations which can cut the listener to the soul. As he's matured as an artist, this characteristic has matured with him to the point where he is the undisputed master of the craft.
The musical style is classic Zimmerman, mostly rock-and-roll bluesy with an upbeat jauntiness in no way out of place with the subject matter. Dylan's voice ain't what it used to be in terms of vocal power, but makes up in gravitas and confidence what it now lacks in youthful range. Phrasing and delivery are textbook examples of relaxed and laconic excellence; he's at home in his chosen idiom as is a fish in water.
Dylan's poetic song lyrics over his 50-year career are some of the best ever written. TooM is the real deal, the real Bob Dylan - perhaps for the first time since `Blood on the Tracks' the songs have an uncompromising personal honesty. Here's a telling verse from the closer, `Highlands':
"The sun is beginning to shine on me
But it's not like the sun that used to be
The party's over and there's less and less to say
I got new eyes
Everything looks far away..."
`Time out of Mind' is an album which could not have been made by a young man, and not by any product of the 21st century's sales-and-image driven global music business. Only a master of his craft, confronting mortality and looking back on a lifetime tinged with regret, could produce a masterpiece like this.
on 12 April 2002
The depth and class of the album is first masked by it's subtlety and understatement, but this grows to be it's great strength, for those prepared to listen. The new Love and Theft is a good upbeat album, with Bob sounding like he's enjoying himself. Time Out Of Mind is borne of something darker and more brooding. Songs like Trying to Get to Heaven and the haunting Lovesick are more than worthy of mention but the bass and funk of Cold Irons Bound are a revelation. Sit down by yourself with your favourite tipple and listen to Not Dark Yet. Tingling and beautiful, subtle and engrossing. It creates an atmosphere in an empty room, the music is almost tangible.
You could say this is one of his best albums, but I don't like to compare. How can you compare albums thirty five years apart. I have heard a lot of Dylan. I am only in my twenties and so have not followed the story from the start. I am no aged Dylanite who believes he has monopoly of opinion on all things Dylan. This is a very good album.
on 12 January 2013
I admit it I'm a huge Dylan fan ..., I've just about bought every album he's released as it has been released since 1981...., I also have all the official releases before this date and a ridiculous number of bootlegs.
Well so much rubbish has been written about just how good recent Dylan albums have been ..., well believe me when I say as of Jan 2013 this is chronologically the last of the truly great Dylan albums.
There have been some half decent albums since of course, but this one is truly great.
When I bought it (on the day of release) I was so pleased as Dylan had been coasting for quite a number of years (since Oh Mercy!)
At the time I thought it was good, but as the years have passed it just keeps growing on me ..., I now consider it as one of Bob's best; its definitely one of a handful of most played albums.
Worth buying just for 'Cold Irons Bound' but over time it will become a much reached for CD I'm pretty sure.
on 26 April 2014
Amongst Bob Dylan's legion of admirers it is generally considered that the 1980s was a fallow period, although 1989's "Oh Mercy" did much to allay the fears that Dylan's creative muse was on the wane. The follow up album, "Under the Red Sky" was greatly under appreciated. Then came the longest period of silence from BD; apart from two albums of blues and folk standards no album of Dylan-penned songs appeared until 1997.
"Time out of Mind" was eminently worth waiting for. The writing was generally strong and Daniel Lanois' production was spot on. As usual Dylan's album was paradoxical: in the main the songs expressed the sentiments of a man in an extreme state of lovelorn angst and yet the mood created is somehow anything but bleak. Listen to "Not Dark Yet" and you will be moved by the lovely arrangement and yet the protagonist is saying such heartrending things as "Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear/ It's not dark yet, but it's getting there". Many of the songs are in this vein, yet they do not sound self pitying, just a man in despair. bearing his soul.
As ever there is wit aplenty, especially evident in the marathon song that closes the album, "Highlands", a tribute to the Scottish Highlands with an amazing detour, in the protagonist's memory, to a restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts!
This is the album that, for me, returns Dylan to his most impressive song writing abilities; to get there he had to confront some awful inner demons, and from that he created another masterpiece.
on 30 August 2006
Lets deal with the term masterpeice. It's over-used but lets get a working definition. Lets define it as an example of a craftsman working at the peak of their powers.
Dylan has amazed and frustrated during his career. Low points have not been in short-supply and a stream of 1980s albums until 1989's "Oh Mercy" were bewildering and disappointing.
1997 saw the release of this stone-cold classic produced by the excellent Daniel Lanois who makes it sound like it was recorded next to a swamp.
"Love Sick" is the grumpy storming opener which sets the tone of a man aghast at the futility of that around him and feels somehow left behind but not wanting to move on.
There is beauty to be found here. "Standing In The Doorway", clocking in at around 7 minutes - is a stunner and alongside "Not Dark Yet" and "Trying To Get To Heaven", provides a contrast to the 12 bar workouts.
"Cold Irons Bound" is devestating and "Highlands" is a 16 minute lazy stroll that you would only tolerate from Mr Dylan but even he might be pushing it a little. But forgive him this time. Here he delivers his best record in years.
on 22 January 2006
I've listened to this recording literally hundreds of times and never tire of it. In my opinion, it captures Dylan at his lyrical and musical best. As a writer of ballads, he is surely unsurpassed. And this album demonstrates that: "You took the silver, you took the gold/ You left me standin' out in the cold... I'm tryin' to get closer/ But I'm still a million miles from you". A devotion to the blues (those old Document label recordings) - both musically and lyrically - is in evidence (esp. Dirt Road Blues), and mercifully, the maestro's croaky (but equally evocative) vocals are rendered nicely by Daniel Lanois' unique approach to the stereo mix. And every song is different. If there is one quibble - and it is only a very minor one - it is with the last number, Highlands, which can seem a trifle over-long. Otherwise, I urge you to hear this record. It's his masterpiece.
on 31 August 2006
Dylan has spent his entire career hiding. Clever lyrical wordplay and cryptic press conference answers have served as a tool to avoid sharing himself with the world, a barrier between his private self and his millions of fans hungry for even the tiniest of Dylanesque insights.
Time Out of Mind is an album written by a sick man who is tired of running; old and weary, he has finally decided that it's time for his fans to have those insights they've been desperate for for the the best part of 30-40 years. He is explaining how he feels inside in plain English, and it is on his own terms.
This album is nothing more than a man baring his soul for anyone who cares to listen. It's the fact that, after years of people scrutinising his lyrics for translation, he has written songs whose intentions no one can mistake, and that is what makes this album so beautiful. I have never heard an album so emotional and it is a desperate, gutwrenching, raw emotion; two outstretched hands looking for a passer-by to care.
The album starts off so deliciously bleak; Lovesick struts so broadly and his vocals fit the music perfectly, emphasised with a hint of digital effect. Dirt Road Blues is a footstomping and totally enjoyable rocker, whereas Standing in the Doorway is nothing more than a cry for help. Not Dark Yet could possibly be the most beautiful and sad song ive ever heard, as it rolls sluggishly like a funeral march; it sounds as if it was written by a man expecting to die soon, and too soon. A contender for, not only the best song on the album, but also the best song ever.
Cold Irons Bound is another landmark track, whose thumping arrangement stands so starkly against the two other tracks either side of it. Can't Wait is a brilliant song, not only for its catchy simplicity, and it is as frank and self-explanatory as any of the other tracks. Highlands is long, but wonderful in its laziness and whimsy; I cant help but grin when listening to this song, especially for the mini restaurant soap opera halfway through.
Dylan's aging and strained voice is perfect for the emotions and themes of this album. It is an old man's album, and he has an old man's voice. He talks candidly about his emotions, as if the illness he fell into before this album had made him realise that this may be his last chance to say how he feels, to set the record straight. Lanois' production is nothing special, the mix and indeed the sound of the instruments remains pretty much constant throughout and it is more a comment on Dylan's songwriting, as opposed to Lanois' producing skills, that every song has been made to sound so different to the next (and it really is a sign of genius).
Music is emotion, and I would recommend this album to anyone who is interested in hearing one of the greatest albums of all time.