Are any of Bob Dylan's new songs worth very much when comparing them to his classical years?

Bob Dylan has said himself that he cant get anywhere  near the lyrics of songs such as 'Masters of war' and seems to recognize them almost as coming from another person.When I was 16 and heard his music for the first time I was hooked,what he does now seems to pale into insignifance.Shouldn't we remember his great years and forget this watered down version?He would never have made it on the stuff he has produced over the last 15/20 years.Bob Dylan's great songs had poetry,vision and often humour.I cant hear that now, in any sense,and prefer to imagine the new songs dont exist

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Can you go to the right discussuion.Thanks

Jesus man , LET IT GO !!


"It's not dark yet" and "Highlands" and "Ain't talking" for example easily compete if not surpass, any song from the 60th . It is just different not weaker or  lesser  from what many people loved in his early work.

Poetry is words without music, lyrics are words set to music.  This whole idea of songwriters being poets is one I don't buy into.  Dylan has always been a songwriter, primarily.  His lyrics, IMO, are to be appreciated along with the music, not disected out.  Some would argue that music and rhythm are more primal and expressive for humans than words are and thus can be extremely powerful and evocative.  So when you take the lyrics out of the context of the music, much of their power can be lost.  The lyrics of Its Not Dark Yet, to me, aren't nearly as powerful alone as they are when set to the swampy, late-night, dirge-y mood of the music.  Together, they are as brilliant to me as anything Dylan has ever done.  Here's a pretty good essay on the song:


Even when read without the music, its surprising that any Dylan fan would not be impressed by these words.  Just the first two lines set up an image in my mind as clear as a film scene and then the next two lines tell so much of a story in just a few words.  This is brilliant, brilliant stuff to my ears because its evocative of time, place and mood and its super honest and reveals a huge chunk of Dylan's psyche as the genius and important figure in 20th century American art that he is at this stage of his life.  It says boatloads about what its like to be a person who has stood for all that he has for so many years and to still be alive in this ethically and spiritually bankrupt mainstream America.

  As I said before you are welcome to your opinion, but I'm wondering why you seem to be working so hard to convince others and prove a point?  You can't prove an opinion and you don't need to.  Just because you don't hear the beauty in Dylan's later works doesn't mean it isn't there for many many fans.  I think you are working on a lost cause, dude.  Why not just listen to what you like and forego what you don't?

Shadows are fallin' and I've been here all day
It's too hot to sleep and time is runnin' away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I've still got the scars that the sun didn't heal
There's not even room enough to be anywhere
It's not dark yet but it's gettin' there.

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writin' what was in her mind
I just don't see why I should even care
It's not dark yet but it's gettin' there.

Well, I've been to London and I been to gay Paris
I've followed the river and I got to the sea
I've been down on the bottom of the world full of lies
I ain't lookin' for nothin' in anyone's eyes
Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear
It's not dark yet but it's gettin' there.

I was born here and I'll die here against my will
I know it looks like I'm movin' but I'm standin' still
Every nerve in my body is so naked and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don't even hear the murmur of a prayer
It's not dark yet but it's gettin' there.


'Don't even hear the murmur of a prayer'....these lyrics would put a new songwriter in the fast lane of critical acclaim IMO...and yet we are discussing if any of Bob's newer songs are worth much...a headscratcher to me...

Specific lyric:

I'll eat when I'm hungry, drink when I'm dry

And live my life on the square

And even if the flesh falls off of my face

I know someone will be there to care

It always means so much

Even the softest touch

 I see nothing to be gained by any explanation

 There are no words that need to be said  - Lovesick



I think these lyrics say it all-no imagery like his old stuff-point proved from my viewpoint.

If you think lyrics like 'I'll eat when I'm hungry,drink when I'm dry' are special then we have different criteria.

Hi rob

You know who said and where :

Don't criticize
What you can't understand

For the times they are a-changin'.


Pretty much applicable to you.


There's not a lot to understand in the new works-I understand it-too clearly.He's not changing with the times,just going back to his roots which is fair enough but he's not saying much about what is going on today

Hi Rob


I will give it another try.


You are basically comparing  Dylan poetry of the 69th and 70th , to the late one of the 90th and 2000th .

I agree with you that Dylan early work is groundbreaking, genius, full with imagery humor and can be given every superlative you choose.

But if you don't get the genius of his later work you really "don't get Dylan ".

His later work is characterized by pilling  great lines on top of one another without forming any linear direction when they’re taken together. Those songs somehow feel like life, opinions changing from day to day, emotions burbling to the surface for a moment before being replaced by others in a heartbeat.
And on top of it many of his later songs contain great humor as well.

This kind of writing did not exist in Dylan early work.

 Try listening again  to " Not dark yet" or Mississippi, or "Love sick " or "Huck's tune" or 'tell ol' Bill" or "Can't wait" or "Ain't Talkin'" , or "Things have changed" or " Trying to get to heaven", or "Highlands" , and maybe you will get  a new great experience.  

Beginning in 1993 with "World Gone Wrong" Dylan explicitly went back to his own roots, the blues and Applalachian trad music that inspired him in the first place. Since 1997 he has made a string of blues albums of striking quality. I actually started to look forward to hearing the next Dylan album for the first time in my adult life (I was too young for his first long wave of genius). These albums are as interesting as those of the '60s and early '70s because they have a narrower focus and he is doing something better than most people can instead of doing something that pretty much no one else had.

"I've still got scars the sun didn't heal," is  a pretty damn good line for anyone. Rob, you seem to wish that Dylan still wrote songs like he wrote in his 20's and early 30's and that's impossible. He's a man in his 70's now.

And words are only part of the equation with any song. Otherwise we would not think "Awopbopaloobopalopbamboom" was a great rock and roll lyric. On paper it's nonsense, but when Little Richard sings it, well, it's something else again.



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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.