Regardless of whether or not the release of “Murder Most Foul” and “I Contain Multitudes” means that Dylan has a new album on the horizon, I’m ecstatic at the fact that we’re getting new works in the first place.
Yet, I can’t help but notice the aesthetic similarities both in lyrics and music that exists between the two last singles. For one thing, the font used in both covers is the same, same colors and everything. That may simply be an aesthetic coincidence as the font is also very similar to the one used in the Triplicate cover. However, I can’t get over the fact that both songs sport a literary reference in the title. “Murder Most Foul” is a sentence directly taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and “I Contained Multitudes” comes from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself. I believe this is not a coincidence. Look at the lyrical content in both songs, they are heavily reliant on name-dropping and pop-culture references. To me, these two songs carry a strong theme of Dylan looking back on the influences that made him and the events that shaped him as a performer. If there is a new Bob Dylan coming, I’m sure that that will be the focus, the man himself reflecting on his past.
This philosophy is very strong in Murder Most Foul, in which he recounts the decades of the 1960s and the 1970s, yet I think it is especially evident in the recent I contain Multitudes. I see this last single as Dylan openly talking about himself like never before. “I’m a man of contradictions, I’m a man of many moods”. That couldn’t be more true. In Whitman’s original poem, the phrase represents the virtue of contradictions. How contradicting oneself is an act of growing and evolving as a person and not a negative thing, as it is often seen. If there’s anyone who has contradicted himself in music history, it’s Bob Dylan. From folk-singer to alternative electric to country voice to lyric-centric love songs to religious musician to synth pop artist and further, Dylan has had a career that is characterized by constant change. “I have no apologies to make” he sings recently. This last song to me reads like Dylan looking back on his career and taking his time to reflect upon it whilst giving credit to the artists that shaped him along the way.
That is why my hunch tells me there’s a new album on the way. The thematic similarities between these two singles are just too strong. And in that case, I also think with bitter sweetness that it may be his last. One final look back at his career, his influences and the events that marked him. But who knows, maybe he’ll surprise us with another comeback and loads of new material like he’s done before with Time out of Mind.
What do you think? Are we getting a new album? Is Dylan simply recording singles and releasing them one by one? What’s going on?
Written by JP Pereze
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