The undulations of human existence. The crest and the troth. A lifetime of waves, sufferings and joys. A planet of these waves; ‘Planet Waves’. A 1973 Dylan release which speaks of celebration, love, lament, self-destruction and parental care. A pendulum swing of experiences in an album backed by The Band.
Let’s touch on the marrow of the album and the sign posts of the before mentioned experience. ‘On a Night Like This’, a rowdy opener which speaks of the joys of two folks reuniting; a celebration. ‘Going, Going, Gone’, a slow song of suffering. The speaker here needs to leave, either life or their town, not caring, “what happens next”; self-destruction.
Love; is woven throughout this album and can be found addressed in five of eleven tracks, (if you can’t relate to adoring someone, maybe ‘Time Out of Mind’ would be a better album to spin). In ‘Forever Young’, Dylan sings of the best he wants for his son. A song which he claims was in his head for years, there are two takes on the album. He couldn’t decide how to record it. The first track was recorded on the first take and beloved by The Band; not Dylan who had to be convinced to put it on the album. The second take, which Lost John, a local dylanologist finds unlistenable, is an uptempo interpretation on the same song, lively at that.
To button up the waves, ‘Dirge’, a brooding lament is much like the anchor Dylan portrays visually on the front of the album; it weighs the latter half of the album down. Nearly sinks it. This track I find unlistenable and always skip. Never had a reason to listen but my first run through the album.
In a little red coupe, coming from ‘Jack’s Rhythm’s’ in New Paltz, (the local music store owned by the local music guru), I drove up into the Shawungunk Mountains. Took the dirt roads and put this recording in. It was summertime and I remember the lush growth, mountain laurel and how the album just didn’t strike me in the bones. Like ‘John Wesley Harding’ it took me years to put it in an irregular appearance on my Dylan rotation.
What happens over time to come around to a Dylan album? Waves. All the above mentioned experiences including a going, going, gone moment which sent me off to the deserts in Utah, (yes I did meet a girl from Brighton and yes she was like the moo). After garnishing the sediment life layers on us, this album became more relevant and relatable. Spin it. See if your life’s D.N.A. matches.
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