Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bob Dylan - Oh Mercy

Bob Dylan – Oh Mercy
Columbia, 1989
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2012           
Price: $2.50

 This is a great late Dylan record, somewhere after all the Jesus stuff and those two really shitty albums he made and before he started making all of those blues records or whatever those albums from the 90s were. I bought this record because it has “Most of the Time” on it, which was featured in the movie High Fidelity and featured on the soundtrack and a staple for one of the pretty rocky breakup years back. I’ve never listened to the religious albums or the shitty ones that came after, but this does sound like a return to form record. It’s solid. Sounds like Bob Dylan run through the ringer. Most of the songs suffer from that electronic 80s production, but it’s not nearly as obtrusive as it is on, say, Leonard Cohen’s 80s albums. “Ring Them Bells” is a beautiful, somber tune buried in the tracklist. It totally caught me off guard, and kind of led to this idea that “Oh, this is Bob Dylan now.” He’s moving forward, aging gracefully. His voice hasn’t aged as well as you might have thought it would, but that’s kind of the beauty of it. It just gets more weathered and will keep wearing down until he’s in the ground. I remember Sufjan Stevens covered that song on the I’m Not There soundtrack and I thought it was overlong and weird and then I thought it was kind of awesome when I heard the original. When the tunes are spare and lovely, they succeed greatly. When they’re angsty and bitter like “Political World” and “Everything is Broken,” they get a little too dated. I’d definitely love to hear a version of this album stripped down to just Bobby D and a guitar because you know the songs would sound great (that’s just how the man rolls), and I know Daniel Lanois production and I’m just some upstart coming in being all “oh boo hoo the 80s” but that’s just how I call it. On an unrelated note, the teriffic “Shooting Star” sounds like the balladesque songs Craig Finn has been writing lately. 

Since it's like impossible to find an original Bob Dylan tune on YouTube, here's that Sufjan Stevens version of "Ring Them Bells"

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