Dylan’s songs however, are considerably darker than that of his Alabama counterparts. He says “I wasn’t conscious of a theme before I made it – I didn’t mean to, but I just happen to base a lot of my work on emotions – and at the time, they just happened to be negative ones.”
The songs on the new album are fraught with recollections of love, loss and regret. He was admittedly an emotional wreck when he wrote them, but emotions of that sort often lead to the most heartfelt music around. Since his debut album Paupers Field, Dylan has grown as a singer and a songwriter and a guitar player. He’s experienced a lot of life already, and while he’s still trying to figure it all out, he’s ready to share the melancholy emotions he loves so much.
Dylan states “I love it when music puts me a melancholy mood. Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and especially the song “Forever” by Pete Drake – those ones put me there and I want to give people that feeling too. I want people to feel something when they hear my music. A good hurt.”
But Dylan wants to make it clear that he also had a good time while he was making the record. He had fun working with Trina Shoemaker, who-co-produced the album with him, and for the first time he had someone next to him telling him if something was a good take or a bad take, which was a big help. She’d mixed Dylan’s previous album.
Late nights, he would listen to a lot of Ray Charles, Beach House, Kitty Wells and Wilco and contemplate the day. Dylan cites George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass as being a major influence on this record, and you may also hear echoes of Ennio Morricone, Radiohead and Gene Clark as well.
It was when the record was nearing completion that Dylan’s anxiety and stress got the best of him.
To silence his fears, he tried to self-medicate, and in doing so, he chose to be a recluse until he got his head together. It was a tough time that he ultimately got through by reminding himself why it was he started making music in the first place – because it is fun.
Dylan is now on a more positive spiritual journey and he is proud to sing these songs and he realizes that life doesn’t have to be so hard. He says “the songs are honest and they come from an honest place. I’ve been given the privilege to be able to write songs that come from the heart and for that I am grateful.”
When Dylan thinks about sharing these songs, he often thinks of the words of Jeff Tweedy on Wilco’s “What Light” when he sings the line “Just remember what was yours is everyone’s from now on”.
Putting his personal thoughts into the lyrics of a song has been cleansing for Dylan and now he’s ready to tackle the next step….and have some fun again.
TRACK BY TRACK:
Part One: The End: “I had a crazy dream and this was the theme music to it. In my dream I was walking through the forest, and there was a battle going on and everyone was shooting each other and then people were hanging out and smoking cigarettes with their rifles and I remember there was a beautiful woman in the dream with long black hair. She was like a painting, and every time she turned the corner, the rest of the world would also become a painting. Every time I wanted to go closer, she would round the next corner. I woke up and I said “I have to write that song”. I picked it out on my guitar and I started thinking
about innocence and what age is it that innocence stops and you start to become more aware of the world. When you become wise, things aren’t as fun and good as they used to be. It takes the magic out of it.”
Innocent Sinner: “I have no idea what that song is about. I wrote those lyrics on the spot. This awesome chord progression came first and I loved it and it reminded me of Ennio Morricone. I was thinking about what this girl said to me about how I space out a lot – “you’re never really here even when you’re here”.
Brother: “This song is about a friend of mine. He was going through a divorce and the song is about mine and his stories mixed together. We were both going through rough times in our lives with women and we were leaning on each other.”
Diamonds And Pearls: “My friend Mus Gillum wrote this song, and I thought it was beautiful. He’s one of my best friends and he let me record it.”
Where Are You Now: “I lost the girlfriend I really liked – I was being a bad person. She broke up with me just before I made this record and this song is about that.”
Chesapeake Lane: “This song is a story. It’s about an older man and he’s looking back on his life and he’s an alcoholic and remembering what life used to be life before he drank himself away.”
The Ties That Bind: “It’s hard to explain this one. It’s just about life.”
Comfort Me: “It’s about wanting to be better and wanting to be a better person and trying not to give up on yourself. We all live and die by the decisions we make. I wanna LIVE and not die by the decisions I make.”
Cast The Same Old Shadow: “I wrote that song in my house and everyone had just left including a girl I liked, and she didn’t feel the same way about me. I wrote this song since I was feeling sorry for myself. The name of the song lends itself to lots of different analogies, but in short – we are all similar yet different. It doesn’t matter where you are standing in the sunlight we all cast the same old shadow.”
Lonesome Waltz: “I wrote it for a friend of mine that was lonely and sad and I was trying to cheer her up. I think it worked.”