Time Out of Mind

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This article is about the Bob Dylan album. For other uses, see Time Out of Mind (disambiguation).
Time Out of Mind
A black-and-white photo of Dylan seated in a recording studio holding a guitar
Studio album by Bob Dylan
Released September 30, 1997 (1997-09-30)
Recorded 1996–1997 at Criteria Recording Studios, Miami, Florida
Genre Blues rock, folk rock, Americana
Length 72:50
Label Columbia
Producer Daniel Lanois (in association with Jack Frost productions)
Bob Dylan chronology
The Best of Bob Dylan
(1997)
Time Out of Mind
(1997)
The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert
(1998)
Singles from Time Out of Mind
  1. "Not Dark Yet"
    Released: August 25, 1997 (1997-08-25)
  2. "Love Sick"
    Released: November 18, 1997 (1997-11-18)

Time Out of Mind is the thirtieth studio album by the American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on September 30, 1997, by Columbia Records. It was his first double studio album (on vinyl) since Self Portrait in 1970. It was also released as a single CD.

For fans and critics, the album marked Dylan's artistic comeback after he struggled with his musical identity throughout the 1980s; he hadn't released any original material for seven years, since Under the Red Sky in 1990. Time Out of Mind is hailed as one of Dylan's best albums, and it went on to win three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year in 1998. Also, the album is ranked number 408 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003.[1]

The album features a particularly atmospheric sound, the work of producer (and past Dylan collaborator) Daniel Lanois, whose innovative work with carefully placed microphones and strategic mixing was detailed by Dylan in the first volume of his memoirs, Chronicles: Volume One. Although Dylan has spoken positively of Lanois' production style (especially for his 1989 album Oh Mercy), he expressed dissatisfaction with the sound of Time Out of Mind. Dylan has self-produced his subsequent albums.

Background and writing[edit]

In April 1991, Dylan told interviewer Paul Zollo that "there was a time when the songs would come three or four at the same time, but those days are long gone...Once in a while, the odd song will come to me like a bulldog at the garden gate and demand to be written. But most of them are rejected out of my mind right away. You get caught up in wondering if anyone really needs to hear it. Maybe a person gets to the point where they have written enough songs. Let someone else write them."[2]

Dylan's last album of original material had been 1990's Under the Red Sky, a critical and commercial disappointment. Since then, he had released two albums Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong of folk covers and MTV Unplugged, a live album of older compositions; there had been no signs of any fresh compositions until 1996.

Dylan began to write a fresh string of songs during the winter of 1996 at his farm in Minnesota, which would later make up Time Out of Mind.[3] Criteria Studio in Miami, Florida was booked for recording. In a televised interview with Charlie Rose, Lanois recalled Dylan talking about spending a lot of late nights working on this chapter of work. Once the words were completed, according to Lanois, Dylan considered the record to be finished saying, "you know whatever we decide to do with it, that's that." Lanois replied: "what's important is that it's written."[4]

Recording sessions[edit]

When Bob read me the lyrics of this record we were at a hotel room here in New York city. The words were hard, were deep, were desperate, were strong.... That's the record I wanted to make.

Daniel Lanois[5]

Dylan demoed some of the songs in the studio, something he rarely did.[3] Elements of Dylan's touring band were involved in these sessions. Dylan also used these loose, informal sessions to experiment with new ideas and arrangements. Dylan continued rewriting lyrics until January 1997, when the official album sessions began. It would mark the second collaboration between Dylan and Lanois, who had previously produced Dylan's 1989 release Oh Mercy and was known for his work with U2, Emmylou Harris, etc.

By now, new personnel hired for the album included slide guitarist Cindy Cashdollar and drummer Brian Blade, both hired by Lanois. Dylan brought in Jim Keltner, who was Dylan's tour drummer from 1979–1981. Dylan also hired Nashville guitarist Bob Britt, Duke Robillard, Tex-Mex organist Augie Meyers, and Memphis pianist Jim Dickinson to play at the sessions.

According to Lanois, Dylan likes old 1950s records since "they had a natural depth of field which was not the result of a mixing technique." He used a Sony C37A microphone, which was also used to record Dylan's album Oh Mercy. Various other devices were used to produce the album's distinctive sound. Lanois also devised a method to accommodate new or revised lyrics later in an original take, since this was often the case with Dylan.[6]

With two different sets of players competing in performance and two producers with conflicting views on how to approach each song, the sessions were far from disciplined. Years later, when asked about Time Out of Mind, Dickinson replied, "I haven't been able to tell what's actually happening. I know they were listening to playbacks, I don't know whether they were trying to mix it or not! Twelve musicians playing live—three sets of drums,... it was unbelievable—two pedal steels, I've never even heard two pedal steels played at the same time before! ... I don't know man, I thought that much was overdoing it, quite frankly. "[7]

Lanois admitted some difficulty in producing Dylan. "Well, you just never know what you're going to get. He's an eccentric man..."[4] In a later interview, Lanois said Dylan and he used to go the parking lot to discuss the recording in absence of the band. Lanois elaborated their discussion on the song "Standing In The Doorway". "I said 'listen, I love "Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands". Can we steal that feel for this song?' And he'd say 'you think that'd work?' Then we'd sit on the fender of a truck, in this parking lot in Miami, and I'd often think, if people see this they won't believe it!"[8] With Time Out of Mind, Lanois "produced perhaps the most artificial-sounding album in [Dylan]'s canon," says author Clinton Heylin, who described the album as sounding "like a Lanois CV."[9]

I just wanted to say, one time when I was about sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at the Duluth National Guard Armory...I was three feet away from him...and he looked at me. And I just have some sort of feeling that he was -I don't know how or why- but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way.

Bob Dylan[5]

Dylan talked about his difficulty at the recording sessions in an interview with Guitar World magazine. "I lose my inspiration in the studio real easy, and it's very difficult for me to think that I'm going to eclipse anything I've ever done before. I get bored easily, and my mission, which starts out wide, becomes very dim after a few failed takes and this and that." In the same interview Dylan cited Buddy Holly as an influence during the recording sessions.

In relation to past works like Highway 61 Revisited, Blood on the Tracks, and Infidels, Dylan said:

Songs[edit]

"Love Sick"
Main article: Love Sick

The first track on this album is "Love Sick", which was later also released as a single. Daniel Lanois later said about the recording process of this song, "We treated the voice almost like a harmonica when you over-drive it through a small guitar amplifier."[11]

"Dirt Road Blues"

"Dirt Road Blues" was improvised from a country-blues riff of indeterminate origin. Lanois recalls, "He made me pull out the original cassette, sample sixteen bars and we all played over that [for the released version],..."[8] Some critics criticized the performance for being 'mediocre' and for destroying the mood that was set up by the opening track. Michael Gray writes, "‘Dirt Road Blues’, which might under normal production circumstances be a heartening, even dexterous little rockabilly number, puts Dylan so far away and so tiny you just despair."[12]

"Love Sick" is the opening track of Time Out Of Mind

"Not Dark Yet", "the most celebrated song" on Time Out Of Mind

"Cold Irons Bound", the Grammy-winning song by Bob Dylan

"Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan

Problems playing these files? See media help.
"Tryin' to Get to Heaven"

One of the most praised songs of Time Out of Mind is "Tryin' to Get to Heaven", largely because of Dylan's strong and clear vocals.[citation needed] It is also Dylan's only harmonica performance on the entire album.

"'Til I Fell in Love with You"

This is a slow blues accompanied by syncopated electric piano, organ, and a "distant" echoing guitar.

"Not Dark Yet"
Main article: Not Dark Yet

"Not Dark Yet", the second of two singles from the album, was described by Time magazine as 'the moody album's centre' and was included in its Ten Best Bob Dylan Songs article of 2011.[13] "Not Dark Yet" was recorded at the early recording sessions and featured "a radically different feel", according to Lanois. "[The demo of 'Not Dark Yet'] was quicker and more stripped-down and [later during the formal studio sessions], he changed it into a civil war ballad."[8]

The song has been subject to a literary analysis by Professor Christopher Ricks which he claims demonstrates the clearest example of John Keats' influence on Dylan's writing. In his book Dylan's Visions of Sin, Ricks, a Boston University professor of humanities, draws parallels between "Not Dark Yet" and the Keats' poem Ode to a Nightingale. Broken down line for line, "similar turns of phrase, figures of speech, [and] felicities of rhyming" can be found throughout "Not Dark Yet" and the Ode. Ricks also argues that "there is a strong affinity with Keats in the way that in the song night colours, darkens, the whole atmosphere while never being spoken of," just as Keats used winter to color and darken the atmosphere in another poem he wrote, To Autumn. "Dylan's refrain or burden is 'It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.' He bears it and bares it beautifully, with exquisite precision of voice, dry humour, and resilience, all these in the cause of fortitude at life's going to be brought to an end by death."[14] A promotional video of this song was released. Since, original song was later attached to the footage there was no actual performance.[clarification needed]

"Cold Irons Bound"
Main article: Cold Irons Bound

The next song, "Cold Irons Bound", won the 1998 Grammy for best male rock vocal performance. Oliver Trager describes the track as "biting" with "ricocheting guitar licks, rockabilly drums, distorted organ, and [a] voice floating in a blimp of its own echo," in which "one can still hear, to paraphrase 'Visions of Johanna,' the ghost of electricity howling from the bones of Dylan's face..."[15] Michael Gray also describes this song in detail:

"There's an interesting tension, too, in 'Cold Irons Bound,' perhaps more accurately an interesting inappropriateness between, on one side, the grinding electronic blizzard of the music and the cold, aircraft-hangar echo of the voice lamenting its sojourn across a lethal planet—fields turned brown, sky lowering with clouds of blood, winds that can tear you to shreds, mists like quicksand—and on the other side the recurrently stated pursuit of tenderness, in phrases that seem imported from another consciousness.."[16]

"Make You Feel My Love"
Main article: Make You Feel My Love

The song "Make You Feel My Love" was recorded twice under the title "To Make You Feel My Love" by other artists: Billy Joel recorded the song for his Greatest Hits Volume III collection; Garth Brooks recorded it first for the Hope Floats soundtrack. It was recorded under the original title by Bryan Ferry on Dylanesque and by Adele on 19. This song was criticized for its lyrical inferiority by Robert Christgau[17] and Greg Kot of Rolling Stone. In his review, Kot described the track as "a spare ballad undermined by greetingcard lyrics [that] breaks the album's spell".[18] Opposing his view, Dylan critic Paul Williams said that it was "refreshing" to his ears. He said: "...the ultimate effect is to strengthen the spell the whole record casts—thus musical and verbal break is exactly in place"[19]

"Can't Wait"

The penultimate track of the album is "Can't Wait". An alternate version of this song is included in the album The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 – Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989–2006. Greg Kot wrote, "On Time Out of Mind, [Dylan] paints a self-portrait with words and sound that pivots around a single line from the album's penultimate song, 'Can't Wait': "That's how it is when things disintegrate.""[18]

"Highlands"
Main article: Highlands (song)

The closing track, the longest composition ever recorded by Dylan, the 16-minute "Highlands", most probably took its central motif ("My heart's in the highlands") from a poem by Robert Burns called "My heart's in the highlands" (published in 1790).[20][21] In Jim Dickinson's account, "I remember, when we finished 'Highlands'—there are two other versions of that, the one that made the record is the rundown, literally, you can hear the beat turn over, which I think Dylan liked. But, anyway, after we finished it, one of the managers came out, and he said, “Well, Bob, have you got a short version of that song?” And Dylan looked at him and said: 'That was the short version.'"[22]

The song describes a story of the narrator and his interactions with a waitress of a restaurant in Boston Town. Dylan mentions Neil Young and Erica Jong in this song. Keith Phillips of The A. V. Club wrote: "The material here is generally slow and meditative, lending the work a consistent tone appropriately capped by the 16-minute "Highlands," a "Desolation Row"-style experiment with an extended song form; it's further proof that the singer/songwriter is far from coasting."[23]

Outtakes[edit]

Fifteen different songs were recorded for Time Out of Mind, of which eleven would make the final cut.[24]

The first song that did not was "Mississippi", which was re-recorded for "Love and Theft". According to Dylan, "If you had heard the original recording of ['Mississippi'], you'd see in a second" why it was omitted and recut for Love and Theft. "The song was pretty much laid out intact melodically, lyrically and structurally, but Lanois didn't see it. Thought it was pedestrian. Took it down the Afro-polyrhythm route—multirhythm drumming, that sort of thing. Polyrhythm has its place, but it doesn't work for knife-like lyrics trying to convey majesty and heroism."[25] Dylan offered the song to Sheryl Crow,[26] who recorded it for The Globe Sessions, released in 1998, before Dylan revisited it for "Love and Theft". Three outtakes of "Mississippi" from the Time Out Of Mind sessions were included on The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 – Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989–2006 (two versions on the generally released discs and one on a bonus disc included with the Deluxe Edition of the album).

A second outtake, "Dreamin' of You"', since released on Tell Tale Signs, was unveiled for the first time as a free download on Dylan's website. Dreamin' of You's lyrics were largely adapted into "Standing in the Doorway", though the melody and music are completely different. The music video, which starred Harry Dean Stanton, premiered on Amazon.com.

Two more songs, "Red River Shore" (which according to Jim Dickinson was "the best song there was from the session"[22]) and "Marching to the City" (which evolved into "'Til I Fell in Love with You"), were left off the final cut. They were both included on Tell Tale Signs.

On past albums, some fans have criticized Dylan for some of the creative decisions made with his albums, particularly with song selection. Time Out of Mind was no different except this time the criticism came from colleagues who were disappointed to see their personal favorites left on the shelf. When Dylan accepted the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, he mentioned Columbia Records chairman Don Ienner, who "convinced me to put [the album] out, although his favorite songs aren't on it."[5]

Reception[edit]

Commercial reception[edit]

Time Out of Mind was a commercial success for Dylan. It was widely hailed as Dylan's comeback album and U.S. sale soon passed platinum[27] and stayed on best-selling charts for 29 weeks.[28] In UK the sales passed gold.[29] The album, in other countries also, managed to secure positions on best-selling charts and remained there for several weeks.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[30]
The A.V. Club Favorable[23]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[18]
Robert Christgau A−[17]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5 stars[31]

Time Out of Mind received mostly positive reviews from critics. Robert Christgau said "The hooks are Dylan's spectral vocals—just his latest ventriloquist's trick, a new take on ancient, yet so real, so ordained—and a band whose quietude evokes the sleepy postjunk funk of Clapton's 461 Ocean Boulevard without the nearness of sex."[17] On the NY Rock website, critic Cook Young called the album's songs "superb".[32] He described Time Out of Mind as "a curious album. It’s sort of two records mixed together. Half the songs compare to the introspective plaintive compositions that we witnessed on Blood on the Tracks. The other half are 12-bar blues ditties that often sound as if Bob is making ’em up as he goes."[32]

Some critics criticized Lanois' production on Time Out of Mind. Allmusic senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote, "...Time Out of Mind has a grittier foundation—by and large, the songs are bitter and resigned, and Dylan gives them appropriately anguished performances. Lanois bathes them in hazy, ominous sounds, which may suit the spirit of the lyrics, but are often in opposition to Dylan's performances."[30] Michael Gray writes, "The sound is elsewhere unhelpful too on Time Out of Mind. Some tracks have Dylan so buried in echo that there is no hope of hearing the detailing in his voice that was once so central and diamondlike a part of his genius."[33]

Aftermath[edit]

Shortly after completing the album, Dylan became seriously ill with near-fatal histoplasmosis. His forthcoming tour was canceled, and Dylan spent most of June 1997 in excruciating pain.[34] A potentially serious condition (caused by the fungal infection histoplasma capsulatum), it makes breathing very difficult. "It was something called histoplasmosis that came from just accidentally inhaling a bunch of stuff that was out on one of the rivers by where I live," said Dylan. "Maybe one month, or two to three days out of the year, the banks around the river get all mucky, and then the wind blows and a bunch of swirling mess is in the air. I happened to inhale a bunch of that. That's what made me sick. It went into my heart area, but it wasn't anything really attacking my heart." Dylan told Guitar World magazine.[10]

In light of Dylan's May 1997 health scare, a number of columnists, including Dylanologist A.J. Weberman, speculated that the songs on Time Out of Mind were inspired by an increased awareness of his own mortality. This was despite the fact that all of the songs were completed, recorded, and even mixed before he was hospitalized. In interviews following its release, Dylan, also, downplayed these speculations with much reserve.[10]

My recollection of that record is that it was a struggle. A struggle every inch of the way. Ask Daniel Lanois, who was trying to produce the songs. Ask anyone involved in it. They all would say the same....As a result, though it held together as a collection of songs, that album sounds to me a little off. There's a sense of some wheels going this way some wheels going that, but hey, we're just about getting there.

Bob Dylan[35]

Beside being ranked as number 408 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, in both Pazz & Jop's critics poll[36] and Uncut magazine,[37] Time Out of Mind was voted as album of the year.

40th Grammy Awards[edit]

At the 1998 Grammy Awards, Time Out of Mind won in the categories of Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk Album and, for "Cold Irons Bound", Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. At the awards ceremony Dylan performed the song "Love Sick". During the performance, Michael Portnoy, an American multimedia artist and choreographer, ripped off his shirt, ran up next to Dylan, and started dancing and contorting spastically with the words "Soy Bomb" painted in black across his chest. Dylan shot an alarmed glance at Portnoy, but carried on playing. Portnoy continued to dance for about 40 seconds, until security escorted him off stage.[38]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Bob Dylan

No. Title Length
1. "Love Sick"   5:21
2. "Dirt Road Blues"   3:36
3. "Standing in the Doorway"   7:43
4. "Million Miles"   5:52
5. "Tryin' to Get to Heaven"   5:21
6. "'Til I Fell in Love with You"   5:17
7. "Not Dark Yet"   6:29
8. "Cold Irons Bound"   7:15
9. "Make You Feel My Love"   3:32
10. "Can't Wait"   5:47
11. "Highlands"   16:31
Total length:
72:50

Personnel[edit]

Additional musicians
Technical personnel

Sales chart positions and certification[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart Peak
Position
Australia[39] 24
Austria[39] 12
Belgium[39] 11
Finland[39] 28
France[39] 15
Germany[39] 6
Netherlands[39] 28
New Zealand[39] 11
Norway[39] 2
Spain[40] 36
Sweden[39] 5
Switzerland[39] 20
United Kingdom[41] 10
United States[28] 10

Certifications[edit]

Country Certification
United Kingdom Gold[29]
United States Platinum[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "#408 Time Out of Mind" "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" November 1, 2003. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  2. ^ Zollo, Paul. "Song talk interview by Paul Zollo". GBS No. 3 booklet. Retrieved December 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Drozdowski, Ted. "'97 flashback:How Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind Survived Stormy Studio Sessions". gibson.com. Retrieved December 17, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Daniel Lanois interview with Charlie Rose". charlierose.com. Retrieved December 15, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c 1998 Grammy Album of the year acceptance speech. 
  6. ^ "Lanois interview". neuhouse.com. Retrieved December 17, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Jim Dickinson 2002 interview". furious.com. Retrieved December 15, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c Thomson, Elizabeth and Gutman, David (2001). "Jackson, Joe (1997). "Ruminations on Mortality"". The Dylan Companion. Da Capo Press. pp. 306–09. ISBN 0-306-80968-0. 
  9. ^ Heylin, Clinton (2001). Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Revisited. HarperCollins. p. 699. ISBN 0-06-052569-X. 
  10. ^ a b c Dylan, Bob (March 1999). Guitar world interview. Interview with Murray Engleheart. 
  11. ^ Gray, Michael. The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. The Continuum International Publishing. p. 433. 
  12. ^ Gray, Michael. The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. The Continuum International Publishing. p. 397. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Ricks, Christopher B. (2004). Dylan's Visions of Sin. HarperCollins. p. 369. ISBN 0-06-059923-5. 
  15. ^ Trager, Oliver (2004). Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia'. Billboard Books. p. 110. 
  16. ^ Gray, Michael (2000). Song & Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan. Continuum. p. 750. 
  17. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert. "Review of Time Out of Mind". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved December 18, 2010. 
  18. ^ a b c Kot, Greg. "Review of Time Out of Mind". Rolling Stone magazine. Retrieved December 18, 2010. 
  19. ^ Williams, Paul (2005). Bob Dylan, Performing Artist: 1986–1990 and beyond (Mind Out Of Time). Omnibus Press. pp. 315–316. ISBN 1-84449-831-X. 
  20. ^ dylanchords.info. "Time Out of Mind on Dylanchords.info". Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  21. ^ Williams, Paul (2005). Bob Dylan, Performing Artist: 1986–1990 and beyond (Mind Out Of Time). Omnibus Press. p. 317. ISBN 1-84449-831-X. 
  22. ^ a b "Jim Dickinson on Uncut". uncut.co.uk. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  23. ^ a b Phillips, Keith. "A.V. Club review of Time Out of Mind". avclub.com. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  24. ^ "Time Out of Mind outtakes". bjorner.com. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  25. ^ Carvill, John. "You Had To Ask Me Where It Was At: Bob Dylan & the Media". oomska.co.uk. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  26. ^ "For A&m, The Globe's The Limit On Third Sheryl Crow Album", By MELINDA NEWMAN, Publication: Billboard, Date: Saturday, August 29, 1998
  27. ^ a b "RIAA certification". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  28. ^ a b Billboard chart
  29. ^ a b "Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. 2010. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  30. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Allmusic review of Time Out of Mind". allmusic. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  31. ^ Walter, Miguel. "Review of Time Out of Mind". Sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved December 18, 2010. 
  32. ^ a b Young, Cook. "Review of Time Out of Mind". NY Rock. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  33. ^ Gray, Michael. The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. Continuum. p. 398. 
  34. ^ Weber, Bruce (May 29, 1997). " "Dylan in Hospital With Chest Pains; Europe Tour Is Off". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  35. ^ "Sunday L. A. Times interview with Dylan". new-pony.com. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  36. ^ "The 1997 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  37. ^ "Uncut album of the year list". rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  38. ^ "NY Times reprint". Expectingrain.com. 1998-03-03. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Bob Dylan -Time Out of Mind charts". AustrianCharts.com. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  40. ^ Ready of AFYVE: 1997
  41. ^ Official Charts Company