Together Through Life
|Together Through Life|
|Studio album by Bob Dylan|
|Released||April 28, 2009|
|Genre||Folk rock, blues rock|
|Producer||Jack Frost (Bob Dylan pseudonym)|
|Bob Dylan chronology|
Together Through Life is the thirty-third studio album by singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on April 28, 2009, by Columbia Records. The album debuted at number one in several countries, including the U.S. and the UK. It is Dylan's first number one in Britain since New Morning in 1970.
Dylan wrote all but one of the album's songs with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, with whom he had previously co-written two songs on his 1988 album Down in the Groove. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Dylan commented on the collaboration: “Hunter is an old buddy, we could probably write a hundred songs together if we thought it was important or the right reasons were there... He's got a way with words and I do too. We both write a different type of song than what passes today for songwriting.” The only other writer Dylan has ever collaborated with to such a degree is Jacques Levy, with whom he wrote most of the songs on Desire in 1976.
Composition and recording
Dylan is backed on the album by his regular touring band, plus David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Dylan commented on Campbell's guitar work in his interview with Flanagan: “He's good with me. He's been playing with Tom for so long that he hears everything from a songwriter’s point of view and he can play most any style.” 
Release and promotion
Rumors of the album, reported in Rolling Stone magazine, came as a surprise, with no official press release until March 16, 2009—less than two months before the album's release date. Dylan produced the record under his pseudonym of Jack Frost, which he used for his previous two studio albums, Love and Theft and Modern Times. The album was rumored to contain "struggling love songs" and have little similarity to Modern Times.
The album's cover photo is the same as that on the cover of American author Larry Brown's short story collection, Big Bad Love. It is a picture taken by photographer Bruce Davidson.
Sources and quotations
As with some of Dylan's albums before Together Through Life, Dylan has adapted lyrics from other songs and incorporated them into his own lyrics—if with perhaps a 'slightly diminished use of the light-fingered lift', compared with 'Dylan's lyrical approach from recent albums'. The phrase "If you ever go to Houston, you better walk right" is taken from the folk song "Midnight Special": Dylan played harmonica on Harry Belafonte's 1962 recording of the song. 'The one time he overtly used someone else's song as a springboard for his own - Billy Joe Shaver's "Ain't No God in Mexico", a clear template for "I Feel a Change Comin' On" - he openly acknowledged the debt to historian Douglas Brinkley'.
In a conversation with music journalist Bill Flanagan, published on Bob Dylan's official website, Flanagan suggested a similarity of the new record to the sound of Chess Records and Sun Records, which Dylan acknowledged as an effect of "the way the instruments were played." He said that the genesis of the record was when French film director Olivier Dahan asked him to supply a song for his new road movie, My Own Love Song, which became "Life is Hard". Indeed, 'according to Dylan, Dahan was keen to get a whole soundtrack's worth of songs from the man' - and "then the record sort of took its own direction."
|The A.V. Club||A-|
|Tiny Mix Tapes|||
Reception has been favorable. The record maintains a score of 76/100 at critic aggregator MetaCritic ("Generally favorable reviews"). During the Flanagan interview, Dylan gave his own thoughts about how the record would be received: "I know my fans will like it. Other than that, I have no idea".
Rolling Stone gave the album 4 stars out of 5. Describing the album as a "murky-sounding, often perplexing record", David Fricke of Rolling Stone writes, "Dylan, who turns 68 in May, has never sounded as ravaged, pissed off and lusty". BBC noted that the album is "a masterful reading of 20th century American folk, albeit shot through with some mischievous lyrical twists" and compares it to "some Chicago urban blues tribute". According to Mojo, "Together Through Life is an album that gets its hooks in early and refuses to let go". The reviewer described it as "dark yet comforting". Uncut and Blender both gave the album 5 stars out of 5, saying that it was "unbelievably good." iF Magazine.com says it "explores the bluesy side of his skills in a slight, but delightful set of ten originals."
Corey DuBrowa of Paste Magazine, in his 8.10/10 review, stated:
Dylan’s never spent much time contemplating the rearview mirror, but Together Through Life finds him more resolutely focused on the treacherous horizon ever before: Song after song decries the mess we’re in (the sneering, sarcastic jump-blues “It’s All Good,” in which Dylan’s ravaged voice attacks the clichéd phrase as if it represented every banker, politician and Ponzi-scheme cheat he could conjure; “My Wife’s Home Town,” a bluesy jaunt that surveys the current economic wreckage as if from the passenger-side window of a car up on blocks) without forsaking the idea that love—and the comfort we find in shared misery—is essentially all we have left when a lifetime of ambition and achievement are swept away by the winds of change. You’d have to go all the way back to 1974’s Planet Waves—which Dylan summarized as “cast-iron songs & torch ballads”—to find a record on which he sounds so simultaneously anxious and enervated. Indeed, when Dylan croaks in “I Feel a Change Comin’ On,” “[I’ve] got the blood of the land in my voice,” you can hear quite plainly the sadness, disappointment and exhaustion of which he sings.
The album is available as a one-CD version containing only the new material that Dylan recorded, or as a 3-disc deluxe version including the album itself, the "Friends & Neighbors" episode of Theme Time Radio Hour and a DVD featuring an interview with Dylan's first manager Roy Silver (recorded for the Martin Scorsese documentary No Direction Home, but unused).
There is also a two-LP deluxe vinyl version, containing the same songs as the CD. In the US, the CD is included as part of the vinyl package.
- Disc one
All lyrics written by Bob Dylan and Robert Hunter, except where noted; all music composed by Dylan.
|1.||"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'"||3:51|
|2.||"Life Is Hard"||3:39|
|3.||"My Wife's Home Town"||Willie Dixon, Dylan, Hunter||4:15|
|4.||"If You Ever Go to Houston"||5:49|
|7.||"This Dream of You"||Dylan||5:54|
|8.||"Shake Shake Mama"||3:37|
|9.||"I Feel a Change Comin' On"||5:25|
|10.||"It's All Good"||5:28|
- Disc two
- Theme Time Radio Hour: Friends & Neighbors
|1.||"Howdy Neighbor" (Porter Wagoner & The Wagonmasters)||J. Morris|
|2.||"Don't Take Everybody to Be Your Friend" (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)||M.Gabler, R. Tharpe|
|3.||"Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" (T-Bone Burnett)||L. Robin, J. Styne|
|4.||"La Valse de Amitie" (Doc Guidry)||O. Guidry|
|5.||"Make Friends" (Moon Mullican)||E. Mcgraw|
|6.||"My Next Door Neighbor" (Jerry McCain)||J. McCain|
|7.||"Let's Invite Them Over" (George Jones & Melba Montgomery)||O. Wheeler|
|8.||"My Friends" (Howlin' Wolf)||C. Burnett, S. Ling|
|9.||"Last Night" (Little Walter)||W. Jones|
|10.||"You've Got a Friend" (Carole King)||C. King|
|11.||"Bad Neighborhood" (Ronnie & The Delinquents)||Caronna, M. Rebennack|
|12.||"Neighbours" (The Rolling Stones)||M. Jagger, K. Richards|
|13.||"Too Many Parties and Too Many Pals" (Hank Williams)||B. Rose, M. Dixon, R. Henderson|
|14.||"Why Can't We Be Friends" (War)||S. Allen, H. Brown, M. Dickerson, J. Goldstein, L. Jordan, C. Miller, H. Scott, L. Oskar|
- Disc three
|1.||"Roy Silver – The Lost Interview (DVD)"|
- Additional musicians
- Mike Campbell – guitar, mandolin
- Tony Garnier – bass guitar
- Donnie Herron – steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, trumpet
- David Hidalgo – accordion, guitar
- George Receli – drums
- Technical personnel
- David Bianco – recording, mixing
- Eddy Schreyer - mastering
- Bill Lane – assistant engineering
- Rafael Serrano – engineering
- David Spreng – engineering
- Rich Tosti – assistant engineering
The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 125,000 copies in its first week of release. It then reached number one on Top Internet Album, Top Digital Album, Tastemaker, Top Rock Album, and Most Comprehensive Album. In the US the album has sold more than 300,000 copies to date.
|2009||Argentina Albums Chart ||1|
|Australia Albums Chart ||5|
|Austria Albums Chart ||1|
|Belgium Albums Chart ||2|
|Canada Albums Chart ||1|
|Denmark Albums Chart ||1|
|Dutch Albums Chart ||3|
|Finland Albums Chart ||6|
|France Albums Chart ||9|
|Germany Albums Chart ||2|
|Ireland Albums Chart ||2|
|Italy Albums Chart ||6|
|Japan Albums Chart ||2|
|New Zealand Albums Chart ||3|
|Spain Albums Chart ||4|
|Sweden Albums Chart ||1|
|Switzerland Albums Chart ||2|
|UK Albums Chart ||1|
|U.S. Billboard 200 ||1|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- Caulfield 2009
- Bob Dylan beats The Enemy to Number One
- Bob Dylan Talks About Working With Robert Hunter On 'Together Through Life'
- Flanigan 2009
- Beyond Here Lies Nothin' Songfacts
- Kreps 2009
- Flanagan, Bill. "Bob Dylan on Barack Obama, Ulysses Grant and American Civil War ghosts""Times Online", 2009-04-06. Retrieved on 2009-04-08
- Heylin, p. 838
- Goon Talk. "Vive le Vol: Bob Dylan and the Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway." July 21, 2013. (Retrieved 9-19-2013.)
- Clinton Heylin, Behind the Shades: The 20th Anniversary Edition (London 2011) p. 837
- "Together Through Life Reviews". Metacritic.com. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Together Through Life at AllMusic
- Blender (magazine) review
- Mojo (magazine) review
- Wolk, Douglas (April 30, 2009). "Bob Dylan: Together Through Life". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
- Robert Christgau review
- Rolling Stone review
- The Times review
- Tiny Mix Tapes review
- Uncut (magazine) review
- "Together Through Life by Bob Dylan". metacritic.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
- Fricke, David (2009-04-13). "Bob Dylan: Together Through Life". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
- Eccleston, Danny (2009-04-17). "New Dylan Album: The First-In-Depth Review". mojo-4-music.com. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
- "Bob Dylan Christmas Album Coming". Billboard.com. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Caulfield, Keith (2009-05-06). "Bob Dylan Bows Atop Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- "Australia Albums Top 50 - Music Charts". Acharts.us. 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "Austria Albums Top 75 - Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "Belgium Albums Top 50 - Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "CANOE – JAM! Music SoundScan Charts". Jam.canoe.ca. 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "Denmark Albums Top 40 – Music Charts". Acharts.us. 2012-01-06. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "Dutch Albums Top 100 - Music Charts". Acharts.us. 2012-01-07. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Suomen virallinen lista
- "Ireland Albums Top 75 - Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "洋楽アルバム 週間ランキング-ORICON STYLE ランキング". Oricon.co.jp. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "Representando a la Industria Argentina de la Música". CAPIF. Archived from the original on 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Steffen Hung. "Bob Dylan – Together Through Life". swisscharts.com. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "UK Albums Top 75 - Music Charts". Acharts.us. 2012-01-08. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Caulfield, Keith (2009-05-06). "Bob Dylan Lands Fifth No. 1 Album". Billboard. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- "Irish album certifications – Bob Dylan – Together Through Life". Irish Recorded Music Association.
- "British album certifications – Bob Dylan – Together Through Life". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Together Through Life in the search field and then press Enter.
- "Bob Dylan beats The Enemy to Number One". NME. May 3, 2009. Archived from the original on January 7, 2018. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- "Bob Dylan Talks About Working With Robert Hunter On 'Together Through Life'". Rolling Stone. May 3, 2009. Archived from the original on May 29, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Caulfield, Keith (May 6, 2009). "Bob Dylan Bows Atop Billboard 200". Billboard. Archived from the original on January 12, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Flanigan, Bill (April 10, 2009). "Bob Dylan talks about the new album with Bill Flanagan". Bobdylan.com. Archived from the original on April 25, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Kreps, Daniel (March 16, 2009). "Bob Dylan's New Album "Together Through Life" Due April 28th". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 19, 2009. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Bob Dylan talks about the new album with Bill Flanagan
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