Bob Dylan’s Together Though Life turns 1 today, and it’s still constantly on my playlist. Ever since Time Out of Mind in 1997, Dylan has been on a creative high. Time Out of Mind was followed by the what -really-might-be-his-best-since-Blood-on-The-Tracks – Love & Theft. 2006’s Modern Times was pretty good too, but a kind of somber and weighty affair. On the other hand, Together Though Life is perhaps the first time since Blonde on Blonde where Dylan lets loose and sounds like he was making music just for the hell of it and actually enjoying himself in the process. There’s a twisted chuckle at the end of “My Wife’s Hometown”, and an cry out of “woo!” in the middle of “It’s All Good”.
Together Through Life is probably the closest studio incarnation to Dylan’s never-ending-tour where every night is a surprise and melodies and songs change constantly – but the music is always rooted in blues and pre-rock and roll music. Dylan even takes the melody of Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love To You” for the hilarious “My Wife’s Hometown”. Dylan being Dylan though his wife’s hometown is hell and she’s got “stuff more potent than a gypsy curse”. “Forgetful Heart” might be his best ballad in years. “I lay awake and listen to the sound of pain,” Dylan sings in the voice that has now become more of a growl . “The door has closed forevermore. If indeed there ever was a door.” This is the song of a lonely man, but even his old age he still has the bite of his younger years.
Rolling Stone recently reported that 16 unreleased Dylan songs will appear on the soundtrack to My Own Love Song that served as the genesis for Together Through Life. Director Olivier Dahan asked Dylan to contribute “Life Is Hard” for the movie, but Dylan kept on writing and compiled what would eventually become Together Through Life. While I will surely get the soundtrack, I’m also hoping that this year we’ll get the Bootleg Series 9. If not, as Dylan sings on Together Through Life – “you know what they say man. It’s all good.”