Posts Tagged ‘Time’

Ever since the announcement a few weeks ago that Bob Dylan has been awarded the 2016 Nobel prize for literature, I’ve been making an effort to listen to a wider variety of his songs. Unlike some of the famous people who praised his getting the Nobel prize, I am not someone who listens to his music every day, even though he is my favourite songwriter. In fact, I probably don’t even listen to him every week, and I’ve realised that when I do listen to his music I’ve been tending to listen to the same five or six albums from his vast catalogue.

So, over the last few weeks I’ve been making a conscience effort to listen to a wider variety of his songs, and one of my favourites of his recent albums (last 20 years!) is his 1997 album Time Out of Mind. This is the album which contains “Make You Feel My Love”, a song made famous by Adele on her first album 19. I have blogged about their respective versions of that song here. Most people who know Adele’s version don’t know that it is a Dylan song, but that has always been true of Dylan’s work. When The Byrds had a hit with “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1965, many people did not know that it was a Dylan song. Ditto Peter, Paul and Mary’s hit with “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 1963, and Guns ‘n’ Roses 1991 hit with “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”.

Another beautiful song on Time Out of Mind is this one, “Not Dark Yet”. It is such a haunting song, with both a beautiful melody and sublime lyrics.


The song “Not Dark Yet” is from Bob Dylan’s 1997 album Time Out of Mind.

Although most of Dylan’s songs are, sadly, not available on YouTube (this one is!), all of his lyrics can be found on his official website. Here is the link to the lyrics for this song. In addition to being able to read the lyrics of each of his songs on his website, you can also see on which album or albums the song is available, including alternative versions.

Amazingly, a particular page for a given song also keeps a tab of how many times Dylan has performed the song in concert, including the first date on which he performed it and the date of his latest performance of that song. As Dylan has been on tour almost continuously for the last 20 years, it is not surprising to see that this song “Not Dark Yet” has been performed over 150 times, but sadly it would seem that he has not performed it since 2012.

To me, “Not Dark Yet” speaks of a weariness and, possibly, tiredness with life, with existence. The man in the song (maybe a facet of Dylan himself?) seems to have lost his ability or desire to enjoy life. He feels like life has become too hard; he has become too weary, unfeeling and cynical. I find the lyrics captivating; such a moving expression of lost youth, lost passion and lost hope. The lines “Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain / Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain” crystallise the sentiments of the song.

Shadows are falling and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep, time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writing what was in her mind
I just don’t see why I should even care
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Well, I’ve been to London and I’ve been to gay Paree
I’ve followed the river and I got to the sea
I’ve been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain’t looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Here is the official video of this haunting song. Enjoy!

Which is your favourite Bob Dylan song from the last 25 years of his work?


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