Wednesday 25 May 2011

My Back Pages, day 3

Today's choice is You Ain't Going Nowhere, recorded with The Band during Dylan's post-accident recuperation and finally released (officially, at least) on The Basement Tapes in 1975.

The Basement Tapes is one of my very favourite Bob Dylan albums. It marked a return to more traditional American music for Dylan who, up to the point he broke his neck falling from his motorcycle in Woodstock in 1966, had been blazing a trail of Byronic poetry set to a clattering, quicksilver blues backing.

The rate of technological progress that society has undergone since 1966 - or even since 1975, or 1998 when I first heard The Basement Tapes - has been remarkable. So remarkable, indeed, that it actually renders any number of popular song lyrics rather anachronistic. For people of my generation, who remember a time when telephones weren't something you carried in your pocket and the postman wasn't just an inconvenience, it's not so pronounced. But the day is already here when the entire grammar and lexicon of popular music has changed.

My love for The Basement Tapes stems very much from the genuinely timeless and evocative themes that its songs contain. You Ain't Going Nowhere just pips Please Mrs. Henry as my favourite of the bunch. Play it to a teenager now, or a teenager in a thousand years, and they'll still know what it's about. I think this is going to prove a rarer and rarer quality for the songs I grew up listening to and as such should be treasured.

Lyrics here.

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