Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ and Red River Shore

Thanks to Liam Mogan:

“Undoubtedly like all readers of your marvellous website, I downloaded the first track off of the new album as soon as I knew about it.

“I can only heartily agree with Gerald Bamford on the similarities to Otis Rush and the seminal 'Beano' Bluesbreakers album. (Didn't Dylan attempt to record with Clapton & Co. around this time?)

“It’s definitely whetted my appetite for the new release, despite the awful cover which has an alarming similarity to a Levi's Jean advert! Beyond Here Lies Nothin' has a grimy, bluesy feel which is a definite improvement on the flatness and, after repeated listens, the dullness of most of 'Modern Times'

“As making often dubious connections and analytical leaps of faith is the lifeblood of many Dylan commentators, I would like to put forward my own hastily cobbled together 'theory' of the motivation behind the return of 'Colombia Recording Artist', Bob Dylan.

“Integral to this theory is the accordion, which, if reports are to believed, dominates 'Together Through Life'. Did Dylan, after the release of 'Tell Tale Signs', realise that the awe-inspiring, accordion-driven, seven minutes of wonderment that is 'Red River Shore' represent a lost opportunity in his continual search for artistic fulfilment?

“I listened to 'Beyond Here Lies Nothin'' and 'Red River Shore' back-to-back just before midnight last night and was struck by how on completely different tracks the accordion plays the same role.

“Clearly it improves the sound of the tracks, but also emotionally it adds a richness that would otherwise be missing.

“On 'Red River Shore' (the disc 1 version, the version on the 'exploitative' disc 3 is but a pale shadow) the accordion conveys the mood of the singer, heightening the emotional pull of the words which on the right day and with the right amount of whisky could bring a man to tears.

“The small accordion refrain after each line on 'Beyond Here Lies Nothin' ' (and the accordion which mimics the long solo in the second half of the song) adds to the playfulness, joy and, may I suggest, a certain biblical wickedness the singer is attempting to convey. The enjoyable on-the-edge of town/on the border feel of the track is created by that accordion.

“A quick flick through Dylan's official releases and the subsequent bootleg series releases is a clear indication that self-assessment is not always this artist’s particular forte.

“Take 'Blind Willie McTell', which, despite being cut from 'Infidels', has now (thank God) been positively re-assessed by Bob to the extent that it regularly crops up in concert and even appeared on the latest best-of compilation, 'DYLAN'.

“My hypothesis is that 'Red River Shore' is cut from the same cloth. A masterpiece, unfathomably overlooked when recorded, whose eventual release has inspired its writer to attempt capture that magic once again. With an accordion!”