1985: The year of Dylan not drowning in someone else’s wine

By Tony Attwood

1985 was a strange year for Bob.  He seemed to be struggling to find songs to put on his albums, and wrote some strange pieces with Gerry Goffin, but in the midst of it all he came up with four staggeringly wonderful songs.

Maybe Someday really is a stand out piece, not least because of its combination of energy and unusual rhythm effect from the percussion (something we also get with “Something’s burning baby” written in the previous year) which is simply not doing what you might expect it to be doing.  I don’t think the recorded version we have is perfect as there is a bit too much do-wop from the female singers, but it is still a fabulous song.

Then there is the much more obscure co-written Well well well.   As I go back to look at some of the reviews I have written I am always afraid that links I have offered to recordings placed on the internet might have broken, but at least for the moment (April 2017) both links to “Well, well, well” are still there.

If you don’t know the song, I would strongly urge you to play both versions – although with the first version by the co-writer, you might care to omit his opening remarks which last a minute or two.

Next on my list of great compositions for the year comes When the night comes falling from the sky  – one of Dylan’s epic recordings about the end of time which appeared on Empire Burlesque.  It is the song that contains the epic line

I don’t want to drown in someone else’s wine

It’s one of those lines that can keep a person pushing forward and searching forever – and that is exactly what the music gives us.  That eternal search for personal answers.  And quite a line to write after a year of working with others to try and find a new direction.

And then of course, Dark Eyes    Utterly, utterly remarkable.

So four masterful songs all from a period that some describe as one in which Dylan was searching and not finding a new direction.  Four songs that for anyone else would be the absolute pinnacle of a writing career.

  • Maybe Someday
  • Well well well
  • When the night comes falling
  • Dark Eyes

Not such a bad year after all.

Highlight of the year…  I’m endlessly torn between “Well well well” and “Dark Eyes”.  I guess it is “Dark Eyes” as “Well well well” is a co-composition.   But really, both are worth a very serious consideration.

I live in another world where life and death are memorized
Where the earth is strung with lovers’ pearls and all I see are dark eyes

Oh my.  Every time I hear those lines I just have to stop and look out of the window at the trees blowing in the wind and take time out to recover.

What is on the site

1: Over 360 reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order on the home page and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.

2: The Chronology.  We’ve taken all the songs we can find recordings of and put them in the order they were written (as far as possible) not in the order they appeared on albums.  The chronology is more or less complete and is now linked to all the reviews on the site.  We have also recently started to produce overviews of Dylan’s work year by year.     The index to the chronologies is here.

3: Bob Dylan’s themes.  We publish a wide range of articles about Bob Dylan and his compositions.  There is an index here.

4:   The Discussion Group    We now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

5:  Bob Dylan’s creativity.   We’re fascinated in taking the study of Dylan’s creative approach further.  The index is in Dylan’s Creativity.

6: You might also like: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews.

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