Bob Dylan in 1998/9: the road to the Oscar

By Tony Attwood

Having completed his first collection of new songs in years and years, Bob wrote nothing between January 1997 and July 1999.   It was his only recording of a new song in 1999, but what a song.

It is clear that Dylan knew what was in the movie rather than just providing a song, and it is clear that he most certainly wanted to provide a song for the film, since unlike “Lay Lady Lay” the whole process of creation and recording was done on time.

The film’s director, Curtis Hanson, stated that he sat with Dylan in the editing suite, watched some of the rushes and discussed the story line and the characters.  He concluded by saying “weeks later a CD arrived in the mail.”

There is a lot to be said for the idea that Things have changed wouldn’t have existed without “Time out of mind” which cleared away five years of non-activity in the recording studio.  According to interviews, “Things have changed” was taught to the band, recorded and mixed in one afternoon.  There were two takes: the first had a New Orleans feel, the second is the one that won the Oscar.

There are several versions of Dylan’s acceptance speech, but this one is really worth watching – and it is followed by a live performance of Things of Changed.

And this is where he thanks the Academy for being “bold enough to gie me this award for this song, which is obviously a song which doesn’t pussyfoot around or turn a blind eye to human nature.”

And for once I am with Heylin when he says, “Ain’t that the truth”.

The review of Things Have Changed on this site was one of the very early reviews on the site.  I’ve learned a lot over the years, and have tidied it up a bit, and added a postscript or two along the way.

What is on the site

1: Over 400 reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order below on this page, and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.  Also a list of the most read articles on this site.

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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