Bob Dylan’s Grammies: Album of the year 1998 – Time out of mind

by Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

Previously in this series:

Album of the Year Winner 1998 – Time Out Of Mind

The nominations were

  • Paul McCartney – Flaming Pie
  • Radiohead – Ok Computer
  • Babyface – The Day
  • Paula Cole – This Fire

Aaron: In my reviewing of this award it would appear there was at the time much controversy around the decision to give Bob this award over the Radiohead album. The theory (in a nutshell) goes that, sure it’s a great late career comeback album, plus Bob’s recent health issues had led some to believe this might be his last album,  and maybe that’s why he won this one, but that the Radiohead album was groundbreaking, a one of a kind, one of the greatest albums of all time.

I’m going to ignore the Babyface and Paula Cole albums here as I listened to them and just didn’t like them very much I’m afraid to say! Not sure why they would be nominated along with the three other, genuinely great albums here? Particularly when there were also fantastic albums released that year from Bowie, Blur, Elliott Smith, Nick Cave not to mention Van Morrison’s brilliant The Healing Game.

Similar to Bob’s album, McCartney’s Flaming Pie album is another late career highlight coming on the back of The Beatles Anthology series. I’m a big fan of this album and am the proud owner of the recent 7 disc deluxe box set. Here are a couple of my favorite tracks

Tony: Musically this is a super track, but when we get to the “We always came back” I think the difference between McCartney as a composer and Dylan, comes to the fore.   I can’t imagine Dylan, in a song like this having a chorus which consisted of two lines repeated.   Of course McC was a great songwriter, but somehow for me he lacked that phenomenal depth that Dylan still had by this time.

Incidentally it is McCartney’s 80th birthday next year.  I imagine he’ll have the same interest uptake as Bob had – particularly in England.   If transport systems have opened I suspect Liverpool will have a year long carnival.

This is much better in my view: a beautifully executed love song.  For anyone who has been truly and deeply in love it is perfection in music.

But moving on…

Aaron: Ok Computer is indeed a once in a lifetime album. In 2014 , it was included by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

It contains my two favorite Radiohead tracks (plus Paranoid Android isn’t bad either!)

No Surprises

Tony: Yes well, as my friends will immediately attest a song that contains the lines

Bring down the government
They don't, they don't speak for us

gets my vote, but oh I can’t stand the video.  That fear of drowning cuts in and I have to close my eyes.

I don’t have any Radiohead albums and am probably the only person in the country who doesn’t listen to them, but I can appreciate why this was nominated

Karma Police

Aaron: As to who should have won this one, my heart say Paul or Bob but my head says Radiohead. Let’s see what Tony thinks! Maybe I’m going to get asked to leave the site for that!!

Tony: The problem is history and life.   Historically Dylan’s album has been part of me.  I really can recall the very moment I first heard “Not dark yet” – and know exactly where I was standing (not just which city I was in, or which house, but the exact place I was) who I was standing with, what I said, what I did… the impact that song had on me was just utterly overwhelming and extraordinary.

And here’s a thought.  “Not dark yet” was Dylan’s first single since “Dignity”.  I’m not quite sure why that seems important, but somehow it does.

It was also the first time I started to think about Dylan’s songs not in isolation, but as a sequence, and I spent a long time listening to the album in that way – feeling the very specific connection between one song and the next throughout.  In fact (and in that very inward looking way that writers can sometimes have) I just looked up my review on this site written nearly 14 years ago (oh my could it really be that long?????) in which I started to explore the notion of Dylan riding a wave.

But enough… the Dylan album is of course an utter masterpiece.  Nothing else can compare.

By chance, my dance partner and I have been able to keep rehearsing during the lock down that has beset our country for the last 10 years (or so it seems) and by chance we’re just working on a dance arrangement of this version below.   It’s great fun to do, and by and large it keeps us ol’ timers off the streets.

Don’t worry however.  The few videos of us dancing are kept well out of the way, so unless you are attending clubs in certain parts of the English east midlands, you are unlikely to stumble across any of our reworkings of the whole concept of blues and jive dancing.

If you would like to read more, Untold Dylan also has a very active Facebook group: Untold Dylan.

If you would like to see some of our series they are listed under the picture at the top of the page, and the most recent entries can be found on the home page.

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