061 – “Things Have Changed”

Episode 61 
“Things Have Changed.” 
Blockhouse. 
#4 of Music Video Month 2018.
Recorded July 15, 2018. 

There wasn’t any wasted effort on Time Out of Mind, and I don’t think there will be on any more of my records.

Bob Dylan (1999)

Context 

Diverting from a tour with Paul Simon in July of 1999, Dylan dipping into the Sony Studios in New York City and cut “Things Have Changed” with Charlie Sexton and Larry Campbell on guitar, Tony Garnier on bass, and David Kemper on drums. Engineer Chris Shaw noted that the song took them an afternoon.

The song was released on the Wonder Boys soundtrack. The movie’s director, Curtis Hanson, was going to use “Not Dark Yet” over the credits, but Dylan presented him this original. Dylan would go on to win an Oscar (and Golden Globe) for the original song. It’s also been a staple of his live show from March 2000 to April 2018, it’s been performed 892 times. 

Song Itself

Lyrically, he incorporated scenes from the movie into the song, which is impressive. Yet he’s still thematically into the impending end, those “last trains” and “all hell breaking loose” business. Depending on your point of view, the song is either empowering or defeatist.

Accompanied by driving rhythms, Dylan’s voice (sounding increasingly like that of an old man) reports on a final passage into the absurd. “I’m locked in tight,” he sings, but then he growls: “I’m out of range.” When a rupture of such proportions has opened up between self and world, things lose their meaning because I no longer care. Hence the punch line: “I used to care, but things have changed.” 

Carl Porter, Bob Dylan and Philosophy

Carl Porter opened up this dialogue out of this song around tranquility and tranquil skepticism. “Up to now,” Porter writes, “we say that the aim of the sceptic is tranquility in matters of opinion and moderation of feeling in matters forced upon us. For Sceptics began to do philosophy in order to decide which are true and which false, so as to become tranquil… Dylan’s most recent work develops the theme of a skeptical tranquility. In the 2000 single, ‘Things Have Changed,’ Dylan’s attitude is ‘only a fool in here would think he’s got anything to prove.'” But he continued:

But it would be misleading to portray this as a new attitude of Dylan’s. The clearest precursor is another, earlier single, “Watching the River Flow,” where Dylan renounces confusion for a suspense of judgment and a life of tranquility: “I’ll just sit here so contentedly / And watch the river flow.” The river of time, the flow of facts, in reality remains unaffected by winds of belief, the flow of changing opinions.

This podcast is called Sign on the Window for a reason.

Mixed Up Confusion

Recommendations (26:00)

Kelly finally gave The Smith Street Band her time, as well as Dumb Gay Politics.

Daniel listened to Bad Cop Bad Cop Warriors and Deafheaven Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. Daniel also ambushes Kelly with the news that Minus the Bear are breaking up and playing a farewell tour ending in Portland and Seattle. 

Endings

Our final episode of Music Video Month has come down from on high: “Dreamin’ of You.”

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