Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

473

Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan: Together Through Life

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Bob Dylan
Together Through Life
Columbia
2009



Let's put it out here right up front and not pussyfoot around: Together Through Life is one of the finest discs in singer/guitarist Bob Dylan's 40-plus album discography. It's up there with other benchmark Columbia releases like the groundbreaking Highway 61 Revisited (1965), Blonde On Blonde (1966), John Wesley Harding(1967), the underrated New Morning (1970), Blood On The Tracks (1975)—together comprising Dylan's early burst of genius—and more recently, Time Out Of Mind (1997), Love and Theft (2001), and now Together Through Life.

Good arguments can be made for the inclusion of several other Columbia sets in this rarified company, including Infidels (1983), Oh Mercy (1989) and Modern Times (2006). But what separates those sets from the top eight are unevenness—a few too many weak songs mixed in with the otherwise excellent stuff of "Jokerman" and "Sweetheart Like You" (Infidels), "Political World" and "Man In The Long Black Coat" (Oh Mercy), and "Thunder On The Mountain" and "Ain't Talkin'" (Modern Times).

Together Through Life, like the seven other sets in the finest list, has a continuity of mood and sound, and not one song that makes the listener think about hitting the skip button. It sounds, in fact, like a well put together live set by an often hard-rocking, guitar driven band that's having a helluva good time. Much of the sound is similar to that of "Cold Irons Bound," from Time Out Of Mind or "Cry Awhile" from Love and Theft, sweetened throughout by accordionist David Hidalgo (of Los Lobos). Dylan's voice is ravaged, a bearish grumble. Who would have predicted, back in 1965, when "Like A Rolling Stone" hit the radio, that the nasal, reedy pipes would deepen into a Charlie Patton/Howlin' Wolf growl.

The disc opens with "Beyond Here Lies Nothing," its hard metal guitar slashing in front of Hidalgo's counterpoint-cool accordion washes—it's a temporal love song, with Dylan's subterranean voice rumbling up from his gut. "Life Is Hard" is another lost-love song, a lilting acoustic ballad with Dylan sounding weary and dispirited about living without the object of his affection.

"My Wife's Home Town" (which happens to be Hell) is tagged with co-writing credits to Willie Dixon, the bassist/tunesmith who penned so many of the hits for bluesmen Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters back in Chess Records' 1950s heyday. It does indeed sound like something Waters would have recorded at Chess, with Hidalgo's accordion sitting in for Little Walter's harmonica inside the insistent blues rhythm.

"If You Ever Go To Houston" swings with a bright buoyancy, and is perhaps the prettiest tune of the set, an old man's raspy advice to a young traveler. "Forgetful Heart" is full of dark doom, guitars crunching like muted machinery. "Jolene," a bluesy highlight in the mode of "Thunder On The Mountain" or "Summer Days" (Love and Theft), is a joyful, crank-up-the-volume, Howlin' Wolf knock-off, replete with Hubert Sumlin-like guitar riffs.

"This Dream Of You" takes the sound down south of the border, in the mode of "Romance in Durango" (Desire, Columbia Records, 1976), with an accordion warble, a song that wouldn't sound out of place in the hands of an Ensenada sidewalk mariachi band. "Shake Shake Shake" nods, again, to Howlin' Wolf, a drumbeat and crunchy guitar laden wall shaker. "I Feel a Change Comin' On" features Dylan sounding as relaxed and optimistic, as in love with life, as he did on "The Man In Me" (from New Morning).

The records closes with "It's All Good," steeped in a typically biting Dylan sarcasm. He recites a litany of societal woes—in a mode rhythmically reminiscent of "Political World" (from Oh Mercy)—punctuated by the proclamation, "It's All Good," and finishing up with a knowing cackle.

With Together Through Life, Bob Dylan, whose recording career began in 1962, proves he is still a vital artist, capable of producing a work that stands with his best.


Tracks: Beyond Here Lies Nothing; Life Is Hard; My Wife's Home Town; If You Ever Go To Houston; Forgetful Heart; Jolene; This Dream Of You; Shake Shake Shake; I Feel A Change Comin' On; It's All Good.

Personnel: Bob Dylan: guitar, keyboards, vocals; Mike Campbell: guitar, mandolin; David Hidalgo: accordion, guitar; Donny Heron: steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, trumpet; Tony Garnier: bass; George Recile: drums.


Title: Bob Dylan: Together Through Life | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Columbia Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 Extended Analysis Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Love, Gloom, Cash, Love Extended Analysis Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight" Extended Analysis Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial" Extended Analysis Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "The Doors' 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" Extended Analysis The Doors' 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon" Extended Analysis Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon
by Doug Collette
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band" Extended Analysis Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 3, 2017