Sunday, January 18, 2015

Beyond Here Lies Nothin'

Stay with your old man.
Let's consider our future
And forget the past.

"Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" opens the album "Together Through Life" from 2009, which I suppose is a joke because there's plenty that lies beyond this song, and all of it is good. "Together Through Life" is a variation on the snaky blues-song readymades that Bob Dylan has been assembling from other songs perhaps as much as writing since 1997. While "Time Out of Mind," "Love and Theft," "Modern Times," "Together Through Life" and "Tempest" all have their own differences in sound and production, they feel almost like pastiches from the great American blues, folk and country-and-western songbooks. That's fine with me because it couches the starry sky of Dylan's meanderings in easy-to-understand chords and melodies rather than challenging the listener to take heed of musical innovations at the same time as the poetry. "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" is also of a piece with many of these songs: Dylan's an old man, he's singing songs of love to a woman, whether she's the same one who has so often abandoned him or whether she's someone new. Either way, he's old, mistrustful, bitter and reminiscing, while at the same time new vistas for life open up. Whether she's with him or without him in this song, is up to the listener to guess.

The video for this song is unaccountably violent and not suitable for work vieweing, and it didn't sit well with me at all. It's a short film of mutual domestic abuse in which the woman, who has been tied to a bed by the man, frees herself. They go at one another with punches, frying pans knives and a big car, and if there's a metaphor here about the passion of relationships among people who really really really love each other, then it's diminished by the graphic violence in the scenes. Having said that, I've heard people say more violent things to each other than what these two do.




You might prefer this live performance from Tucson, Arizona.



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