Recorded Mar-June 1970 Released Oct 21, 1970
- If Not for You
- Day of the Locusts
- Time Passes Slowly
- Went to See the Gypsy
- If Dogs Run Free
- New Morning
- Sign on the Window
- One More Weekend
- The Man in Me
- Three Angels
- Father of Night
- Tomorrow is a Long Time (several versions)
- Wallflower (released on The Bootleg Series 1-3)
- Spanish is the Loving Tongue
New Morning has been haunting me ever since I bought it. This must be Dylan’s most stylistically varied album ever (possibly topped by ”Love and Theft”), but I still can’t decide whether it belongs in the “weak” category together with Self Portrait, or if it is a glorious testimony to the sprezzatura that only Dylan can handle without collapsing completely.
I’ve had heated discussions with a friend of mine about “The Man in Me” – is it a good song? an exuberant jubilation of the bliss of true love? a rare moment in Dylan’s catalogue of a love song with no hint whatsoever of uncertainty, bitterness, pain? No! it’s just too sweet; things that are too good to be true usually aren’t. It’s like “Sara” or “Wedding Song”, another couple of songs that I just can’t take seriously. What they have, though, is an intrinsic seriousness which commands some kind of respect: only Dylan can say “I love you more than blood” and get away with it.
And what does “The Man in Me” have ?
“La la la la la.” Not quite the same.
In the same category come “If Not for You” (“I’d be sad and blue” or “I wouldn’t have a clue / If not for you” – c’mon Bob, you can rhyme better than that!), and, to some extent, “New Morning” and “Winterlude”. But they aren’t too bad after all: Winterlude has this corny, guy-on-the-sleeve-of-Nashville-Skyline-ish, country dude thing going on, and if such a down-to-earth guy “thinks you’re fine”, what is there to complain about? And “New Morning” has these wonderful snapshots of situations which may be just reminiscenses of random glimpses, but which may also be filled with meaning (“Rabbit runnin’ down across the road / Underneath the bridge where the water flowed through”, “Automobile comin’ into style / Comin’ down the road for a country mile or two”), and they are introduced with a shade of desperation in the insistent questions: “Can’t you hear…?” (“You really can’t hear it? Don’t you remember? But… that was an important moment! I thought we shared it… Don’t you love me anymore?”) Besides, the song is forever redeemed by the treatment it got in 1991 – when someone goes though something like that, you just have to care for them . . .
The three songs that really got to me and made me think of it as a great album after all, were “If Dogs Run Free”, “Three Angels” and “Father of Night”. I’m not positive that the scat singing in “Dogs…” is great, but I know it makes me smile. And the choir on the other two… heavenly! In fact, if Dylan ever wrote a heavenly line of music, it’s the two bars of dirty-winged angels’ song between the verses in “Father of Night”, or the very end of “Three Angels”.