Song of the Day #763: ‘I Feel A Change Comin’ On’ – Bob Dylan

Many of Bob Dylan’s albums are noteworthy for the atmosphere they evoke. The Basement Tapes sounds like it truly was recorded by a group huddled together in a basement (which it was, in part, but that’s not really important). Oh Mercy evokes the gothic New Orleans streets outside the studio. Blonde On Blonde has always sounded to me like the music of a shanty fishing town.

Together Through Life is one of the best examples of Dylan’s work creating an atmosphere. In this case, it’s the sound of a dive bar on the U.S.-Mexico border. The instrumentation (particularly David Hidalgo’s accordion), Dylan’s hard-luck vocals and the songs themselves all paint that place vividly in my mind.

I love how wizened, and wise, Dylan has become over the years. He’s been a legend practically since he began recording but now he looks and sounds like a legend — like an ancient gunslinger who’s left behind a trail of men he’s slain and women he’s loved. The kind of character who isn’t the good guy or the bad guy in a movie but a rich combination of the two.

Together Through Life isn’t Dylan’s best album… it’d probably struggle to hit the top 15. But even its modest ambitions are infused with the knowledge and passion of a true master who has transcended popular music.

Well I’m looking the world over
Looking far off into the East
And I see my baby coming
She’s walking with the village priest
I feel a change coming on
And the last part of the day is already gone

We got so much in common
We strive for the same old ends
And I just can’t wait
Wait for us to become friends
I feel a change coming on
And the fourth part of the day is already gone

Life is for love
And they say that love is blind
If you want to live easy
Baby pack your clothes with mine
I feel a change coming on
And the fourth part of the day is already gone

Well now what’s the use in dreamin’
You got better things to do
Dreams never did work for me anyway
Even when they did come true

You are as whorish as ever
Baby you could start a fire
I must be losing my mind
You’re the object of my desire
I feel a change coming on
And the fourth part of the day is already gone

I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver
And I’m reading James Joyce
Some people they tell me
I got the blood of the land in my voice

Everybody got all the money
Everybody got all the beautiful clothes
Everybody got all the flowers
I don’t have one single rose
I feel a change coming on
And the fourth part of the day is already gone

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #763: ‘I Feel A Change Comin’ On’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Amy says:

    Why a gunslinger? I never imagined Dylan as the violent type.

    I do agree, however, that certain people have the look of a legend. Dylan, in the past couple of decades, probably, has that look. As these weekends have passed, month after month, I’ve been amazed by just how many songs this man has created. He is a musical Picasso, far more prolific than his contemporaries. It’s intriguing how that productivity tends to make an artist’s individual work less valuable. If an artist only creates five albums in a career (or paintings or novels), each is regarded with respect and awe. Look at Harper Lee, for crying out loud! One book in her entire career, but what a book it is.

    I like this song, and if it had appeared on one of five albums Dylan had made, I might have actually heard it before. Instead, it gets lost on his ??? – what number was this? – album. Other than Dylan diehards, how many people have ever heard the songs on this album? I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I just find it interesting.

  2. Clay says:

    I looked up the sales data and the album did better than I expected. More than 300,000 copies in the U.S. and chart-topping debuts around the world. Certainly none of these songs will ever have the profile of his biggest hits, but it seems they’ve been heard by a whole lot of people by today’s standards.

    I think the difference these days is that “albums sold” probably captures the whole audience of this album, while songs by contemporary artists who haven’t sold 300,000 albums have been heard hundreds of thousands of times via YouTube, iTunes and all the rest.

  3. kevin cramsey says:

    I believe this is the best song on the album, but there are two or three really rough spots where the vocals are concerned, and though I wouldn’t normally be too crticial of this — especially at this juncture of his career — the fact that they occur in such a melodic, tuneful song, really makes them stand out and, unfortunately, reduce the overall impact of the song. If only he had re-recorded a few lines where his voice really croaks.

  4. Dana says:

    I’m thinking that Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman need to have a “croak-off.” May the best croakster win!

    Good song, but get this poor legend some honeyed tea and a throat lozenge!

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