Song of the Day #1,629: ‘Soon After Midnight’ – Bob Dylan

bob_dylan_tempestTop Songs of 2012 – #8

I’ve gotten used to the high quality of Bob Dylan’s recent albums. Unlike the 80s and 90s, there is no longer a fear in the back of my head that his next release might be a real head-scratcher.

This is probably where some of you will chime in and bring up his recent Christmas album (appropriate given the date), to which I’d reply that I actually enjoy that novelty release quite a bit. I’ll take Dylan’s gravelly ‘Little Drummer Boy‘ over most versions, thank you very much.

At any rate, Dylan’s latest album, Tempest, doesn’t have the expectations game on its side. I expect greatness from a new Dylan album these days.

Tempest mostly delivers just that. Several of its songs are brutal, bloody masterworks, the sort of apocalyptic last man standing sneer-fests that Dylan has perfected over the past decade. These tracks are even darker then usual, preoccupied with violence and death.

Elsewhere, Tempest drags a bit. First single ‘Early Roman Kings,’ following a standard blues structure, is a little too familiar and a little too long. The title track, a retelling of the sinking of the Titanic, complete with an lilting Irish melody, starts off wonderful but goes on for nearly 14 minutes.

Dylan, my man, hire an editor!

It might be coincidence, but my favorite song on this album is also the shortest. Clocking in at just three-and-a-half minutes, ‘Soon After Midnight’ is a graceful, romantic tune right up until Dylan sings about dragging a rival’s corpse through the mud.

Dylan is in splendid voice on this track, a rarity these days that is worth celebrating. And no matter what his voice actually sounds like, there are few singers around with a better delivery.

I’m searching for phrases
To sing your praises
I need to tell someone
It’s soon after midnight
And my day has just begun

A gal named Honey
Took my money
She was passing by
It’s soon after midnight
And the moon is in my eye

My heart is cheerful
It’s never fearful
I’ve been down on the killing floors
I’m in no great hurry
I’m not afraid of your fury
I’ve faced stronger walls than yours

Charlotte’s a harlot
Dresses in scarlet
Mary dresses in green
It’s soon after midnight
And I’ve got a date with the fairy queen

They chirp and they chatter
What does it matter?
They lie and they dine in their blood
Two timing slim
Who’s ever heard of him?
I’ll drag his corpse through the mud

It’s now or never
More than ever
When I met you I didn’t think you’d do
It’s soon after midnight
And I don’t want nobody but you


3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,629: ‘Soon After Midnight’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Dana says:

    By necessity, Dylan now must do more with less– less voice, less breath support, fewer words, stripped down instrumentation. And it’s all good, but I don’t find it compelling in the way his greatest songs and albums were back in the day.

  2. Amy says:

    A song about Titanic? I have to hear that (and share it with my class, as we just finished studying the film πŸ™‚ I like the sound of today’s SOTD a lot, though I’m not sure it would compel me to buy a new Bob Dylan album at this point. Still, great sound, and I love how loyal you are to the man! πŸ™‚

  3. Andrea Katz says:

    I really liked that song and I thought I wouldn’t like anything he did after 1985. Thanks, it was simple and lovely.

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