Song of the Day #4,326: ‘I Contain Multitudes’ – Bob Dylan

It’s never clear what exactly motivates Bob Dylan, so maybe it was coronavirus or maybe it wasn’t, but the 78-year-old legend has released two new tracks over the past month and a half, his first new original material since his 2012 album Tempest.

The first track, released in late March, was titled ‘Murder Most Foul.’ At just under 17 minutes, it is the longest track Dylan has ever released, and the first about the John Kennedy assassination, a subject that has always fascinated him. It’s extremely spare musically, a spoken-word poem set to a somber piano and strings backdrop.

I’ve spared my gentle listeners having to sit through a song that’s almost as long as an episode of your favorite sitcom. It’s a nice track, but the length borders on absurdity.

‘I Contain Multitudes,’ the newer track, is a bit more traditional. At 4 1/2 minutes, it’s a little bit of a thing compared to its predecessor.

Dylan sounds better here at 78 than he has in decades. I’m sure that has a lot to do with the fact that he is talking more than singing, but it works.

Taking its title from Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself,’ the track name-drops a host of icons, including William Blake, Anne Frank, Indiana Jones and The Rolling Stones.

It’s uncertain whether these two tracks signal an upcoming album release by Dylan, but given that his last three records contained covers of the classic American songbook, it would be appropriate for him to put out at least one more album of original material.

[Note: This post was written several days in advance, so it doesn’t include the news (helpfully supplied by commenter Erik below) that Dylan yesterday announced the June release of a new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, due out in June.]

Today, and tomorrow, and yesterday, too
The flowers are dyin’ like all things do
Follow me close, I’m going to Bally-na-Lee
I’ll lose my mind if you don’t come with me
I fuss with my hair, and I fight blood feuds
I contain multitudes

Got a tell-tale heart like Mr. Poe
Got skeletons in the walls of people you know
I’ll drink to the truth and the things we said
I’ll drink to the man that shares your bed
I paint landscapes, and I paint nudes
I contain multitudes

A red Cadillac and a black mustache
Rings on my fingers that sparkle and flash
Tell me, what’s next? What shall we do?
Half my soul, baby, belongs to you
I rollick and I frolic with all the young dudes
I contain multitudes

I’m just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones
And them British bad boys, The Rolling Stones
I go right to the edge, I go right to the end
I go right where all things lost are made good again
I sing the songs of experience like William Blake
I have no apologies to make
Everything’s flowing all at the same time
I live on a boulevard of crime
I drive fast cars, and I eat fast foods
I contain multitudes

Pink pedal-pushers, red blue jeans
All the pretty maids, and all the old queens
All the old queens from all my past lives
I carry four pistols and two large knives
I’m a man of contradictions, I’m a man of many moods
I contain multitudes

You greedy old wolf, I’ll show you my heart
But not all of it, only the hateful part
I’ll sell you down the river, I’ll put a price on your head
What more can I tell you? I sleep with life and death in the same bed
Get lost, madame, get up off my knee
Keep your mouth away from me
I’ll keep the path open, the path in my mind
I’ll see to it that there’s no love left behind
I’ll play Beethoven’s sonatas, and Chopin’s preludes
I contain multitudes

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,326: ‘I Contain Multitudes’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Erik says:

    You must have posted this a bit too early. He has a new album coming out in June!!!! He posted a new song, too “False Prophet”. This information was posted to his social media on May 7, 2020, around 9:30 PM
    PDT.

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    I tried to get through “Murder Most Foul,” but I gave up after about seven minutes. I’m sure for the most ardent Dylan fan, more is better, but not for me. Today’s offering is certainly more right sized and pleasant enough, but nothing I would want to hear more than once,

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