Ironically, Dylan chose to release a gentle country album during one of the country’s most tumultuous eras. Whether it was a deliberate retreat from his protest singer roots or just where his muse happened to take him, it was as odd and unexpected as most of Dylan’s career moves.
‘Barcelona’ is a dark, moody song about fear and the desire to escape. The lyrics are informed by Wainwright’s rape at age 14 in a London Park during a time when HIV was at its peak. The line “don’t want my rings to fall off my fingers” refers to the weight loss associated with the disease.
This is a quintessential Neko Case song. It’s atmospheric, haunting and gorgeous, and its lyrics are evocative but largely inscrutable. The online commentary I’ve found seems to agree that the song is about Case’s battle with depression.
Here’s a track from Rihanna’s 2005 debut album, Music of the Sun. With the exception of lead single ‘Pon De Replay,’ this is a largely forgettable album, a weak mix of reggae and dance beats and uninspired performances.
Rihanna stepped up her game a year later with her sophomore release, A Girl Like Me, then really struck gold with 2007’s Good Girl Gone Bad. She is a great example of an artist whose evolution happened in real time, release by release. She dropped seven albums during the first eight years of her recording career, each building on the last musically and thematically.
Perhaps in honor of that new release, the Random iTunes Fairy decided to dip back into Dylan’s previous album, 2017’s Triplicate, a three-disc tour through the Great American Songbook, and Dylan’s third straight album spent covering standards.