This album, and its predecessor Good As I Been To You, fulfilled a recording contract Dylan had signed five years earlier and can reasonably be looked at as a low-effort way of meeting that obligation. But the entirely acoustic recordings feature some wonderful performances. World Gone Wrong even won a Grammy, for Best Traditional Folk Album.
World Gone Wrong was the second consecutive cover album Dylan released in the early 90s and at the time, given his wrecked vocals and seeming disinterest in recording new material, it felt a bit like the end of an era.
World Gone Wrong contains the third song I planned to include in the Dylan-inspired war screenplay I never got around to writing. Good As I Been to You contained ‘Canadee-I-O’ and ‘Arthur McBride,’ about, respectively, a woman who poses as a sailor to make it to the New World and two cousins who get into a violent showdown with a group of military recruiters.
‘Two Soldiers’ would have been the tragedy of the bunch. It details a moment between (you guessed it) two soldiers about to ride into battle. Each promises to do the right thing by the other’s family should he be the sole survivor. Things don’t work out so well.
Bob Dylan followed up his first album of covers, Good As I Been to You, a year later with 1993’s very similar World Gone Wrong. Again, the album featured just Dylan on his guitar and harmonica playing old folk and blue songs.
This might be the first time in Dylan’s career that he repeated himself. Over the previous 30 years, each of his new albums invariably marked a thematic or stylistic change from its predecessor. But World Gone Wrong sounded like it could have been made up of the outtakes of Good As I Been to You. The album received more critical praise than its partner, however, mostly due to its tighter focus.