“On this album, I took a few steps backward, but I also took a bunch of steps forward because I had a lot of time to concentrate on it. I also had the band sounding like I want it to sound. It’s got that organ sound from ‘Blonde on Blonde’ again. That’s something that has been missing.”
~Bob Dylan (to Robert Hilburn – May 1978)
Jonathan Cott interview – Sept. 1978:
Jonathan Cott: What do you think of all the criticisms of Street Legal?
Bob Dylan: I read some of them. In fact, I didn’t understand them. I don’t think these people have had the experiences I’ve had to write those songs. The reviews didn’t strike me as being particularly interesting one way or another, or as compelling to my particular scene. I don’t know who these people are. They don’t travel in the same crowd, anyway. So it would be like me criticizing Pancho Villa.
First of all… “Street-Legal” is a fantastic album. I have never “understood” all the criticism it got.. and still gets, and I even dig the original overall sound & production.
The first & second recording session (April 25 & 26) did not produce much (probably only a master of “We Better Talk This Over”), but on this sessions we (probably) got 4 masters: No Time To Think, Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat), True Love Tends To Forget & Changing Of The Guards.
This truly central album is Street Legal (1978). It brings it all together: Dylan the consistent moralist, Dylan the writer who draws heavily on the Bible, Dylan caught in the struggle between the flesh and the spirit, Dylan ending his key relationship, Dylan the betrayed victim both of what he sees as love in vain and of all of us. Consummately, Dylan pulls all these strands together on this album, both on its minor songs and its three outstanding major works, ‘Changing of the Guards’, ‘No Time to Think’ and ‘Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)’
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
Santa Monica, California
27 April 1978
- No Time To Think
What’s fascinating about ‘No Time To Think’ is that it actually works better as a poem on the page than it does as a performance.
~Paul Williams (BD – Performing Artist 74-86)
‘No Time to Think’ has Dylan still on the merry-go-round: the noisy, mechanical going-nowhere of ‘real life’. The hypnotic yet ridiculous waltz rhythm underlines this, as do the incandescent
jingle jangles of internal rhyme. Here we have the singer back on the edge, knowing he must make the leap, resist old love and old earthly niggling, yet with the disputatious voices of love and money, public and pleasure, politics and philosophy, all trying for his attention, leaving him no time to think.
~Michael Gray (BD Encyclopedia)
- Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)
I’m very fond of this song, I can listen to it a lot, it gives me much pleasure… and it frustrates me, because I have to swallow it’s phoniness with it’s honesty.
~Paul Williams (BD Performing artist 74-86)
….the album’s final song, ‘Where Are You Tonight?’ The singer has asked his lover to make the pilgrimage alongside him; she has declined; he has gone on alone. As the song opens, he is on the slow train: ‘There’s a long-distance train rolling through the rain / Tears on the letter I write / There’s a woman I long to touch and I’m missing her so much / But she’s drifting like a satellite’.
~Michael Gray (BD Encyclopedia)
- True Love Tends To Forget
“You’re right. Let’s say with a song like True Love Tends to Forget…” [He lit a cigarette] “The mood I was in on that song is I mean, that means a lot, if you think about it, y’know. True love tends to forget it isn’t like a possession trip, when you’ve been wronged, that type of thing – I was trying to get the most out of that. I thought that was my best album.”
~Bob Dylan (to Lynne Allen – Dec 1978)
- Changing Of The Guards
Changing Of The Guards is a thousand years old. Woody Guthrie said he just picked songs out of the air. That means that they were already there and that he was tuned into them. Changing Of The Guards might be a song that might have been there for thousands of years, sailing around in the mist, and one day I just tuned into it. Just like Tupelo Honey was floating around and Van Morrison came by.
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott – Sept 1978)
- Bob Dylan (guitar & vocal)
- Billy Cross (guitar)
- Steven Soles (guitar)
- Jerry Scheff (bass)
- Ian Wallace (drums)
- Helena Springs, Jo Ann Harris, Carolyn Dennis (background vocals).
Related articles here @ JV:
- Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions – Part One – by Michael Krogsgaard
- Still On The Road – Olof Björner