August 29: Bob Dylan released Modern Times in 2006

bob dylan modern times 2006
The album’s cover photo is Ted Croner’s 1947 photograph Taxi, New York at Night.

“There’s no nostalgia on this record, pining for the past doesn’t interest me.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen Aug 2006)

[the 10 songs] “are in my genealogy, I had no doubts about them. I tend to overwrite stuff, and in the past I probably would have left it all in. On this, I tried my best to edit myself, and let the facts speak. You can easily get a song convoluted. That didn’t happen. Maybe I’ve had records like this before, but I can’t remember when.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen Aug 2006)

.. This music is relaxed; it has nothing to prove. It is music of accumulated knowledge, it knows every move, anticipates every step before you take it. Producing himself for the second time running, Dylan has captured the sound of tradition as an ever-present, a sound he’s been working on since his first album, in 1962. (One reason Modern Times is so good is that Dylan has been making it so long.) These songs stand alongside their sources and are meant to, which is why their sources are so obvious, so direct..
~Joe Levy (rollingstone.com)

#1 Thunder on The Mountain (official video)

I was thinkin’ ’bout Alicia Keys, couldn’t keep from crying
When she was born in Hell’s Kitchen, I was living down the line
I’m wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be
I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee
(from “Thunder on The Mountain”)

[about Alicia Keys]“I liked her a whole lot. People stay in your mind for one reason or another.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen Aug 2006)

From Wikipedia:

Released August 29, 2006
Recorded February 2006
Genre Folk rock, blues, rockabilly,Americana
Length 63:04
Label Columbia
Producer Jack Frost (Bob Dylan pseudonym)

Modern Times is the thirty-second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in August 2006 by Columbia Records. The album was Dylan’s third straight (following Time Out of Mind and Love and Theft) to be met with nearly universal praise from fans and critics. It continued its predecessors’ tendencies toward blues, rockabilly and pre-rock balladry, and was self-produced by Dylan under the pseudonym “Jack Frost”. Along with the acclaim, the album sparked some debate over its uncredited use of choruses and arrangements from older songs, as well as many lyrical lines taken from the work of 19th-century poet Henry Timrod.

bob-dylan-modern-times back

Modern Times became the singer-songwriter’s first #1 album in the U.S. since 1976’s Desire. It was also his first album to debut at the summit of the Billboard 200, selling 191,933 copies in its first week. At age 65, Dylan became the oldest living person at the time to have an album enter the Billboard charts at number one. It also reached #1 in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland, debuted #2 in Germany, Austria and Sweden. It reached #3 in the UK and The Netherlands, respectively, and had sold over 4 million copies worldwide in its first two months of release. As with its two studio predecessors, the album’s packaging features minimal credits and no lyric sheet. In the 2012 version of Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, Modern Times was ranked at number 204.

#8 – Nettie Moore

[Nettie Moore]“troubled me the most, because I wasn’t sure I was getting it right, finally, I could see what the song is about. This is coherent, not just a bunch of random verses. I knew I wanted to record this. I was pretty hyped up on the melodic line.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen Aug 2006)

Spotify:

Dylan digs deep into the pocket of American song past in “Nettie Moore,” a 19th century tune from which he borrowed the title, the partial melody, and first line of its chorus. He also uses words by W.C. Handy and Robert Johnson as he extends the meaning of the tome by adding his own metaphorical images and wry observations. However, even as the song is from antiquity, it’s full of the rest of Modern Times bemusement.
~Thom Jurek (allmusic.com)

#9 – Ain’t Talkin

If Modern Times halted at track 9, the rockin’ ”The Levee’s Gonna Break,” it would have a rounded, redemptive feel — but it doesn’t. Final song ”Ain’t Talkin’,” an almost nine-minute semi-spoken blues, shows that Bob’s still capable of dark epiphanies. The tune coldly describes an evil spirit roaming the earth, seeking revenge. Is it Dylan? The neocons? God? The devil?

Intriguing, immediate, and quietly epic, Modern Times must rank among Dylan’s finest albums. In 1965, he quipped he was just ”a song-and-dance man.” With its wonderful lightness of touch, this shows he’s more so than ever, but still with a delicious bite.
~Pat Gilbert (ew.com)

My fav song on the album – Here is both the album version + followed by the outtake released on “Tell Tale Signs”

Critical reaction:

The response from critics was overwhelmingly positive. The publications Rolling Stone and Uncut both crowned Modern Times with five-out-of-five stars. Rolling Stone critic Joe Levy called the album Dylan’s “third straight masterwork”. Robert Christgau of Blender described it as “startling [and radiating] the observant calm of old masters who have seen enough life to be ready for anything—Yeats, Matisse, Sonny Rollins”. Jody Rosen of the online magazine Slate concurred, calling Modern Times “a better album than Time Out of Mind and even than the majestic Love and Theft, which by my lights makes it Dylan’s finest since Blood on the Tracks“. The album was also credited for original blues and folk rock music which was said to be, “hard to hear these days” by critics.

Alexis Petridis in The Guardian ridiculed the lavish praise heaped on the album and wrote: “It’s hard to hear the music of Modern Times over the inevitable standing ovation and the thuds of middle-aged critics swooning in awe.” While enjoying the record, Petridis said Modern Times was “not one of those infrequent, unequivocally fantastic Dylan albums”. Jim DeRogatis of The Chicago Sun-Times appreciated the lyrical content but found fault in the languid music, writing that “with the exception of the closing track ‘Ain’t Talkin’, one of the spookiest songs he’s ever written, Dylan disappoints with…[his] inexplicable fondness for smarmy ’30s and ’40s balladry”.

Perhaps the sourest review came from Ron Rosenbaum. Writing in the New York Observer, Rosenbaum called Modern Times, “a wildly overhyped disappointment… The new album is possibly the worst since Self Portrait, with songs that rarely rise above the level of Dylan’s low point—and everybody seems afraid to say so.”

Some reviewers who liked the album were critical of its musicianship, such as The Chicago Tribune‘s Greg Kot, and Jon Pareles of The New York Times, who wrote that “onstage Mr. Dylan’s touring band regularly supercharges his songs. But on Modern Times the musicians play as if they’re just feeling their way into the tunes.”

According to Metacritic, a site that tracks prominent critical opinion, Modern Times’ approval rating hovers around 89%, indicating wide acclaim and earning it the honor of 30th most-liked-by-critics album (on Metacritic) of all time.

The album became Dylan’s third successive album to top the Village Voice ‘s ‘Pazz & Jop’ poll. Love and Theft and Time Out of Mind won in 2001 and 1997 respectively. The album was also placed at #1 on Rolling Stone Magazines list of the 50 greatest albums of 2006 and #8 on the same magazines 100 greatest albums of the 2000s list.

bob dylan 2006

 

 Track listing

All songs written and composed by Bob Dylan.

1. “Thunder on the Mountain” 5:55
2. “Spirit on the Water” 7:41
3. “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” 6:02
4. “When the Deal Goes Down” 5:04
5. “Someday Baby” 4:56
6. “Workingman’s Blues #2” 6:07
7. “Beyond The Horizon” 5:36
8. “Nettie Moore” 6:53
9. “The Levee’s Gonna Break” 5:43
10. “Ain’t Talkin'” 8:48

Our 5 fav songs:

  1. Ain’t Talkin’
  2. Workingman’s Blues #2
  3. Nettie Moore
  4. When The Deal Goes Down
  5. Thunder On The Mountain

Personnel

  • Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano
Additional musicians
  • Denny Freeman – guitar
  • Tony Garnier – bass guitar, cello
  • Donnie Herron – steel guitar, violin, viola, mandolin
  • Stu Kimball – guitar
  • George G. Receli – drums, percussion
Technical personnel
  • Greg Calbi – mastering engineering
  • Chris Shaw – engineering

Album on Spotify:

– Hallgeir & Egil

7 thoughts on “August 29: Bob Dylan released Modern Times in 2006”

  1. What surprises me is the remark of Dylan that he did not overwrite here, which exactly seems the problem with the basic blues songs of this album, especially Levee’s Gonna Break and Rollin’ and Tumblin’, two songs I could do without. Still, those two function as a sort of pause and enlivenment. It would have been a much darker and quiter album without them and might have made it less succesful. As it is, I appreciate it for the great ones, that you already mention, and for its general atmosphere, but paired down it could have been greater in my book (just for once we don’t miss outtakes here, though I prefer the Tell Tale version of Someday Baby. Somehow I think Dylan was afraid the record would have this darkness that looms behind a lot of the songs and decided to liven things up. An artistic choice, granted. And the importance of Modern Times stands beyond debate I think, even if it is overrated a bit, Tempest goes a bit deeper and Love and Theft is more revolutionary. Still Ain’t Talkin’is the Desolation Row of this age and Nettie Moore and Working Man’s Blues #2 and Thunder on the Mountain are classics now, more so than any song on Love and Theft except High Water.

  2. Haven’t ever seen a live-version of ” Ain’t talkin’ ” – Any chance to see it included in one of your postings ? Thanks in advance ! 🙂

      1. Ten Years Later ….. Egil, I can report a video-clip on YouTube, ‘live’ on 20.11.2006, New York City Center …. so damn powerful !

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