…Sure, I try to stick to the rules. Sometimes I might shift paradigms within the same song, but then that structure also has its own rules. And I combine them both, see what works and what doesn’t. My range is limited. Some formulas are too complex and I don’t want anything to do with them.
~Bob Dylan (to Bill Flanagan, in 2009)
“Dylan, who turns 68 in May, has never sounded as ravaged, pissed off and lusty”
~David Fricke (rollingstone.com)
Together Through Life is an album that gets its hooks in early and refuses to let go. It’s dark yet comforting, with a big tough sound, booming slightly like a band grooving at a soundcheck in an empty theatre. And at its heart there is a haunting refrain. Because above everything this is a record about love, its absence and its remembrance.
~Danny Eccleston (mojo4music.com)
Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver
And I’m reading James Joyce
Some people they tell me
I got the blood of the land in my voice
~Bob Dylan (I Feel A Change Comin’ On)
April 28, 2009
Folk rock, blues rock, Americana
Jack Frost (Bob Dylan pseudonym)
Together Through Life is the thirty-third studio album by singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in April 2009 by Columbia Records. The album debuted at number one in several countries, including the U.S. and the UK. It is Dylan’s first number one in Britain since New Morning in 1970.
Dylan wrote all but one of the album’s songs with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, with whom he had previously co-written two songs on his 1988 album Down in the Groove. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Dylan commented on the collaboration:
“Hunter is an old buddy, we could probably write a hundred songs together if we thought it was important or the right reasons were there… He’s got a way with words and I do too. We both write a different type of song than what passes today for songwriting.”
The only other writer Dylan has ever collaborated with to such a degree is Jacques Levy, with whom he wrote most of the songs on Desire (1976).
Rumors of the album, reported in Rolling Stone magazine, came as a surprise, with no official press release until March 16, 2009 — less than two months before the album’s release date. Dylan produced the record under his pseudonym of Jack Frost, which he used for his previous two studio albums, “Love and Theft” and Modern Times. The album was rumored to contain “struggling love songs” and have little similarity to Modern Times.
In a conversation with music journalist Bill Flanagan, published on Bob Dylan’s official website, Flanagan suggested a similarity of the new record to the sound of Chess Records and Sun Records, which Dylan acknowledged as an effect of “the way the instruments were played.” He said that the genesis of the record was when French film director Olivier Dahan asked him to supply a song for his new road movie, My Own Love Song, which became “Life is Hard” – indeed, ‘according to Dylan, Dahan was keen to get a whole soundtrack’s worth of songs from the man’ – and “then the record sort of took its own direction.”
Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ live 2011 Tucson, AZ:
Dylan is backed on the album by his regular touring band, plus David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Dylan commented on Campbell’s guitar work in his interview with Flanagan: “He’s good with me. He’s been playing with Tom for so long that he hears everything from a songwriter’s point of view and he can play most any style.”
In the interview with Bill Flanagan, Dylan discusses the only known outtake to “Together Through Life”, “Chicago After Dark”. Apparently, this song was in the running to be on the album but was left off the final version, as Flanagan talks about the song as if it is on the album. The song is not circulating among collectors.
“Bill Flanagan: In that song CHICAGO AFTER DARK, were you thinking about the new President?
Bob: Not really. It’s more about State Street and the wind off Lake Michigan and how sometimes we know people and we are no longer what we used to be to them. I was trying to go with some old time feeling that I had.”
Described at length in a 2009 interview to promote the album Together Through Life, according to Dylan, it’s about “how sometimes we know people and we are no longer what we used to be to them”. In fact, this song never existed.He made it all up. How fitting. ~Clinton Heylin (telegraph.co.uk)
Forgetful Heart, Memphis, 2011:
The album received two Grammy Award nominations in Best Americana Album category and “Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance” category for “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”.
The album also is significant as the only album by Dylan to top the US and UK charts consecutively.
The album’s cover photo is the same as that on the cover of American author Larry Brown’s short story collection, Big Bad Love.
“Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” 3:51
“Life Is Hard” 3:39
“My Wife’s Home Town” (Willie Dixon, Dylan, Hunter) 4:15