- 17 Aug 12
The master songwriter's new record is called Tempest – and it includes both a tribute to John Lennon and an epic chantey on the sinking of the Titanic. A world exclusive preview by Anne Margaret Daniel.
Breathtaking, mythmaking, heartbreaking, the songs and ballads of Bob Dylan's Tempest are composed of intricately patterned rhyme and sound. No other songwriter can marry words and music as richly as Dylan can, and the perfect-ten tracks of this record come straight to us from a bard's ear and a poet's pen.
First, the sound. It’s odd for me that the richness of the melodies, and the expertise of the musicians, headed by Dylan and David Hidalgo, are what I think of first. I teach words, and I love them. It’s strange that I can’t remember more couplets; the whole record resounds with rhyming couplets, and internal rhymes and alliteration too. I was dazzled by great, snappy, unexpected rhymes – bitter tragic rhymes – elegant baroque rhymes – and yet can remember comparatively few.
I think that’s because I was concentrating on the tunes, and the way the words fit into the music so well. It’s always a little game I play with myself when I read for the first time a new poem by someone like Seamus Heaney, who has such a great command of ending and internal rhyme: what’s he gonna rhyme with that? Like Heaney, Dylan’s always headed for the unexpected (one blistering example here: God/firing squad), unless it’s a sentimental song (and then you are indeed going to get moon and June and soon, love and above in the rhymes, though with the unexpected in terms of what happens in the song’s story).