New Morning by Bob Dylan

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New Morning by Bob Dylan
New Morning by Bob Dylan

Album Released: 1970

New Morning ::: Artwork

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1.If Not For You2:42
2.Day Of The Locusts4:00
3.Time Passes Slowly2:35
4.Went To See The Gypsy2:51
5.Winterlude2:22
6.If Dogs Run Free3:40
7.New Morning3:58
8.Sign On The Window3:40
9.One More Weekend3:10
10.The Man In Me3:08
11.Three Angels2:07
12.Father Of Night1:31

Reviews

The entire world must have breathed a sigh of relief when Bob Dylan released New Morning just four months after the release of his controversial double album Self Portrait.

This is - for lack of a better term - a normal record. It consists entirely of original material in which Dylan sings consistently interesting lyrics with his soul-piercing Mr. Wheezebags vocals. He was still coming off his songwriting peak of the mid-60's - evident on this album, since all the songs are well-written and make enjoyable listening. The only glaring thing that sets it apart from everything else in his discography is that most of these songs are piano-based.

It opens with a track that you might recognize from George Harrison's post-Beatles solo debut All Things Must Pass, “If Not For You”. Where Harrison's interpretation was atmospheric and contemplative, Dylan's version is faster-paced and more bubbly. I prefer the Harrison version by a hair because I like how Phil Spector's production added to the atmosphere. But of course both versions have a great melody, and in my world, all songs with melodies that ingrain themselves in my head are automatically deemed 'awesome'. The title track also does that, it's one of my favorite tunes on this disc, and it's also one of the few guitar-based songs here. That could be one of the reasons it tends to have more of an enthusiastic drive than many of the others. However, you can't beat the breeziness that a piano can lend to a waltz, which is what you'll find in “Winterlude”.

This album also has its fair share of piano ballads, and they're all worth listening to. “Time Passes Slowly”, “Went to See the Gypsy”, and “Sign on the Window” are all top-notch songs. Although none of them are my favorite moments on the album - which is interesting, because in my previous reviews, I had a habit of telling people that I generally love piano ballads more than anything. I also have a habit of telling people I'm not much of a fan of blues music, but the only straight R&B song on this album, “One More Weekend”, floats my boat so much that it's hovering above the water. I suppose as the only R&B song here, it lends to the 'diversity' factor.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)


A strange little record. There are no classics here, and you get the feeling Dylan intended it that way. At first listen it's incredibly underwhelming, as the songs feel trivial and slight - and while yes, they are indeed mostly trivial and slight, they are also enjoyable in their laidback, supremely unambitious style.

With the exception of the odd dark chant "Father of Night" that closes this weird record on an even weirder note, Dylan has never sounded warmer or more upbeat, all the songs can be described as emotionally positive. That's pretty offthrowing from a guy whose primary inspiration has always been a lacerating negative energy.

The title track is the most optimistic anthem he's ever written - So happy just to be alive on this new morning with you. Dylan's deliberately downscaling his approach, celebrating the simple pleasures of domesticity and kids who call me pa, as if he were Paul freakin' McCartney raising rams on Junior's farm.

There are a few painful misfires - his sappiest love ballad so far "Winterlude"; his most irritating redneck country honk so far "One More Weekend"; and his crappiest poetry so far "Dogs Run Free". The latter is in the running for the worst Dylan song ever - If dogs run free, then why not me? - wow that's deep, man. And the jazzy backup scat singing only adds rotten maggots to the corpse. And why does "The Man in Me" find Dylan shamelessly imitating Van Morrison, with all those la la la's?

Still, whilst it can hard to adjust to at first, after wrapping your mind around the concept of a relaxed, easy-going, unambitious Dylan - qualities that contradict everything he stood for previously - you'll find that most of these tunes aren't half-bad.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)


New Morning was released only four months after Self Portrait, which was interpreted as Dylan 'admitting' to the shortcomings of Self Portrait by rushing out a new record so soon afterwards.

In fact though, the early sessions for New Morning overlapped with the Self Portrait sessions, and Dylan's voice reverting to its more usual gruff state was attributed to him having a bad cough during recording.

He's not totally out of his 'country' phase just yet - several of these songs have a subtle country feel. The most notable aspect musically though is that Dylan plays piano on seven of the album's twelve tracks.

The opening "If Not for You" was first worked on with George Harrison (Harrison cut his own version of the song as well) ... (and it was a hit single for Olivia Newton-John - Editor) ... it's a fine song, simple and charming with a little Dylan harmonica break.

This record isn't really about Dylan writing masterpieces again, it's a record that sees Dylan feeling his way back into things, but at the same time still trying to move forward.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning


In his last album before a three-year hiatus of near-inactivity, Dylan steps back into the more serious territory of John Wesley Harding.

That's not to say he acts as if Nashville Skyline and Self Portrait never happened: the diverse, lightweight roots/rock sound with a more notable country flavour of those two records is present most of the time here. But it adds that simple musical style to the rambling piano chord sequences and introspective lyricism of John Wesley Harding in a way where this album could be a continuation of any one of those three albums, without feeling like there's a missing link inbetween.

So New Morning could've come out in 1968, in late 1969, or when it actually did, and still feel like a natural progression in Dylan's catalogue. Where it adds to them is that (a) the thoughtfulness of the lyrics is no longer focused on complex allegories, but rather on relatable topics of love, family, home life, religion, and even death, and (b) there are a number of other genres thrown into the mix, like Gospel, country waltz, Jazz, and even Jewish prayer music(!).

In general, those themes are interconnected by a feeling of searching for them, as if Dylan had lost his way and was seeking answers on how to balance those that he desired and how to avoid succumbing to fears of those he did not. That kind of 'lost' vibe is perfectly complemented by the ever-present piano, which more often than not sounds like Dylan strung together some random chords with no logic, yet are made coherent thanks to the melodies.

Of course, the way I describe it might make the album seem very stripped down, which is hardly the case. There's plenty of guitar playing - both electric and acoustic - there's some great drumming at times, there's even plenty of organ, and I swear on a couple of tracks there are brief moments of orchestration (although in the credits the closest to that is Al Kooper contributing French horn). One thing that's somewhat surprising is the near-absence of Dylan's harmonica, which only appears once.

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by Reviewer: Mr X Music Reviews (blogging at When the Music's Over)