At 71 years old Bob Dylan sees no sign of slowing down. His 35th(!) studio album is due out on September 11th of this year and to go with the new album he’s hit the road, this time on tour with former Dire Straits frontman and guitarist Mark Knopfler. This is the second time the pair have gone on tour, their first outing being last year. Also, this will be Dylan’s first arena tour in six years, an appropriate time considering the launch of a new album. The two of them have worked together before, first on Dylan’s 1979 album Slow Train Coming his first album expressing his growing personal faith. The album’s material is mainly considered Christian or Gospel music but, it earned him his first hit in three years with the single “Gotta Serve Somebody” which also took home a Grammy in 1980. Their next venture was Dylan’s 1983 album and “return” to secular music Infidels. With Knopfler taking on producing credits the album was received with mixed reviews but was still a good seller and later becoming popular with the release of bootlegs from the albums recording sessions.
Now Dylan is on the verge of releasing a new album titled Tempest. When asked about the content of the album in Rolling Stone, he described it as a record where “anything goes and you just gotta believe it will make sense.” He stated that he originally intended to record an album full of religious songs but says he “just didn’t have enough”. The result is an album full of stories and tales that end with a heartfelt tribute to John Lennon titled “Roll On John”. The title track is a 14-minute portrait of the Titanic disaster. In response to questions about the song Dylan had this to say: “People are going to say, ‘Well it’s not very truthful’. But a songwriter doesn’t care what’s truthful. What he cares about is what should’ve happened, what could’ve happened.” Another standout track titled “Pay In Blood” has Dylan repeating the line “I’ll pay in blood/But not my own”. Surely some of these themes sound dark but somehow Dylan and his touring band (whom he used to record the album with) can bring the perfect setting to his lyrics. And with the addition of Mark Knopfler, whom I’m sure will sit in for a few songs some new life will be added on stage.
The fact remains that Dylan is an active living legend. Has he lost his voice? Yes, of course he has and he probably won’t play many of his classic songs in the way you can hear them on your record player but, he’s still creating exciting new music and not relying on his old catalog as a crutch. And Mark Knopfler’s one hell of a guitar player, expect a great show built for a big atmosphere from two longtime pros. Be sure to check this tour out when the pair stop by the TD Garden on November 18. We’ve got tickets for you right here.
Here’s a taste of his new album with the video for the lead single “Duquesne Whistle”: