A few days ago, Bob Dylan released a single titled False Prophets. In the last month and a half he’d also released two other singles - A Murder Most Foul and I Contain Multitudes. The release of those two led to a lot of speculation on whether an album was forthcoming. The release of False Prophets confirmed suspicions.
Rough and Rowdy Ways, Dylan’s first new album in eight years consisting of original material will be released on June 19.
Below, I’ll brief you on each one of the songs and then give you what I think the entire album will look like.
False Prophets is heavy on guitars and gives off a bluesy feel. Dylan sticks out his chest and struts around the stage with lyrics like:
“I’m first among equals - second to none
I’m last of the best - you can bury the rest
Bury ’em naked with their silver and gold
Put ’em six feet under and then pray for their souls.”
Over a career that’s spanned decades Dylan’s received a Nobel Prize, Grammy’s, and the title of the best songwriter ever in the pop culture consciousness of America. I suppose he’s earned the right to swagger around. And at the tender age of 78, his voice sounds pretty good while doing so.
Overall, False Prophets is a good song. The equal presence of instruments and Dylan’s voice is a welcome change from A Murder Most Foul which could very easily double as a spoken word poem.
A Murder Most Foul is a seventeen minute epic and the longest song Dylan’s ever released. As I mentioned above, it could definitely double as a spoken word poem.
With a minimal backing arrangement Dylan spins the story of JFK being assassinated in a lyrical way only he could. The song is filled with pop culture references, actual historical events, and details of the assassination. He switches his point of view while singing from a bystander, to J.F.K, to Lee Harvey Oswald, and many others.
The song is dense to say the least. Verse after verse of referential material pours in and Dylan’s voice is the only thing you can focus on due to the sparse instrumental. If it was another songwriter, I likely would’ve never listened to a seventeen minute song. But it’s Bob Dylan, and there’s a certain charm to A Murder Most Foul because of that.
I Contain Multitudes strikes a somber tone as Dylan’s voice drifts over a delicate arrangement. All in all it’s a ballad that contains memorable lyricism.
Here’s the first verse-
“Today, tomorrow, and yesterday, too
The flowers are dyin' like all things do
Follow me close, I'm going to Balian Bali
I'll lose my mind if you don't come with me
I fuss with my hair, and I fight blood feuds
I contain multitudes.”
As you can see, the lyrics are wistful and melancholic. “The flowers are dyin’ like all things do,” is a line that sounds particularly beautiful with Dylan singing it.
There’s definitely a lot to look forward to with Rough and Rowdy Ways coming out in June. With the three songs put out so far, we can expect to see a mix of ballads and groovy bluesy songs on the record. My guess is that it’ll be full of slower ballads. While Dylan can certainly get up and rock n roll, ballads these days seem to suit him.
No matter what, every single song on the album will certainly contain indelible lyrics. Dylan may be getting old, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with.