Together Through Life is the Bob Dylan album I’ve been waiting for without even realizing it: lean and bluesy with a Tex-Mex kick courtesy of Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo on accordion. While I admired the “career resurgence” trio of albums that began with Time Out of Mind (1997) and continued with Love and Theft (2001) and Modern Times (2006), I must confess these are albums I’ve rarely returned to. I’ve already listened to Together Through Life more times than any Dylan in years. No question I’ve found my soundtrack for the summer of 2009.
Instant classic: “I Feel a Change Comin’ On,” as melodic and open-armed as “Lay Lady Lay.” (There’s some typically Dylanesque confusion about the lyrics: Rolling Stone’s review of the album quotes and scrutinizes a line from the song as “you are as whorish as ever,” claiming that Dylan “growls it like a compliment.” However, an online lyrics site scans the line as “you are as porous as ever.” Porous seems the more likely choice in context, but not definitively. The aforementioned online lyrics site is on shakier ground in rendering another line in the song as, “I see my baby comin’ / and she’s walking with the village beast,” where “beast” is pretty obviously being sung as “priest” on the CD.)