Wednesday, April 25, 2007

REVIEW: "Huck's Tune" by Bob Dylan

The new Bob Dylan track "Huck's Tune" was released yesterday on the Lucky You soundtrack. Highly anticipated as being a song worthy of landing Dylan his second Oscar, "Huck's Tune" does not disappoint. In fact, I find it to be one of the finest gems of this period of so-called "creative resurgence." Some argue this period began with 1997's stellar Time Out of Mind, but I'd say it begins more appropriately with either the 2000 Oscar-winning track "Things Have Changed" or the 2001 album "Love and Theft." Time Out of Mind was a great album and undoubtedly worthy of the "comeback" tag critics have attached to it, but a disparity certainly exists between the sound, songwriting, and creative focus of an album like Time Out of Mind with Dylan's subsequent offerings, a disparity that I'd argue eliminates it from inclusion in his current musical period.

These days Dylan wholly embodies the persona of the "song and dance man" (a title he jokingly gave himself in a 1965 press conference but one that, as accurately claimed by many a critic, is now completely appropriate). He brilliantly infuses most every musical genre in existence pre-1960's with lyrics that allude to so many works of literature and music that sorting it all out would take, at the very least, a Dylan scholar with a liberal arts Ph.D., a vast array of musical knowledge, and a lot of free time.

Personally, I am nowhere near that level of scholarly enlightenment. Every so often I pick up on the odd Aeneid allusion here and there, but for the most part, I judge a Dylan song by how it makes me feel. While I recognize the brilliance in the work of his latter years, I rarely come across a song that, quite simply, knocks me on my fucking ass like his earlier ones do.

"Huck's Tune" is such a song. I feel this one and I believe Dylan does too, giving in my opinion one of his finest vocal performances in years. For whatever reason, Dylan consistently delivers when called upon for an original offering for movie soundtracks ("Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "Cross the Green Mountain," "Things Have Changed," and "Tell Ol' Bill" spring to mind). "Huck's Tune," musically grounded in Dylan's current period, lyrically reminiscent of some of his best songs, and, dare I say it, catchy as hell, will surely be added to that list.

I'm not going to offer up any attempts at inquiring into its meaning and throwing lofty aphorisms at you; I've barely spent 24 hours with the song and I don't have enough faith in my analytic abilities concerning music anyways. What I will do is provide you with the lyrics (they're quite easy to discern) and my highest recommendation to listen to "Huck's Tune" ASAP.

Huck's Tune

Well I wandered alone,
through a desert of stone,
and I dreamt of my future wife.
My sword's in my hand,
and I'm next in command,
in this version of Death called Life.
My plate and my cup,
are right straight up,
I took a rose from the hand of a child.
When I kiss your lips,
the honey drips,
I'm gonna have to put you down for a while.

Every day we meet,
on any old street,
and you're in your girlish prime.
The short and the tall,
are coming to the ball,
I go there all the time.
Behind every tree,
there's something to see,
the river is wider than a mile.
I tried you twice,
you can't be nice,
I'm gonna have to put you down for a while.

Here come the nurse,
with money in her purse,
here come the ladies and men.
You push it all in,
and you've no chance to win,
you play 'em on down to the end.
I'm laying in the sand,
getting a sunshine tan,
Moving along, riding in style.
From my toes to my head,
you knock me dead,
I'm gonna have to put you down for a while.

I count the years,
and I shed no tears,
I'm blinded to what might have been.
Nature's voice,
makes my heart rejoice,
play me the wild song of the wind.
I found hopeless love,
in the room above,
when the sun and the weather were riled.
You're as fine as wine,
I ain't handing you no line,
I'm gonna have to put you down for a while.

All the merry little elves,
can go hang themselves,
my faith is as cold as can be.
I'm stacked high to the roof,
and I'm not without proof,
If you don't believe me, come see.
You think I'm blue,
I think so, too,
in my words you'll find no guile.
The game's gotten old,
the deck's gone cold,
and I'm gonna have to put you down for a while.

The game's gotten old,
the deck's gone cold,
and I'm gonna have to put you down for a while.

-Bob Dylan, 2007


Jimmy Biggles said...

I'm not to sure about the movie that this song appears in. Having Drew Barrymore in it brings up red flags of being a chic flick. I will buy the soundtrack just for Dylan's new tune (as always). On you comments of his voice, do a search for the Tell Ol' Bill bootleged sessions! That will BLOW your ass off!
Nice review........

Jonah Rank said...

very nice review! and i love the song! it's fantastic truly!