Soon, Bob Dylan will release his 35th studio album, Tempest. Rolling Stone has called it a “dark masterpiece”. The centerpiece of the album is its 14 minute title track dealing with the sinking of the Titanic.
Dylan’s typically offhand response to those who’ve found significance in the fact that “The Tempest” was the title of Shakespeare’s final play was simple: “The name of my record is just plain ‘Tempest.’ It’s two different titles.”
Though Dylan has never lacked for creative energy, stuff since 1997’s “Time Out of Mind”, he seems to have entered a new creatively fertile period that, from all accounts thus far, continues with “Tempest”.
The name of the album is a reminder that weather conditions (often violent) have featured prominently in his lyrics and song titles, even from his earliest work.
Consider the following:
“Blowin’ in the Wind”
“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” (Subterranean Homesick Blues)
“Buckets of Rain”
“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”
“A messenger sent me in a tropical storm” (Sara)
“You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing.” (Jokerman)
“Shelter from the Storm”
“When the Night Comes Falling From the Sky”
“Thunder on the Mountain”
“I ran into the fortune-teller who said beware of lightning that might strike.” (Idiot Wind)
“A change in the weather is known to be extreme.” (You’re a Big Girl Now)
“Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood)”
And this is by no means a comprehensive list.
Of course with any songwriter who’s released around 500 original songs and whose career spans over five decades, there are bound to be a number of references to a topic as ubiquitous as the weather, but just as the authors of ancient myths, Bob Dylan often seems to find inspiration in the heavens.
In keeping with the somber mood of the album, “Tempest” will be released on Sept. 11th.