Bob Dylan would return in 1997 with his first album of all new original material in seven years. Time Out Of Mind would reach the top ten on the national charts and achieve platinum status with over one million units sold. Daniel Lanois was brought back to produce this release and under his guidance it would win the Grammy for best album of the year.
1997 would find an aging Dylan, who was now well over thirty years into his career. He was not the same person as he had been in the early 1960s and his songs would reflect that fact. His compositions were more philosophical as he continued to explore the world around him, but now from the perspective of a mature, and in some ways a world weary, individual. As such, he would continue to redefine and solidify his legacy.
“Tryin’ To Get To Heaven” find him contemplating his spiritual journey as many people do when they reach his age. Dylan is just able to put his thoughts and feelings into words and music. “Not Dark Yet” would find him thinking about death which is another topic that invades the mind as people age.“Make You Feel My Love” is a straight forward and passionate love song. “Standing In The Doorway” is an emotional track that is wistful and shows a longing.
“Highlands” would be the longest track of his career clocking in at over sixteen minutes. It is a novel set to music, and while it does drag at times, it has enough imagery and parables to keep the listeners attention. It is a song of looking back that gradually moves toward acceptance with the words: “And that’s good enough for me now.”
Time Out Of Mind was a comeback album commercially but a repositioning album personally. Dylan had new things to think and talk about and would bring them to life through his words and music. This album of mature subjects and stories would be a superior effort. It really should not be compared to his best work of the 1960s and 1970s as it is far different in vision and scope. It is enough to just appreciate it on its own terms.