Dylan’s Late-Career Classics: Not Dark Yet

In revious posts, we have discussed some of the classics song written by Bob Dylan late in his career. Recently, two of our favorite artists covered one such classic song when sisters Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne recorded Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet.”

“Not Dark Yet” first appeared on Dylan’s Time Out of Mind album in 1997, and it later appeared on the soundtrack for Wonder Boys (2000) (which featured another Dylan gem, “Things Have Changed”). On an album with themes of aging and death, “Not Dark Yet” stands out as a great song tackling those issues.

Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear;
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

The song did not make the top 5 songs about death discussed in the movie High Fidelity (2000). But an alternate scene filmed for the movie did have John Cusack’s character Rob adding Dylan’s song to the list created by Jack Black’s character.

Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne have chosen “Not Dark Yet” as the title track of their first album together. The CD features mostly covers, and “Not Dark Yet” does a great job of displaying the harmonies of the two sisters.

Their harmonies combined with an organ create a foundation for the song in gospel, a bit unlike Dylan’s more bluesy version. As NPR notes, the Moorer-Lynne collaboration give the song a “more searching sound.”

You can love both versions, and I do. Check out “Not Dark Yet” recorded by Moorer and Lynne.

The album Not Dark Yet hits stores and the Internet on August 18.

Check out our other posts on Dylan’s late-career classics. What is your favorite of Dylan’s late-career classics? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Shelby Lynne Sings “Down Here” For Kids Facing Discrimination
  • Dylan’s Late-Career Classics: Mississippi
  • Dylan’s Late Career Classics: Make You Feel My Love
  • YouTube Covers: Bob Dylan’s “Red River Shore” Edition
  • October 1992: They Were So Much Older Then
  • Bob Dylan Croons “I Could Have Told You”
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

    Shelby Lynne Sings “Down Here” For Kids Facing Discrimination

    I have long been a fan of the work of singer-songwriter Shelby Lynne (as well as that of her sister Allison Moorer).  So, today’s song of the day is Lynne’s “Down Here” from Lynne’s latest album, I Can’t Imagine (2015). In the bluesy song, Lynne channels her childhood growing up in Alabama where she felt a bit different.

    In “Down Here,” the singer recounts how in her “dark Dixie closet” it is difficult to live with a secret that others might not accept.  The song implicitly tackles subjects like discrimination and homophobia. Lynne explained to Rolling Stone that the goal of the song is to reach out to kids who may be facing such discrimination, telling them that they are not alone.

    In the video below, Lynne performs “Down Here” from I Can’t Imagine live on KCRW. Check it out.

    What do you think of “Down Here”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Dylan’s Late-Career Classics: Not Dark Yet
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  • Steve Earle “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now”
  • Allison Moorer: “Like It Used to Be”
  • Willie Nelson and Engelbert Humperdinck: “Make You Feel My Love”
  • It’s “Rock & Roll Time” When Jerry Lee Lewis Releases New Music
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    Steve Earle “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now”

    Steve Earle’s newest song is “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now” from his upcoming album Terraplane (2015). The country blues of “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now” reveals that Earle is going in a blues direction with his backing band the Dukes on the new album.

    A few months ago, Earle explained to Rolling Stone that “there’s a lot of sad stuff” on the album because he had recently been going through a divorce from singer-songwriter Allison Moorer. Thus, he notes, “It was a good time to make a blues record.”

    In case you are wondering what is a “Terraplane,” the title of the blues album is a nod to blues man Robert Johnson’s song, “Terraplane Blues.” In Johnson’s song, he used the car model Terraplane (a model artistically rendered on the cover of Steve Earle’s album above) as a metaphor for sex. As for Earle’s new song, you may listen to “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now” below.

    Terraplane, which features 11 songs all written by Earle, will be available on Tuesday, February 17, 2015. Allison Moorer will be releasing her own new album, Down to Believing, one month later on March 17.

    What do you think of “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Steve Earle Sings the Blues at KEXP
  • Loss, God, and Allison Moorer’s “The Duel”
  • Steve Earle’s “The Low Highway” Coming Soon
  • Me and the Eagle: Live Feed of Bald Eagle Nest
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers Song That Includes a Tribute to Bobby Kennedy
  • Emmylou Harris Covers Steve Earle’s “The Pilgrim”
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    Allison Moorer: “Like It Used to Be”

    I have been a big fan of Allison Moorer‘s music since her 1998 album Alabama Song, which featured “A Soft Place to Fall,” which had appeared in the movie The Horse Whisperer. Her albums such as The Duel (2004) and The Hardest Part (2000) are among my favorite albums of all time. So, I am looking forward to her upcoming release, Down to Believing, her eighth studio CD.

    One of the powerful songs on the upcoming album full of personal music is “Like It Used to Be.” Listen to it below.

    Rolling Stone notes that the upcoming album is a “stunning and revelatory collection about family and relationships,” inspired in part by the dissolution of Moorer’s marriage to Steve Earle and by the autism diagnosis of her son. Down to Believing, which was recorded in Nashville, will be released March 17, 2015.

    Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Dylan’s Late-Career Classics: Not Dark Yet
  • Shelby Lynne Sings “Down Here” For Kids Facing Discrimination
  • Steve Earle “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now”
  • Loss, God, and Allison Moorer’s “The Duel”
  • Steve Earle’s “The Low Highway” Coming Soon
  • Me and the Eagle: Live Feed of Bald Eagle Nest
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

    Loss, God, and Allison Moorer’s “The Duel”

    The New York Times reported on a 51-year-old man who died in the custody of the New York Police Department in January 2014 from apparently hanging himself with the cord from his coat. One may easily imagine the despair one might feel being held in a jail cell.  But without a suicide note one can only speculate what led to Edward Soto’s death. Still, the article gave some clues.

    Police arrested Soto, who had a couple of previous arrests, for attempted burglary. But family members explained that Soto, who was living with his sister, had been acting erratic since his wife had died in March 2013. Soto and his wife Antoinette had been married seventeen years, and they had seven children. Family members explained that after his wife’s death, Soto talked of hurting himself.  They implied that perhaps his latest actions stemmed from his despair.

    Allison Moorer’s “The Duel”

    It is a tragic story about loss and how difficult it is to recover from losing someone so close, especially a spouse. One of the best songs about this bottomless feeling of sorrow is Allison Moorer‘s “The Duel,” the title track to the singer’s underrated 2004 album.

    Moorer wrote “The Duel,” as well as the rest of the songs on the album, with her then husband, Doyle “Butch” Primm. Within a year of the album’s release, the two would divorce, so it is hard not to hear some of the dissolution of their marriage in the dark edges of the album.

    The album was a surprise to reviewers who liked Moorer’s earlier more country sound. I understand those first impressions, but the album is deep, requiring repeated listenings to mine its jewels.

    When I bought The Duel, I listened to it a few times before putting it away, unimpressed. But many months later, looking for a CD to play in the car, I picked it up again and began listening to it closely, as one does in a car. And I listened again and again, as the CD stayed in my car CD player for months. It was only after hearing the song “The Duel” several times that I eventually really understood what it was about.

    In “The Duel,” the song begins with the singer standing in a cemetery as “a newborn atheist.” Eventually, the listener realizes the song is a conversation with God, and the singer is angry: “Even if you do exist / You’re far from almighty.”

    By the end of the song, the singer explains that she does not know if she can go on. It is only in the song’s final line that we learn why the singer is so angry.

    But one thing I’m sure of,
    The King of Kings has lost his crown;
    It’s buried here in marble town,
    In the god forsaken ground,
    With my only love.

    Few songwriters are brave enough to go to such depths. And it is tragic that anyone like Mr. Soto has to face such unbearable heartbreak. We do not know if he had any conversations with God.  But we can feel great sympathy for a man facing such pain alone in a jail cell.

    As for Moorer, I do not know to what extent she felt the feelings in the song as her marriage came apart, but part of me is happy that she has never come close to this dark masterpiece again.

    What do you think is the most depressing song of all time? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Steve Earle “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now”
  • Steve Earle’s “The Low Highway” Coming Soon
  • Me and the Eagle: Live Feed of Bald Eagle Nest
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers Song That Includes a Tribute to Bobby Kennedy
  • Emmylou Harris Covers Steve Earle’s “The Pilgrim”
  • Dylan’s Late-Career Classics: Not Dark Yet
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)