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.

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    Brian Wilson’s Life in “Love & Mercy” (Short Review)

    In the new movie Love & Mercy (2015), director Bill Pohlad takes the unusual approach to use two different actors to convey the complexity of the genius of Beach Boys singer-songwriter Brian Wilson. And surprisingly, it works very well.

    Of course, the technique can only work if the actors are up to the task, and both Paul Dano and John Cusack give outstanding career performances in Love & Mercy. Dano has always been good of portraying some level of madness, but his portrayal of Wilson is much more subtle than Dano’s over-the-top craziness in There Will Be Blood (2007). It also was surprising how much Dano looks like a young Brian Wilson given the right hair. While John Cusack does not really look like Brian Wilson, his performance is surprising in his portrayal of vulnerability without his usual “I-know-more-than-everyone-else” winking. The supporting cast is also outstanding, including Elizabeth Banks in one of her best performances and the always wonderful Paul Giamatti.

    Love & Mercy features two story arcs intertwined, tracing Wilson’s descent into drugs and mental illness through Dano in one story while also telling the ascent of Wilson’s recovery and escape from the control of Dr. Eugene Landy (Giamatti) through Cusack’s Wilson. Through the stories, we also see Wilson’s torment from an abusive father and an abusive therapist. But his tragedy and triumph are also about the music, and some of the most interesting parts of the film show Wilson in the studio, creating the brilliant Beach Boys album Pet Sounds and struggling to create the follow-up album Smile.

    Conclusion? If you are interested in the history of rock music or in movies about tortured genius, you may find that Love & Mercy is one of the best rock biopics in recent years. If you do not trust me, Rotten Tomatoes has an 88% critics rating and a 96% audience rating for the film.

    Bonus Trivia: The title of the film is taken from the song “Love & Mercy” from Wilson’s 1988 self-titled solo album. If you wait for the credits during the film, you will see and hear Wilson performing the song, whose opening line seem like an in-joke: “I was sitting in a crummy movie. . . .” But I suspect Pohlad chose the song because it is an uplifting message fitting for a movie about redemption. Wilson once said, “‘Love and Mercy’ is probably the most spiritual song I’ve ever written.”

    Since Brian Wilson is still alive, one may wonder how difficult it must be for him to watch a movie about his struggles. If you are interested in what he thinks, in the NPR audio below, Wilson discusses the movie and how some parts are difficult for him to watch. He also talks about his new album No Pier Pressure and his favorite Beach Boy song, which also happens to be my favorite, “God Only Knows.”

    What did you think of Love & Mercy? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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