Bob Dylan rose reinvigorated and began a new creative renaissance in his career with the dark and dense sonic textures of this murky magnum opus. Dylan considers: "The 'Time Out of Mind' record, that was the beginning of me making records for an audience that I was playing to night after night. They were different people from different walks of life, different environments and ages. There was no reason for these new people to hear songs I'd written thirty years earlier for different purpose. If I was going to continue on, what I needed were new songs, and I had to write them, not necessarily to make records; but to play for the public. The songs on 'Time Out of Mind' weren't meant for somebody to listen to at home. Most of the songs work, whereas before, there might have been better records, but the songs don't work. So i'll stick with what i was doing after 'Time Out of Mind', rather than what I was going in the 70's and 80's, where the songs just don't work...It should connect with people. The thing about it is that there is the old and the new, and you have to connect with them both. The old goes out and the new comes in, but there is no sharp borderline. The old is still happening while the new enters the scene, sometimes unnoticed. The new is overlapping at the same time the old is weakening its hold. It goes on and on like that, forever through the centuries. Sooner or later, before you know it, everything is new, and what happened to the old? It's like a magician trick; but you have to keep connecting with it."
Dylan went back to producer Daniel Lanois, who had helmed his 80's comeback 'Oh Mercy'. Lanois remembers: "Bob had the songs written beforehand, because he comes from that world: he writes the songs ahead of time, and then he brings them into the studio, more or less complete. We put 11 people in the room with him, and that worked out well because in that case there was no mystery about things; Bob was not about to change the chorus or write a new angle for the song – everything was pretty much carved in stone ahead of time. Maybe we would modify a riff or give it a certain musical identity on the day, but we never went into the bedrock and changed it. When you have the luxury of the song being already written ahead of time, the job at hand is to serve the song and to come up with as cool and as soulful a vibe as you can. There’s also an automatic depth of field that you get by having 11 people playing together in a room. Every microphone is open literally to someone 50 feet away, who’s going to sound literally 50 feet away through the vocal mic. As a result, 'Time Out of Mind' is dripping with ambience. It paints such a picture that you can really feel the presence of people in the room, and that’s an exciting sensation. It’s like hearing a great Miles Davis record, where you know that everyone was doing it in the room at the same time."
The sessions at Criteria Recording Studios in Miami, Florida included Dylan on guitar, harmonica, piano, vocals, production; with Bucky Baxter on acoustic guitar, and pedal steel; Brian Blade on drums; Robert Britt on Martin acoustic, and Fender Stratocaster; Cindy Cashdollar on slide guitar; Jim Dickinson on keyboards, Wurlitzer electric piano, and pump organ; Tony Garnier on bass guitar and upright bass; Jim Keltner on drums; David Kemper on drums; Daniel Lanois on guitar, mando-guitar, Firebird, Martin 0018, Gretsch gold top, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, production, and photography; Tony Mangurian on percussion; Augie Meyers on Vox organ combo, Hammond B3 organ, and accordion; Duke Robillard on guitar and electric l5 Gibson; Winston Watson on drums.
Dickinson admits: "I haven't been able to tell what's actually happening. I know they were listening to playbacks, I don't know whether they were trying to mix it or not! Twelve musicians playing live—three sets of drums,... it was unbelievable—two pedal steels, I've never even heard two pedal steels played at the same time before! ... I don't know man, I thought that much was overdoing it, quite frankly. "
Dylan explains: "I lose my inspiration in the studio real easy, and it's very difficult for me to think that I'm going to eclipse anything I've ever done before. I get bored easily, and my mission, which starts out wide, becomes very dim after a few failed takes and this and that...in the past, when my records were made, the producer, or whoever was in charge of my sessions, felt it was just enough to have me sing an original song. There was never enough work put into developing the orchestration, and that always made me feel very disillusioned about recording. 'Time Out of Mind' is more illuminated, rather than just a song and the singing of that song. The arrangements or structures are really an integral part of the whole...We just opened up that door at that particular time, and in the passage of time we’ll go back in and extend that. But I didn’t feel like it was an ending to anything. I thought it was more the beginning...The high priority is technology now. It's not the artist or the art. It's the technology that is coming through. That's what makes 'Time Out of Mind'... it doesn't take itself seriously, but then again, the sound is very significant to that record. If that record was made more haphazardly, it wouldn't have sounded that way. It wouldn't have had the impact that it did.... There wasn't any wasted effort on 'Time Out of Mind' and I don't think there will be on any more of my records.”
'Time Out of Mind' went to thirty-six in Spain, twenty-eight in Finland and the Netherlands, twenty-four in Australia, twenty in Switzerland, fifteen in France, twelve in Austria, eleven in Belgium and New Zealand, ten in the UK and the US, six in Germany, five in Sweden, and number two in Norway. The album won Grammys for Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk Album, and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
"Cold Irons Bound"
"Dirt Road Blues"
"Tryin' to Get to Heaven"
"Not Dark Yet"
'Time Out of Mind'
All songs written by Bob Dylan.
1. "Love Sick" 5:21
2. "Dirt Road Blues" 3:36
3. "Standing in the Doorway" 7:43
4. "Million Miles" 5:52
5. "Tryin' to Get to Heaven" 5:21
6. "'Til I Fell in Love with You" 5:17
7. "Not Dark Yet" 6:29
8. "Cold Irons Bound" 7:15
9. "Make You Feel My Love" 3:32
10. "Can't Wait" 5:47
11. "Highlands" 16:31