Modern Times

With its speeding NYC taxi cover suggesting life is racing by, Dylan both appropriates (old rollin’ and tumblin’ blues) and invents (surreal road movies meandering across a blighted landscape) to conjure a series of portraits of our sad times. There are no answers; the world is filled with dread and bad-times women. There’s bugs on the vine, the weather is changing, the hard rain that started falling decades ago is still coming down, and the levee’s gonna break. Moody and elegiac throughout, the songs lead up to a beautifully harrowing nine-minute closer that finds the bard not talkin’ but just walkin’—and muttering. The accrual of violin-propelled, guitar-punctuated couplets—in which the gardener has left the garden, and the nooks and crannies are filled with tears—suggest that only darkness lies around the bend.