Bob Dylan Has Given Us One of His Most Timely Albums Ever With ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’
At 79, he’s still channeling cosmic American mysteries like no one else in music
By Rob Sheffield
Another apocalypse; another side of Bob Dylan. The man really knows how to pick his moments. Dylan has brilliantly timed his new masterwork for a summer when the hard rain is falling all over the nation: a plague, a quarantine, revolutionary action in the streets, cities on fire, phones out of order. Rough and Rowdy Ways is his first batch of new songs in 8 years, and it’s an absolute classic—it has the bleak majesty of latter-day Dylan albums like Modern Times and Tempest, yet it goes beyond them, tapping even deeper into cosmic American mysteries.
You can hear all the rolling thunder in his 79-year-old voice—as he sings in a catch-your-breath moment from “Mother of Muses,” “I’ve already outlived my life by far.” But the man offers no words of comfort—he just spins these outlaw tales with the cold-blooded wit and sardonic passion that keeps him pressing on. As he declares early on the album, “I’ll pick a number between one and two / And ask myself what would Julius Caesar do?”
Songs from Rough And Rowdy Ways*:
*The album won’t be released until the 19th of this month.