TEMPEST TRACK BY TRACK — LONG AND WASTED YEARS

The arrangement here is a kind of country-flavored lament, the vocal a half-spoken plea, with the insinuating lilt of Dylan’s wonderful, sly vocal on “Brownsville Girl”, from 1986, a song he wrote with Sam Shepard.

The singer seems to be addressing a lost love, wondering if it’s possible to revive the romance. He suggests that he’s not as angry as he once was, because his enemies, whoever they might be, have self-destructed. Maybe he never needed to fight them at all.

A reference to the busted-up couple having once “walked down that long aisle” suggested to Facebook friend William Robertson that Dylan might be addressing this song to his first wife Sara — an intriguing possibility, although he also “walked down the aisle” for a second time with Carolyn Dennis, whom he divorced in 1992.

Who knows? It is, in any case, an autumnal song, but not mournful or bitter. Dylan seems to be wondering what people can salvage from the messes they make of their lives, from their long and wasted years.  He’s more bemused than depressed by the human folly involved.

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