Music: Bob Dylan’s new album Rough and Rowdy Ways contains a universe

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan - Credit: Archant

Bob Dylan contains multitudes. At least that's what he tells us on the first track of his latest record, Rough and Rowdy Ways, his first of original material in eight years. On the record, he stands at a crossroads between love, art, history, and religion.

Dylan on Love: On the fourth track, Dylan gets candidly romantic.

The meditative I've Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You is reminiscent of the songs on his 1975 critically acclaimed break-up album, Blood on the Tracks.

With lines such as 'I'm not what I was, things aren't what they were', it's beautifully arranged yet simplistically honest and introspective to its core. Covering songs from The Great American Songbook has clearly wielded substantial influence over Dylan.

Dylan on Art: Rough and Rowdy Ways has no absence in references of poetry, literature, music, and art.

On Key West (Philosopher Pirate), Dylan references some of the most well-known beat poets: Ginsberg, Corso, and Kerouac, all of whom he has been closely associated with throughout his career.

Of course, the album's opener, I Contain Multitudes, is a homage to Whit Waltman's Song of Myself.

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Dylan on History: Dylan's encyclopaedic knowledge of history is eternally fascinating.

Considerably, the most significant reference comes in the form of his longest-ever track, Murder Most Foul, which clocks in just five seconds short of 17 minutes.

On the track, Dylan discusses the murder of John F. Kennedy while referencing Wolfman Jack, The Beatles, Carl Wilson, a myriad of jazz musicians, and countless others.

Dylan on Religion and Mythology: If you're a Dylan fan, there's no doubt you hold strong opinions on his born-again phase during the late-1970s. Since denouncing these views, he's been judiciously quiet about Christianity.

In defiance of this, on My Own Version of You, Dylan references various religious figures including Jerome, St Peter, and St John the Apostle.

Later on Mother of Muses, Dylan alludes to falling in love with Calliope, one of the nine muses in Greek Mythology, illustrious for her poetry and harmonic voice.