Bob Dylan had been drifting for quite a while by the time 1997’s Time Out of Mind was released. Some of his output over the previous two decades had been plain embarrassing. A rare highlight was 1989’s Oh Mercy. Dylan decided to reunite with Daniel Lanois, who produced that album, for a record that managed to signal his artistic rebirth while also making him sound like he was well on his way to the grave. “Not Dark Yet” was Time Out of Mind‘s first single, and it’s the moody album’s center. A world-weary and resigned-sounding Dylan sings of shadows and burdens, hardened souls and unhealed scars. The closest thing to a chorus is the line, repeated at the end of every stanza, “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.” It’s a moving end-of-life song written and sung by an aging artist who has somehow managed to remain vital. It’s certainly not turning dark yet for Dylan as he enters his eighth decade.
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