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PostPosted: Sat August 29th, 2009, 23:35 GMT 

Joined: Sat August 16th, 2008, 21:48 GMT
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Location: Connecticut
A favorite of The Mez's of recent years. I know many argue its too long but I disagree. I Love the Bethel Woods 07 You tube of this tune. I think Bob likes it lots, as he seems to play it so often. It's probably like my 3rd fav off MT & I do love Modern Times. Anyone have any great renditions, dates, comments, posts to add? I do Love it, I think Iv'e expressed that fully already!!!! MEZ


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PostPosted: Sun August 30th, 2009, 00:40 GMT 

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Great song...period. :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun August 30th, 2009, 01:56 GMT 
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One of the finest songs about drinking Whiskey that I have ever heard.
Beware the perils of alcohol!


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PostPosted: Sun August 30th, 2009, 04:14 GMT 

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I loved the song when I first heard the album. It was certainly in my top 3 there and I still think the studio version is tops. It was a perfectly strange Modern Bob creation. The first verse alone had me.

Spirit on the Water
Darkness on the face of the deep.
I keep thinkin bout you Baby
I can't hardly sleep.

The first two lines are two of Bob's most vivid pieces of imagery. They illustrate a lonesome calmness; a melancholy solitude. With the second line I picture a ghost floating on the middle of the ocean looking at his reflection and seeing nothing but his former self.
Then our eyes come into focus and the love song begins where the singer is up late, on the road maybe, thinking about his love (or is he actually dreaming?) Instinctively, when I hear this combination of lines I end up placing the singer (and by default, the listener) on an ocean liner traveling across the sea to another port. Though that's never stated, for me it's simply felt. And that simple juxtaposition is pure Bob. A perfect beginning to a perfect Dylan song.
Personally, I've never felt it was too long. Every verse offers something new, funny, poignant, or mysterious that add to the dimension of the relationship in the song. Some verses are like the first two lines, some like the latter, but together they offer many different angles of the star-crossed lovers. One can't forget to mention the quirkiness of the melody which adds a teary, nostalgic resonance to the song. And all of these elements that make the song so hard to pin down is what gives it its character. It's truly the sum of its parts. It's a strange elusive song that sounds as if he wrote it in an hour, but after many listenings it's pretty apparent it's a complex piece.

I couldn't wait to hear it live and when i was lucky enough to see the debut in San Diego it was a real thrill. I loved how the audience answered the "Over The Hill" Past My Prime" lines as if they were questions asked. Whereas on the album, I heard them as facts the singer may be embarrassed by, but desperately wants to prove wrong.

In 2006, it was even better in concert. It was sung in hushed tones, the band barely heard until one of many lovely Denny solos (one need look no further than this song through the years to see where he truly shined as a lead).
When I saw it again in 2007, it lacked all the nuance of the previous year and over the years it's only steadily gotten worse. I felt really bad for those that saw it as an encore this year. It's just a song that needs to be retired for awhile and then brought out occasionally.

But in listening to the song in 2006, it's still exciting to hear the freshness of it. Here's a real corker from Amherst Mass:

November 15 2006
http://www.sendspace.com/file/jlzt1g


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PostPosted: Sun August 30th, 2009, 04:32 GMT 

Joined: Thu December 9th, 2004, 16:38 GMT
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"Spirit on the water, darkness of the face of the deep" is of course a paraphrase of the first chapter of Genesis, but I'm not sure how that relates to the content of rest of the lyric. My guess is that Dylan just found this evocative and it got him going. Any thoughts about whether there's any textual logic behind this evocation of Genesis? (Maybe the point just lies in the po-faced denial of any incongruity in that outrageous juxtaposition: Creation Itself and the singer's desire for the woman, positioned as facts of comparable importance - now THERE'S a declaration!).

SOTW is long, rambling song that probably shouldn't work; it's not even clear that it has any underlying narrative cohesion at all. But work it does. I think part of it's just Bob's wonderfully gentle singing (his discovery of this whispery, gentle voice really serves him well on his later work; that feeling just isn't something he had in his repetoire in the 60s). The tumbling piano part somehow augments poignantly joyful atmosphere too. I think it's really just ear candy, decorated with words.

I like it.

(Incidentally, I saw him perform this in Vancouver earlier this year. He stood centre-stage with just the mic, swaying and snapping his fingers like Tony Bennet, it was a real treat).


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PostPosted: Sun August 30th, 2009, 05:56 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
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Hmm, Vancouver sounds interesting. I've always loved when he did that in 95, it made him focus on his singing only, which this song could use. Perhaps I'll check it out.
Also, I've never heard that Genesis idea. Thickens the gumbo, so to speak.

Also here's that Bethel Hills video which is better than I remembered:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr2JVyMKXQk


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PostPosted: Sun August 30th, 2009, 10:00 GMT 
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A firm favourite of mine from among Dylan's more recent work. Master of misdirection that he is, I think that beneath the jaunty surface of this tune lies a quite profound meditation on memory, transience and the passage of time. Be that as it may, I just like to hear -

Your sweet voice
Calls out from some old familiar shrine
I got no choice
Can't believe these things would ever fade from your mind


And on Modern Times, I find the return of the harmonica for those few brief phrases after the guitar solo in the final moments of the song always brings me a tingle of joy - make of that what you will.


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PostPosted: Sun August 30th, 2009, 11:19 GMT 
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I love this track...

Me and the missus had a lovely little dance to this one in Sheffield back in April...


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 09:01 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
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Location: City of Angels
WOW!!!!!! LOVE THIS!!!

http://youtu.be/c7MGKP8pGiQ

That piano works perfectly:) So sweet!!!

And while we're here, as a special bonus, I'll share my favorite (so wonderfully weird) version from last year:

Milan Italy
June 22 2011
http://www.sendspace.com/file/6qk4u8


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 13:01 GMT 

Joined: Mon January 8th, 2007, 19:59 GMT
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I think the song sounded best in 2007. I heard a beautiful version at the show in Düsseldorf in April that year. The highlight was a wonderful guitar solo. In fact these solos - different every night - used to be an integral part of the song.

At the moment my favourite performance of "Spirit" is from Sterling Heights, 11.7.07. Freeman's lead guitar sounds great and he plays with real feeling. Not only the solo break is outstanding but also the way he accompanies Dylan's singing, listen to the second half of the last verse.

Here is a zip-file with an mp3 of this particular performance and four more versions:
Hamburg 4.4.; Düsseldorf 19.4.; Auckland 11.08. & Bridgeport 30.09.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/tme3g7


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 13:11 GMT 

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Location: Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy.
Love it for:

The jaunty piano riff in Nina Simone style
The brief tantalising harmonica solo at the end

Loathe it for:

Lack of lyrical cohesiveness
Sheer length
The awful " you think I'm over the hill" line which gets a cheer in concert and now seems to be causing Bob to use more such lines on Tempest.


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 15:28 GMT 

Joined: Thu December 9th, 2004, 16:38 GMT
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Location: Canadee-i-o
Jonnie Falafel wrote:
Love it for:

The jaunty piano riff in Nina Simone style
The brief tantalising harmonica solo at the end

Loathe it for:

Lack of lyrical cohesiveness
Sheer length
The awful " you think I'm over the hill" line which gets a cheer in concert and now seems to be causing Bob to use more such lines on Tempest.


I can see the first two 'loathings,' but how can you not like the 'over the hill' line?

You think I'm over the hill
Think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin' good time!

is one of Bob's most wryly amusing closing verses if you ask me. And surely it's only to be expected that an artist like Bob would fill his work with references to aging as he gets old (unlike those dismal 'rockers' who still pretend they're 20 when they're 70 - right, Paul and Mick?). Is it the line, or the crowd response, that bugs you?


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 16:06 GMT 
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McCartney's album Memory Almost Full is all about aging and death, and he handles the themes with deep feeling and grace.

I think the meandering, random quality of Dylan's lyrics might be heard more as a sign of age than the stoops to self-reference. If it weren't so painful listening to his attempts to sing, Spirit on the Water might be tolerable if you can ignore the string of pop-song banalities and the bathetic masochism.


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PostPosted: Tue August 21st, 2012, 16:08 GMT 
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Lone Pilgrim wrote:

I can see the first two 'loathings,' but how can you not like the 'over the hill' line?

You think I'm over the hill
Think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin' good time!

is one of Bob's most wryly amusing closing verses if you ask me. And surely it's only to be expected that an artist like Bob would fill his work with references to aging as he gets old (unlike those dismal 'rockers' who still pretend they're 20 when they're 70 - right, Paul and Mick?). Is it the line, or the crowd response, that bugs you?


I love that line. It's ironical that he says whoppin' good time which sounds exactly what someone past their prime would say.


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PostPosted: Wed January 9th, 2013, 20:17 GMT 

Joined: Mon October 8th, 2007, 03:13 GMT
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I loved this song when I first heard it and it's still my favorite song off the album. The swing tune was part of the pleasure, of course, but the enigmatic lyrics also keep me hooked.

Those opening lines are from Genesis, being about God before He created the world; and that can't be an accident when a later verse says "From East to West / Ever since the world began." This is not to mention the other religious imagery:

I could live forever
I want to be with you in paradise

The "you" is someone the speaker is really attached to, devoted to helping, and yet repeatedly disappointed by. And then there's that other quirky evocation of Genesis "You do good all day / And then you do wrong all night," which puts us in mind of the day and night of God's acts of creation, what He made each day being declared good.

For me the most natural interpretation is God's love for creation. "This love could tear me in two" takes us from creation to Christianity, the idea being that God's love for the world is what makes God be both Father and Son, in the interests of connecting with the created universe.

I'm not saying this song is "about" God's love for the world, nor even the world's attempt to reciprocate that love. I guess I'd say that Dylan is using the nature and structure of that love in order to illuminate a man's love for a woman. He's been doing this for a long time, for instance in "She Belongs to Me," in which he uses devotional language to show what his love for her is like.


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PostPosted: Wed January 9th, 2013, 20:54 GMT 

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Nice to hear all the love for this song; it is the gentler songs on MT that touch me--I find their hymnal meditations on mortality almost unique in the pantheon of rock music, certainly in terms of Bob's repertoire.


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PostPosted: Wed January 9th, 2013, 21:36 GMT 
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I really love that tune, but it's a tad too long in my opinion.


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PostPosted: Wed January 9th, 2013, 22:01 GMT 
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I like this one, too. One his best vocals on his 21st century albums.


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PostPosted: Mon March 11th, 2013, 22:11 GMT 

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I CAN'T WAIT for the new tour....
I sincerely hope he stays on that piano too!!

This particular song has gotten a new life to it with the piano,
adding nuance and emotion where for years, he simply barked it out trying
to convey the song over his (too loud) organ...

Check this one out, a weird and wonderful version (his piano solo cracks me up....) of one of my favorite
songs from Modern Times:

August 19 2012
Rochester MN
http://www.sendspace.com/file/kxodwx


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PostPosted: Mon March 11th, 2013, 22:34 GMT 
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That was delightful!


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PostPosted: Mon March 11th, 2013, 22:57 GMT 
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It would certainly be one of my Top 4 or 5 from Modern Times, which is an album I enjoy quite a bit.


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PostPosted: Mon March 11th, 2013, 23:52 GMT 

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It's beautiful, probably the best of his 1930's crooner style songs. I'm interested to hear whether or not anyone has tracked down a source for the melody yet. Every other song in this style (Bye and Bye, Floater, When the Deal Goes Down, Beyond the Horizon) has a melody lifted from a song of the period, but nobody has tracked down a source for this one yet. Did Bob actually craft this melody himself? It seems unlikely considering the fact that nearly every other melody has an older source.

Though now that I think about, I don't think anyone has tracked down a source for Life is Hard either, which is another one that I really enjoy. I'm a sucker for jazz ballads though.


Last edited by toilandblood546 on Tue March 12th, 2013, 00:20 GMT, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue March 12th, 2013, 00:16 GMT 
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A charmer.


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PostPosted: Mon March 18th, 2013, 21:01 GMT 

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my toilet song at the show im afraid .


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PostPosted: Mon March 18th, 2013, 21:21 GMT 
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I really love "Spirit on the Water" - beautiful music, so many evocative & wonderful lines in the lyrics. I love the way he sings, "we can have a whompin' good time" on the studio version.

I recently read a book by Seth Rogovoy called Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet that explores the Jewish dimensions of his artistry. Rogovoy makes a compelling argument (for me at least) that the song can be interpreted as being sung by Cain, after killing Abel.

Rogovoy says there are non-canonical Hebrew texts that relate the story of Cain & Abel as being about jealousy over the one brother's WIFE, not his OFFERING. The non-canonical version says that God created twin wives for Adam & Eve's sons (answering the age-old question, "who did Adam & Eve's sons MARRY?") and Cain was jealous that Abel had a better-looking twin-wife. So he killed him.

Hence the reference to the opening lines from Genesis as well as the line "I can't go to Paradise no more, I killed a man back there."

A lot of Rogovoy's interpretation I found to be pained & reaching...but this one made sense to me & added extra dimensions of meaning to the song for me.


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