Bob Dylan Countdown #188: “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”

An ominous, minor-key tango highlighted by the efforts of guitarist Mike Campbell and accordionist David Hidalgo, “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” is an excellent showcase for Bob Dylan’s latest studio band. Even with extended instrumental sections not usually found in a Dylan song, there is no excess flab to be found on the recording. It’s no wonder the song makes an effective soundtrack weapon. (Oh, those pesky vampires!)

In the midst of this fierce musical setting, Bob sings a tale of love at the edge of a metaphorical cliff. The world at their perimeter is menacing and unforgiving, but the singer and his beloved are holding on tight in the shadow of the threats. It’s not the newest story in the book, but it’s well-told nonetheless. I particularly like the lines “I’m movin’ after midnight/Down boulevards of broken cars.” Very evocative.

Since it kicks off Together Through Life, “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” promises a beefy musical onslaught in the album to come. The album doesn’t always deliver on that promise, sometimes faltering on the balance between riffing and ruminating. That balance is struck nicely by the opening track though. It is rare that a backing band can match Dylan’s charisma on the mike, but this crew rises to that challenge and then some.

 

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