Bob Dylan Countdown #190: “Born In Time”Posted: January 28, 2012
It was the recording on Tell-Tale Signs that helped me to find this song again. I suspect that many fans can relate to the fact that Under The Red Sky had been collecting a bit of dust in my CD collection, especially compared to some other Dylan warhorses on constant play. What surprised me was that, when I did go back to the original version, it sounded better than I expected it to be. It certainly stands out on Red Sky, an otherwise pedestrian, for Dylan at least, collection of songs.
One of the things that I do love about Red Sky though is the crazy, Celebrity Apprentice-style roster of artists guesting on these songs. On “Born In Time”, you’ve got the Dawg himself, Randy Jackson, on bass, Bruce Hornsby tickling the ivories, and David Crosby singing back-up. That sounds like a dinner party one might have in a fever dream, but this ad hoc group does well enough on this delicate number.
What lends “Born In Time” an air of poignancy is the sense that these two people have just missed each other, their chance for true happiness having slipped away despite their best intentions, the world getting in their way. The song is just a tad erratic, with some great Dylan expressions (“record breaking heat”) sharing the same air space with some clunky metaphors (“the foggy web of destiny.”)
Still, I’m a sucker for the understated elegance of the song, and the spectre of a happy ending arriving at its end is a nice touch. This is a sneaky little gem. I’m glad that I was reintroduced to it.