Bob Dylan Countdown #187: “Can’t Wait”

Dylan really knocks these slow blues out of the park. The slower tempo of this penultimate track on Time Out Of Mind gives him time to wring unexpected nuances out of the lyrics, adding emphasis unpredictably from line to line. It’s an underrated part of his repertoire, one that is often overlooked by those who think of him as just a songwriter.

In actuality, his performances are as much of the songwriting process as anything else. The lyrics on the page for “Can’t Wait” might not seem like much when simply read aloud. When sung by Dylan, they plumb depths of profundity that you’d need sonar to locate.

As for those lyrics, there are a few twists that keep everybody on their toes. Check out the way Bob fires out a grabber of a line like “it’s mighty funny, the end of time has just begun.” Before going too far into that rabbit hole though, he pulls it back with an elemental, powerful follow-up line:  “Oh, honey, after all these years you’re still the one.” Little touches like this transport what could be an otherwise straightforward blues exercise.

Notice the way the recording puts Dylan in the middle of instrumental accompaniment which starts out relatively spare. It’s subtle, but little by little, the instruments start to encroach upon him, squeezing him as the tension ratchets up. Drummers Jim Keltner and Brian Blade really turn the screws.

Still, that indomitable voice persists, spitting out his lines of unbearable longing and unfulfilled desire. It’s a killer performance, one that raises the level of an already impressive song.



2 Comments on “Bob Dylan Countdown #187: “Can’t Wait””

  1. jan says:

    There isn’t a person on earth that could do “It’s Not Dark Yet” like Bob and there never will be.
    One soul, one song, one voice………………one heart. After all these years he’s still the one.

  2. Nick Napier says:

    Even though its obviously unfinished at that point, I kind of like the version that appeared on “Tell Tale Signs” more than the “Time out of Mind” version. In particular, these lines always spoke to me: “Have you ever laid awake at night, your face turned to the wall / drowning in your thoughtlessness and cut off from it all?”

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