Bob Dylan Countdown #179: “Moonlight”

When I was a kid, my Dad was a big fan of  The Platters, the vocal group that cranked out hits like “My Prayer,” “Only You,” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” I always get a sense of deja vu when I hear “Moonlight,” because it has the same lilting tone as those classic hits, in particular that ode to dusk, “Twilight Time.”

Now Dylan’s vocals aren’t quite as silky smooth of Platters lead Tony Williams. But he is pretty deft here with some tongue-twisting lyrics (“The dusky light, the day is losing, orchids, poppies, black-eyed Susan.”) With Larry Campbell’s steel guitar moaning prettily in the background, the entire effect of the song is soothing and serene.

Coming of the death rattle of Time Out Of Mind, Dylan seems to have consciously injected more levity into “Love And Theft.”  A lot of those lighter songs, like “Bye And Bye, “Floater,” and this one, don’t really command attention. They are passive in that respect, unconcerned if the listener simply lets them waft by or chooses to delve a little deeper.

Doing the latter usually reveals some pretty nifty qualities. If you think about them long enough, lines like “The boulevards of cypress trees, the masquerades of birds and bees” will reveal their brilliance. So whether you bask in it or simply let it glance off you as you stroll by, “Moonlight” sparkles.

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