Certain Songs #106: Bob Dylan – “Not Dark Yet”


Album: Time Out of Mind.

Year: 1997.

By 1997, I think that the last thing even the most fanatical of Dylan fanatics expected was to get a whole album of great songs from the man. Not only had he not put out an album of original material since 1990’s ambivalent Under The Red Sky, most of the 90s proper were spent celebrating his past: The Bootleg Series, The 30th Anniversary Concert, Greatest Hits Volume 3, the acoustic covers albums, MTV Unplugged.  All of these things basically signaled that he was done writing new songs, that he was content to touring endlessly on the strength of what was already the greatest song catalog in popular music.

Thus the miracle of Time Out of Mind, the album that kicked off what has now been a nearly 20-year endgame. Working with Daniel Lanois, Time Out of Mind utilizes the same swampy mixed of atmospherics they utilized on the near-miss Oh Mercy, but this time, he’d written a bunch of great songs, all of which fit the dark and doomy sound Lanios imposed.

And the greatest of those songs was the utterly gorgeous centerpiece “Not Dark Yet.”  A companion piece of sorts to “Most of The Time,” easily the best thing from Oh Mercy, but channeling some of the same despair that fueled his last great album, Blood on the Tracks, “Not Dark Yet” sounds like a fucking suicide note.

I’ve been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain’t looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there


Gorgeously played and sung, with an utterly beautiful melody, “Not Dark Yet” makes me worry about what’s going to happen when it actually gets dark.

Official video for “Not Dark Yet”

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Every “Certain Song” Ever

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