As performed by Bob Dylan, written by David Bromberg. This article is written by Sean Dolan.
In the late winter of 1992, Bob Dylan and Neil Young (don’t you just love the image?) together attended a performance by David Bromberg, the exceptional multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and singer, later-to-be luthier and collector of vintage American violins, who had been performing roots music and Americana long before the terms were in common use, at the Bottom Line, the fabled, long-since-shuttered music club (capacity: 400) on West 4th Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Dylan was at a creative impasse at the time; though he’d experienced the various musical epiphanies regarding guitar and singing techniques so vividly described in his memoir Chronicles and was utilizing them to revitalize his stage career (the so-called Neverending Tour was already well in progress), he wasn’t writing, and though he put up a bold front about it, one imagines that this fallow period must still have been some kind of torment, especially for one who’d been able for so long to draw on such a prodigious and seemingly indefatigable gift for writing words and music. (The obvious pride he later took, when he began writing again, in the albums Time Out of Mind and Love and Theft, especially, would seem to support this conjecture.) “The world doesn’t need any more songs,” Dylan said at this period. “They’ve got enough. They’ve got way too many. As a matter of fact, if nobody wrote any songs from this day on, the world ain’t gonna suffer for it. Nobody cares. There’s enough songs for people to listen to if they want to listen to songs . . . unless someone’s gonna come along with a pure heart and have something to say. That’s a different story.”