Track 7. Not Dark Yet
This lighthearted little ditty is the centerpiece of the atmospheric and hypnotic album Time Out of Mind. At the execution houses in the U.S.A. there is the publicized shout of “dead man walking” when a member of death row is being escorted. You could take out the shout and insert “Not Dark Yet.” A lot of speculation about Time Out of Mind in general focused on a near fatal condition Dylan had but as the timeline played out these songs were recorded before that; but nonetheless Not Dark Yet emphasizes the impending, unavoidable ending of something.
Personally I see Not Dark Yet as a testament to the idea of holding on to something you should let go but simply can’t. The tune has an anthemic military march feel. The vocals are perfect here, a great rebuttal to the ever-present “Dylan can’t sing” argument.
“I was born here and I'll die here against my will
I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don't even hear a murmur of a prayer
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.”
Gulp. Talk about growing and evolving in your art. Dylan has stated that he couldn’t write songs like the ones on Highway 61 Revisited or Bringing it All Back Home again. Well, just as true is that the prodigy Dylan who wrote It’s All Over Now Baby Blue couldn’t have written Not Dark Yet. He could sound like he had been there but he couldn’t write it, no way.
Time Out of Mind is off the board. Slow tear falls for Love Sick, Standing in the Doorway, Cold Irons Bound, Highlands, Trying To Get To Heaven.