Giving songs a title inspired by any of the fifty U.S. states is now becoming sort of a tradition, and each of these songs has a different background or connotation.Last week, Lyndon Bolton wrote about ‘Ohio’, a politically and socially charged CSN&Y song, one that ranks among the band’s signatures. This time around, it is another U.S. state-titled song, Bob Dylan’s ‘Mississippi’.
Whilst Dylan’s sixties releases are for good reasons considered his prime, in retrospect, the Nobel laureate’s output was always great, even during his critically denounced eighties period. Actually, that critical realisation started with his new century albums like ‘Love And Theft’ from 2001, which includes this brilliant song. Dylan wrote ‘Mississippi’ for different reasons than Young and company did their ‘Ohio’. Well into his mature age, Dylan sings and reminisces about things past, and all the life lessons he has learned and seems to have accepted.
“Every step of the way we walk the line Your days are numbered, so are mine Time is piling’ up, we struggle and we scrape We’re all boxed in, nowhere to escape”…“All my powers of expression/And thoughts so sublime/Could never do you justice/Reason or rhyme…But my heart is not weary/It’s light and free/I’ve got nothing but affection for those who have sailed with me.”
As a foil, Dylan comes up with one of the best songs of his latter-day career.
A masterwork indeed–my favourite of his last 25 years!