Bob Dylan’s latest album Beyond Here Lies Nothin’: The Collection is a collection of the very best of Dylan’s brand of poetic musical genius. Released in October 2011, this is the ultimate Bob Dylan compilation album. Any true Dylan fan would by-all-means love it, possibly more than they love themselves.
Not only does this album contain some of Dylan’s most memorable, political, poetic and purely beautiful tunes, but it compiles them in such a way as to mirror Dylan’s career. It chronologically spans five decades in thirty-three mesmerizing songs in their original composition and execution. Two-discs enclose all that is Dylan, in ideals, in heartbreak, in literary allusions, in puns, in pristine unadulterated lyrical prowess.
The first disc is composed of seventeen songs, winding the listener from the early ‘60s folk Dylan to the mid-60s electric Dylan and even a tiny look at an early ‘70s Dylan. It begins with one of his most famous songs that somehow resonates with every generation, and probably will continue to do so until the end of time. This song is, of course, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Then comes several other folky tunes such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” , “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues” among many others.
Now, for those who prefer electric Dylan, there’s plenty of that as well. Also on the first disc, electric tunes such as “Like a Rolling Stone” introduce Dylan in a new phase of his career. Other electric tunes include “I Want You,” “Desolation Row” and my personal favorite “Tombstone Blues.” As Bob says, “The Sun’s Not Yellow. It’s Chicken.”
At the end of the first disc, we find ourselves in the ‘70s, with “Watching the River Flow” and “I Threw It All Away.”
The second disc begins with “Lay, Lady, Lay” and “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” a song written in 1967 in Woodstock, New York. It wasn’t officially released until 1971 on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits: Vol. II. Two of Dylan’s most critically-acclaimed songs “Tangled Up In Blue” and “Hurricane” can also be heard on this disc.
Then, Dylan brings us into the ‘80s with tunes like “Jokerman,” “Ring Them Bells” and “Brownsville Girl.” And then to more modern times, the ‘90s Dylan composes “Make You Feel My Love” from his album Time Out of Mind. Again Dylan moves to the 2000’s with more good tunes like “Po’ Boy” and “Thunder on the Mountain.”
And, of course, he ends with the title track “Beyond Here Lies Nothin,’” which was originally released in 2009 on his album Together Through Life. “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’” shows a newer, funkier Bob, as he sings with his gruff voice a proclamation of love.
Let us not forget, the numerous songs that have been covered by other musical artists. Two of the most notable songs that were covered also appear in this massive compilation. On Disc One, “All Along the Watchtower” resides, which Dylan first recorded in 1967. And this might possibly be his shortest song. Jimi Hendrix then covered this song for Electric Ladyland in 1968. Also, on Disc Two, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” appears, originally recorded by Bob in 1973. This song was covered by many artists, the two most celebrated versions being Eric Clapton’s version in 1975 and the Guns N’ Roses version in 1987.
So, Bob Dylan fans rejoice as there is now a compilation of all of Dylan’s greatest songs. Heaven forbid that your Dylan record collection be destroyed, but if this were the only Dylan album you owned, you would survive. It does not get much better than Bob Dylan when you think of some of the world’s greatest musicians. Through harmonica, guitar (both acoustic and electric), and some of the most beautifully waxed poetic lyrics of all time, Beyond Here Lies Nothin’: The Collection is a compilation album that every Dylan fan should own. So, go ahead, travel through time, through the life, the career and the music of Bob Dylan in one great album.