Oh Mercy, Bob Dylan
Columbia Records, September 18, 1989
Track Listing: 1. Political World, 2. Where Teardrops Fall, 3. Everything Is Broken, 4. Ring Them Bells, 5. Man in the Long Black Coat, 6. Most of the Time, 7. What Good Am I?, 8. Disease of Conceit, 9. What Was It You Wanted, 10. Shooting Star
Oh mercy is right. A midnight train chugs along with absolutely no intention of stopping. Rusty bolts lock railroad cars together in a necklace of steel that stretches around the horizon. The gates go down and the world stops in its tracks as the immovable force rolls on without end.
Time cannot react for it is has never before tasted such defeat. This can only be the result of a tripped out voodoo curse, sealed in the shadows of a New Orleans night by a handshake between two mystery men.
“There are no mistakes in life some people say
It is true sometimes you can see it that way
But people don’t live or die, people just float
She went with the man in the long black coat”
-from “Man in the Long Black Coat”
Midnight hours carry invitations sent by gypsies. The names change. Years play wicked games around bonfires and dancing trails of smoke. The band of ghosts keeps strumming along in unison as their leader, the man in the long black coat, refuses to reveal himself completely, choosing instead to give away snippets of his identity through a bottomless chest of songs.
In the darkness, you remain unsure. This may all be an allusion, channeled into your subconscious by surly spirits hell bent on having their fun at your expense. You continue to listen for clues. You try and enter their secret world.
Note: In this book, Chronicles, Volume One, Bob Dylan provides a rare glimpse into his private world. One of the most fascinating sections of the autobiography captures the events that conspired to lead to the making of Oh Mercy, when he joined forces in New Orleans with a ghost from his past, Daniel Lanois.