Bob Dylan’s Tempest is as good as the cardboard heat on your palms when you carry the pizza box from the driveway to the front door; the sound and the weight, the doughy scrape of the crust sliding as you open the front door of your house and go in sideways; Has an electric charge, as present as the things on the kitchen table no one bothered to clean off while you went out to get the pizza with your parents’ money—the photo album, the blue ceramic bowl with keys in it and bananas, a block of newspaper. You will shove those things, whatever they are, whack them with the corners of the pizza box and not bother to investigate their fate. The song “Scarlet Town” is the knowledge that you are the one who will draw first-cheese on the pizza. You have the jump on the others—this is your privilege for making the drive. They will never see this pizza in its entirety, they are still in the other room watching television or in the computer room knitting a scarf. Only you will experience the full thing, and just for a brief glowing moment, but the moment belongs only to you and the crispiest curves, the oft floury hide of the total crust. That is “Scarlet Town.” “Tempest,” about the sinking of the Titanic, is the moment after your family’s initial pizza frenzy when you realize there’re more slices left than you’d thought there’d be. “Narrow Way” is the cold sweat of the 2-liter bottle of Coca Cola, unopened on the table next to the unaccosted box, ready to hiss. Bob Dylan is 71 years old and has made another of his greatest albums. Considering his catalog the odds of pulling something like this off have not been in his favor for decades, yet he beats them each time. Once more Bob proved you’re never too old to expand your lead.
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