The speculation was spot on. Bob Dylan is to deliver his first album of original songs in eight years.
Columbia Records has announced that Rough and Rowdy Ways will be released on June 19. His last album of original material was the acclaimed Tempest in 2012. The news came with the release of another single, “False Prophet,” the first to be officially linked to the new album.
Dylan, who won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, has long rejected the title of Prophet.
In 2004 he told 60 Minutes: “I never wanted to be a prophet or saviour. Elvis, maybe. I could easily see myself becoming him. But prophet? No.”
And on “False Prophet, ” a blues-rock number, he sings: “I ain’t no false prophet, I just know what I know.”
Dylan had previously teased critics and fans with the release of two original songs in the past couple of months. The first was “Murder Most Foul,” a 17-minute epic about the assassination of President Kennedy. Despite its length, it would become his first-ever #1 song under his own name on a Billboard chart. He soon followed with “I Contain Multitudes” and it has now been confirmed that both will also be on Rough and Rowdy Ways.
The new album has ten tracks. And on the CD version, the lengthy “Murder Most Foul” gets its own disc.
Dylan’s last full-length release was his 2017 triple album of Standards, Triplicate. But in the intervening years of his original material, there has been a steady output of reissues, including Bootleg Series installments.
All of Dylan’s tease material has been well received by the critics so the stars are very much aligned for Rough and Rowdy Ways to become a blockbuster. By the time it is released, the man himself will have celebrated his 79th birthday (May 24).
One Rolling Stone review of “Murder Most Foul” even used the word masterpiece: “Seventeen minutes, and it’s over way too soon. It sounds maybe like Dylan might have flipped for Lana Del Rey’s “The Greatest,” like the rest of us. But it also sounds like JFK is just an excuse for one of those masterpieces where Dylan grabs hold of American history and treats it like a Saturday night.”
Rough and Rowdy Ways will be Dylan’s 39th studio album, coming 58 years after his first
self-titled release which contained just two original songs and sold only 5,000 copies in its first year.
“My Rough and Rowdy Ways” was a song written by Elsie McWilliams and recorded by Jimmie Rodgers, the so-called Father of Country Music, in October 1929.