Dreams and Dialogues in Dylan’s "Time Out of Mind"

Dreams and Dialogues in Dylan’s "Time Out of Mind"

By Graley Herren

Anthem Studies in Theatre and Performance

This book studies Bob Dylan’s album Time Out of Mind as a series of dreams. These dreams work on three distinct levels: as murder ballads about a killer awaiting execution, as religious allegory about a protagonist torn between salvation and damnation, and as meditation on race and music in America.

PDF, 250 Pages


July 2021

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 250 Pages


July 2021

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
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  • Table of Contents
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About This Book

Time Out of Mind is one of the most ambitious, complex, and provocative albums of Bob Dylan’s artistic career. This album marks the culmination of several recurring themes that have preoccupied Dylan for decades, and it serves as a pivotal turning point toward his late renaissance in terms of both subject matter and intertextual approach. Despite winning a number of accolades, Time Out of Mind has been largely misunderstood and underestimated. This book seeks to remedy that by excavating three distinct levels of meaning at work in the songs recorded for the album. On one level, Time Out of Mind is Dylan’s intimate portrait of a killer, a series of murder ballads drawn from the memories, dreams, and fantasies of a condemned man awaiting execution for killing his lover. On another level, the album is a religious allegory, dramatizing the protagonist’s relentless struggles with his lover as a battle between spirit and flesh, earth and heaven, salvation and damnation. On still another level, Time Out of Mind is a meditation on American slavery and racism, Dylan’s most personal encounter with the subject, but one tangled up in the minstrelsy tradition and other white appropriations of black experiences. 

Time Out of Mind is an innovative and rigorously researched book, geared toward inspiring future scholarship. The three distinct but intertwined interpretations of the songs recorded for the album—as murder ballads, as religious allegory, and as “race record”—are highly original and provocative. The arguments put forth in the book will fundamentally alter our understanding of Time Out of Mind.


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Author Information

Graley Herren is a professor of english at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He has authored books on Samuel Beckett and Don DeLillo, and he is the editor of five volumes of the Text & Presentation book series.


Anthem Studies in Theatre and Performance

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; 1. Dreams and Dialogues; 2. Murder Ballads; 3. Religious Allegory; 4. Race in America; Bibliography; Index.


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