Many of the songs on both Nashville Skyline and New Morning find Dylan singing the praises of the simple, retired life of the country surrounded by friends and family. The more cynical of us find this a bit too tidy and easy. We wonder if he’s trying to convince himself the new lifestyle is fine and dandy.This song seems proof that we might be right.
Take for example, To Be Alone With You, another song from this time period. There’s nothing in those lyrics to suggest that Dylan is not altogether satisfied his workaday existence as long has he has his woman waiting for him at home. But Time Passes Slowly displays some chinks in the armor.
Time passes slowly up here in the daylight
We stare straight ahead and try so hard to stay right
Like the red rose of summer that blooms in the day
Time passes slowly and fades away
“We stare straight ahead and try so hard to stay right” sounds like something a man who is about to bolt of the porch and catch the next train to the big city. Which Dylan will do shortly. He said once about this period, “I went into the bucolic and mundane as far as possible.” It seems he had about reached the end.
The recording is not Dylan at his best. The vocal abrasive, and not in a good way. I usual like his piano playing, but not on this one.
The sublime Tomorrow Is a Long Time didn’t make the cut for some reason. The great cover of Spanish Is The Loving Tongue didn’t make it either.
A version with George Harrison appears on Another Self-Portrait.