So many points to disagree with, so little time. I will put my arguments into a numbered list form for the convenience of my adoring public:
1. Dylan is allowed to write a simple love song. It's not lazy, any more than the songwriting on Nashville Skyline was lazy. Not everything has to be a big revelation.
2. You complain about Dylan getting stale, but I'd ask you to find an example of Dylan using this kind of arrangement before. In terms of instrumentation, you'd probably have to go all the way back to Street-Legal. In terms of rhythm and style, I can't really think of another Dylan song.
3. It's not particularly fetching melodically, I'll give you that. Still, you can look at ANY Dylan album and find songs that lack in that department. He's written some great melodies, but it's never been his strong suit. He's always been pretty basic. Take "Highway 61 Revisited" or "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest." Fine songs, nothing special melodically.
4. What did you expect from his voice? Given the progression of things, it's acceptable on "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'." It's a little thinner in places than it is on previous songs, but it's not falling apart or anything like that. I really don't think people should use the previews of the album as anything more than amusing diversions. When Rolling Stone calls his voice "dark, clear crystal," you aren't actually supposed to believe it. His voice is what I expected it to be.
5. Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan, he's going to do whatever the **expletive** he wants. I like what he's doing. The song's different than what's on Love and Theft or Modern Times.[/quote]
OK...to respond to some of this:
1) No problem with Dylan writing a simple love song. I love so many of them whether it be "Tomorrow's a Long Time" or "To Make You Feel My Love." So that's not an issue for me at all with this song. And I wouldn't say to begin with that "Beyond Here Lies Nothing" is worthless or terrible. Why I used the word lazy about his approach to songwriting with some of these songs is reliance on 12 bar blues format. Which makes "Levee's Gonna Break" sound so similar to "Summer Days."
2) I didn't say that Dylan was getting stale. I said that Dylan should challenge himself more in terms of the music (of the words and music components) of his songwriting. What really stands out to me as the gems from the last three albums are not the blues-based ones. But "Not Dark Yet," "Trying to Get to Heaven," "Standing in the Doorway," "Mississippi," "Workingman's Blues.": Songs that just don't follow the traditional blues format. And by the way, I think this is one of pitfalls Dylan falls into live these days. Having "Highway 61" "Watching the River Flow" "Summer Days" "Levee's Gonna Break" "Thunder on the Mountain" , etc...the shows lose a dynamic quality to them. This is just my opinion. Of course there are sheer moments of beauty and brilliance too!
3) It's true that his albums usually contain some songs that "lack in the melody" department. I understand that. That is why I am hoping that the other tunes on the new album will offer some more memorable ones.
4) I guess what I expected from his voice was not a "complete recovery" but an approach to singing that plays to the strengths he currently possesses. This is what Leonard Cohen has been doing on his tour and it has been working beautifully. And I know they are different singers...
5) I like what Bob brings to the table too. And the song does have a different feel than L&T and Modern Times. I was just pointing out that with this particular song, aside from the instrumentation, it's same old, same old. All this said, the man is a genius and I couldn't even begin to express the importance his music has had in my life.