Knocked Out Loaded

'Got My Mind Made Up' (Bob Dylan / Tom Petty) (2:55)

Bob Dylan: Vocals; Tom Petty: Guitar; Mike Campbell: Guitar; Benmont Tench: Keyboards; Stan Lynch: Drums and percussion; Howie Epstein: Bass; Philip Lyn Jones: Conga; Carol Dennis, Queen Esther Marrow, Elisecia Wright, Madelyn Quebec: Vocals

Written and recorded on a break from their current joint tour, this is a terrific rocker with somewhat
vague and cryptic (if still engaging) lyrics. It's difficult to pinpoint what part of the song means, proudly joining hundreds of other Dylan headtrips. At the time I deciphered "...
Well,I'm goin' off to Libya/ There's a guy I gotta see/ He's been living there three years now/ In an oil refinery/ I've got my mind made up" as some kind of negative commentary concerning US President Reagan's bombing of Libya following a series of war declarations made by that country's leader Muammar al-Quaddafi. It didn't make sense why either Dylan or Petty would have such a view in light of Libyan sponsored terrorism, so they remain some of Dylan's wonderfully mysterious lines. (Anyone have any guesses?) Ever since then I've just really enjoyed 'Got My Mind Made Up' as a pure rock song. And as such, it definitely works. Lyrics like "... Don't ever try to change me, I been in this thing too long/ There's nothin' you can say or do/ To make me think I'm wrong" and ". ..Well, if you don't want to see me/  Look the other way/ You don't have to feed me/ I ain't your dog that's gone astray/ I got my mind made up ..." suggest a kiss-off to critics and fans who expressed bewilderment with his recent work, foreshadowing the next album's 'Silvio' as well as 'What Was It You Wanted' from 1989's "Oh Mercy". While hardly as well-known as those two songs, this one is just as excellent. Coming after 'Brownsville Girl', this track is a statement of determination in life. The final side road on "Knocked Out Loaded" before the journey ends.
Considering how great the Heartbreakers gel with Bob (also check out the 'Band Of The Hand' single for more of this) I always expected an entire studio album with this configuration. Of course Bob went on to work with Petty and has worked with several individual Heartbreakers, but the hoped-for album...didn't happen.
It still possibly could, but it's doubtful.

'Under Your Spell' (Bob Dylan / Carole Bayer Sager) (3:56)

Bob Dylan: Vocals, Guitar; Patrick Seymour: Keyboards; Dave Stewart: Guitar; Clem Burke: Drums and percussion; John McKenzie: Bass; Carol Dennis, Queen Esther Marrow, Elisecia Wright, Madelyn Quebec, Muffy Hendrix: Vocals

Apparently all Bayer-Sager contributed to 'Under Your Spell', by her own admission, was the title.
So we can logically assume everything else was penned by Bob Dylan, and it is this song that the album title is taken from. (For a very interesting insight to the title, please visit the Reader Comments section). The recording itself sounds, on the surface, somewhat middle-of-the-road, but it still resonates with it's own singular beauty, and the musicians (basically the Eurythmics without Lennox) are stellar. (This track was the only released result of sessions held in Dave Stewart's London studio in November 1985, and we can only speculate as to what would have happened if "Knocked Out Loaded" had more from these sessions.)  As with the best of Dylan, the lyrics are fairly ambiguous and can be interpreted any number of different ways, and in fact I get a slightly different mental picture from 'Under Your Spell' almost every time I listen to it, certainly a hallmark of the best of Dylan.
So, what we have here is yet another overlooked masterwork, with Dylan's resigned, sad but excellent performance enhancing some very vivid lyrics and one of Bob's great melodies.
Best of all is the haunting "...
Well it's four in the morning by the sound of the birds/ I'm starin' at your picture, I'm hearin' your words/ Baby, they ring in my head like a bell".
Dylan manages some sarcasm and humor, but under it all is a dark side (or, at least, it may or may not be heard that way) with an allusion to what we have since come to define as 'stalking', with "But I will be back, I will survive/ You'll never get rid of me as long as you're alive/ Baby, can't you tell." Again, there is something so very *real* going on here, it's quite possible that this meant something literal. But in all likelihood only one person (or maybe two) really knows, and he or they aren't talking. Probably never will.
This is the final song on "Knocked Out Loaded", and since it is basically a sad ballad of love lost, it stands in direct contrast to everything that came before it..or does it? I think not. 

Note: The running time for 'Under Your Spell' is listed erroneously as 4:55 on the cd.

Next - Final Thoughts

Previous - 'Brownsville Girl'