Very strange to have this puzzle following yesterday's David Bowie tribute. Today we have a tribute to a song by Mr. Bowie's older and still extant contemporary, Bob Dylan. Funnily enough, Dylan also is not his real name: he is actually Robert Allen Zimmerman, and was born Jewish in Duluth, Minnesota. What a peculiar combination. One of my best college friends was from Duluth, and he was about as far from Jewish as you can get.
Anyway, a song title that is splittable into 8/7/8 letters is a boon to crossword creators. When I had THETIMES, I filled in THEYARE and ACHANGIN immediately, which opened up large areas of the puzzle. And then Mr. Perl takes the title literally and creates anagrams of the word "times" six times in the puzzle. I am mighty glad that he chose 1A: *Do in, old-style (SMITE) as his first entry, because that's a fun word, and by far the best of the list (B+). Is 1D the past participle of "smite" (SMOOT)? No, I'm just kidding.
ITEMS, MITES, EMITS, ITSME, IMSET. Lucky that the word's letters include 4 of the most common letters in the English language. Because of the setup of the puzzle, there's a bunch of crossword glue to make those areas work, including EAT / MRE / SDS in the NW, which was a little painful. Still, I enjoyed the idea of the theme quite a bit.
And there are those two lovely lovely long down answers, 3D: How Buddhists strive to live (INTHEMOMENT) and 26D: "Colorful" folk duo (INDIGOGIRLS). Very nice. Always been a fan of both of those entities. That last ends up being my favorite.
Okay, so going through the rest of the puzzle again, I'm discovering a ton of stuff I could do without. I don't mind ISAO or ELIA. They're pretty standard bits of crosswordese. FTLEE is getting a little old. ERIES is painful. Wouldn't you just call that tribe, or even several of its members, the Erie? Partials IMAT and IGO. Plural abbreviation GES, RDAS, and ATNOS. AANDE and CTEAM.
So this is the sacrifice you make for a dense theme. Your mileage may vary.