I’m sure it is this morning’s rain combined with a certain mood, but this rolling guitar line and chorus has been bouncing through my mind since I woke to the sound of thunder. While blogging is an outlet for many of my obsessions, I keep a few to myself. I don’t share my avant jazz musical loves for example, nor do I spend a lot of time talking about theater, archaeology or a certain afternoon soap opera. Things I pay some attention to. And much of my personal life is off limits because it’s personal and uninteresting. I do have a healthy Bob Dylan thing that I keep close to me. I say healthy, because I go through whole periods where me and Zimmy are on the outs; not even on speaking terms. I certainly do not worship at the cult of Dylan. But, then he comes along one late night and we sit down, catching up with a long conversation, I wonder why I’ve ever taken him for granted.
During the years where Blood on the Tracks was in heavy rotation at château Rustbelt, my then girlfriend and I had heated disagreements over the relative romanticism of ‘Buckets of Rain’ and ‘Shelter from the Storm’. She insisted that my love for ‘Shelter’ was really my boy-like need for a mother/whore just like Dylan and there was no love at all in the song. It was just a male mothering fantasy. For her, ‘Buckets’ was where the real romance was. While I love ‘Buckets of Rain’, it strikes me a little as whimsy- nothing small about that- but it expresses the love you might feel for a puppy, it’s the feeling of skin on clean, cool sheets after sex. It’s a tactile song, while ‘Shelter’ needs no hands at all, since everything is up in the air. Well, we broke up. Okay, enough of the Rustbelt’s failed romances. I still love’ Shelter from the Storm’ and this version most of all. The album version is a kind of plea, this one a statement of fact. It is also, almost, a perfectly written song.
In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
I bargained for salvation an’ they gave me a lethal dose
I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”