Bob Dylan’s best songs: Shelter From The Storm #28

dylan

Thank you! This is the story of my life, this next song.
~Bob Dylan (before Shelter From The Storm – Earls Court, London, England – 20 June 1978)

“Shelter from the Storm” on Blood on the Tracks is a beautiful performance-and a very intimate one, relying on the closeness of the studio microphone (picking up subtleties of guitar playing as well as voice) and the passionate commitment of the singer to create a delicate framework of call and response around a tune that would otherwise be rather monotonous in terms of melodic and verbal structure.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

 

Studio versions

Check out:

There are two officially released version available:

jerry Maguire version

maguiresoundtrackfront

  • recorded 17 September 1974 (take 7)
  • released on “Jerry Maguire – Music From The Motion Picture” – December 10, 1996

This “alternate” version also includes an extra 7th verse:

Now the bonds are broken, but they can be retied
by one more journey to the woods, the holes where spirits hide.
It’s a never-ending battle for a peace that’s always torn.
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.

—-

That first line represents the only moment in the song where he explicitly expresses the hope that she may once again provide shelter. This could be why it stayed a part of the song long enough to be recorded; as fans discovered when an alternate take was used for the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe’s jerry Maguire movie.
~Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1974-2006)

Album version

blood-on-the-tracks-album-cover

  • recorded 17 September 1974 (take 14)
  • released on “Blood On The Tracks” – January 17, 1975

Lyrics

On Blood on the Tracks and the next album, Desire (1976), Dylan is trying to do a balancing act
— trying to fuse God and MGrayWoman:
‘In a little hilltop village / They gambled for my clothes / I bargained for salvation / And they gimme a lethal dose / I offered up my innocence / Got repaid with scorn / Come in she said I’ll give ya / Shelter from the storm . . . / If I could only turn back the clock / To when God and her were born / Come in she said I’ll give ya / Shelter from the storm.’
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

 

#1 ’Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

#2 And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured
I’ll always do my best for her, on that I give my word
In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

#3 Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved
Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

#4 I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail
Poisoned in the bushes an’ blown out on the trail
Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

#5 Suddenly I turned around and she was standin’ there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

[extra verse – jerry Maguire version]
Now the bonds are broken, but they can be retied
by one more journey to the woods, the holes where spirits hide.
It’s a never-ending battle for a peace that’s always torn.
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.

#6 Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

#7 Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much, it’s doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

#8 I’ve heard newborn babies wailin’ like a mournin’ dove
And old men with broken teeth stranded without love
Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn?
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

#9 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”

#10 Well, I’m livin’ in a foreign country but I’m bound to cross the line
Beauty walks a razor’s edge, someday I’ll make it mine
If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

The jerry Maguire version includes an extra verse (as indicated) and verse #6 is moved between #8 and #9. There are also other minor differences as: “…they/she gave me a lethal dose”, and others.

..the ‘Shelter’ narrative descends from some mythopoeic realm, its mournful message operating almost as ‘Wedding Song Part 2’. This time he does not explicitly state that ‘she’ saved his life, rather describing how he was ‘burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail’. Or, as he originally wrote it, ‘Bushwhacked on the prairie, rolled on New Year’s Eve I Poisoned in the orchard, buried in the leaves.’
~Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1974-2006)

Live versions

Here are some very strong live versions.

For even more, check out:

Hughes Stadium, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado – 23 May 1976

Listen to the guitar riff on “Shelter from the Storm,” how it’s held back during the verses, and then bursts forth between them, so full of personality that after a while it seems the guitar riffs are the words to the song, and the vocal is the instrumental fill.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Pavillon de Paris – Paris, France, 6 July 1978:

bob dylan paris 1978

Messehalle 20, Hanover, West Germany – 20 September 1987

The Warfield Theater, San Francisco, California – 5 May 1992

Kongresový sál, Palác kultury, Prague, Czech Republic – 11 March 1995

To close a remarkable evening, instead of running through a couple of standard encores Dylan returned for a magnificent “Shelter From The Storm”. The song started quietly, with phenomenal care taken over the vocals, before building up to a climax infused with extensive and intense harmonica playing. It was another performance of epic stature..
~Andrew Muir (One More Night: Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour)

Vorst Nationaal, Brussels, Belgium – 22 June 1996

Check out:

-Egil

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