Well, your railroad gate, you know I just can’t jump it
Sometimes it gets so hard, you see
I’m just sitting here beating on my trumpet
With all these promises you left for me
But where are you tonight, sweet Marie?
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m trav’lin’ on
Don’t think twice, it’s all right
A lot of people make it sort of a love song — slow and easy-going. But it isn’t a love song. It’s a statement that maybe you can say to make yourself feel better. It’s as if you were talking to yourself. It’s a hard song to sing. I can sing it sometimes, but I ain’t that good yet.
-Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Liner Notes)
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
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)
I can hear the turning of the key
I’ve been deceived by the clown inside of me
I thought that he was righteous but he’s vain
Oh, something’s a-telling me I wear the ball and chain
‘Abandoned Love’ marks the very point at which Dylan decided to (temporarily) abandon love, and particularly forsaken love, as the prime subject-matter for his songs.
~Clinton Heylin (Still On The Road)
When she said
“Don’t waste your words, they’re just lies”
I cried she was deaf
And she worked on my face until breaking my eyes
Then said, “What else you got left?”
It was then that I got up to leave
But she said, “Don’t forget
Everybody must give something back
For something they get”
What exactly inspired “4th Time Around” is one of the great Dylan mysteries. The melody and story line are a direct takeoff of the 1965 Beatles song “Norwegian Wood” – among the band’s first songs with a clear Dylan influence. Was the line “I never asked for your crutch, now don’t ask for mine” a warning to stop ripping him off? Dylan’s never said, but three months after he recorded it, he went on a famously stoned limo ride with John Lennon around London and didn’t seem to be harboring any malice. The next year he released John Wesley Harding, which has what appears to be an upside-down image of the Beatles hidden in a tree on the cover – but that’s another mystery.