ebster’s defines it as ‘a position or the state of being covered and protected.’ Sometimes some of us reach a place in life where, if we can’t have love, at least we hope for a shelter from the storm.
From the opening verse
'Twas in another life time, 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."
it’s not completely clear whether the shelter is real or imagined.
Later, “Dylan sings
Try imagining a place Where it's always safe and warm
but if he’s reassuring us, why use the word ‘imagine’? It’s as if his life has become so bleak that he’s blind to the cost of her ‘shelter.’ Too late, he learns.
I bargained for salvation And she gave me a lethal dose. I offered up my innocence And got repaid with scorn
Perhaps ‘learns’ isn’t the right word; still hopeful at the end,
Beauty walks a razors edge, Someday I'll make it mine. If I could only turn back the clock
but clocks don’t turn back; the past is irretrievably gone.
Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” is a treasure of an album. “Tangled Up in Blue” hits me just as hard today as it did the first time I heard it 27 years ago, but “Shelter from the Storm” has taken on a whole new meaning over the years.
Musically sparse, as Dylan often is, one thing that struck me when I rediscovered “Shelter” a few years ago was how stong the bass-playing is. It reminds me of Rick Haynes on some of Gordon Lightfoot’s early albums; strong, melodic, not content to stay in the background, but never quite competing with vocals or guitar. It’s a link I thoroughly enjoy.