Monday, August 17, 2015

Shelter From the Storm

A helpful woman
Offers shelter to a man
In need of plenty.

"Shelter From the Storm," released on the 1975 album "Blood on the Tracks," is considered one of Dylan's enduring classics. It is the second-to-last song on this album full of wistful misery and heartbreak, and is loaded with symbolism that I'm sure many people have tried to unlock and understand. The basic story is that a woman offers shelter to a man. The storm is almost certainly not a storm, but some other non-meteorlogical phenomenon, like a troubled life, various woes and on and on.

1. He enters the world, void of form, coming from the wilderness. He gets shelter.
2. He'll always do her a solid if he comes back again.
3. Their relationship was left unresolved, but he would love to get shelter again.
4. He was burned out, buried in hail, poisoned and "blown out on the trail." Like most of us at the age of 33. He also was hunted and ravaged. She offers shelter.
5. She's a beautiful vision. Even better, she removes crowns of thorns from self-styled martyrs.
6. Something went wrong in their relationship.
7. There's a deputy and there's a preacher. Deputy's on nails and the preacher is on horseback. Don't ask me why. Doom is all that counts. There's also a one-eyed undertaker with a horn.
8. Crying infants, lovelorn old men.
9. He was beset by philistines in a village. They gambled for his clothes. He bargained for salvation and got poison instead. He offered his innocence and was scorned.
10. Now he's living over the border, though he'll come back. "Beauty walks the razor's edge someday I'll make it mine." He wishes he could turn back time to when she gave him shelter from the storm. This is almost certainly a reference to the novel by W. Somerset Maugham, who wrote "The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard." Nobody knows that more than Bob. This phrase is from the Katha-Upanishad, which in part tells the story of the hard road to liberation of the soul. Maugham used it after visiting India and meeting Ramana Maharishi at this ashram in Tamil Nadu, according to the ever-resourceful Wikipedia. 

1 comment:

  1. Another 3 liner and so much more. Read enough? Then come inside Bob Dylan's Music Box and listen to all the great versions of this and every other song...