Shelter from the Storm begins with four seconds of unaccompanied acoustic guitar strumming, lively, purposeful, and then it is joined by the voice. “’Twas in another lifetime,” Dylan begins, “one of toil and blood,” immediately establishing this song as one cut from the same musical cloth as the traditional folk tales, gospel songs, and murder ballads Robert Zimmerman was learning before he “came in from the wilderness,” only not as “a creature void of form” but as “Bob Dylan”. It is a song that, thirty-five years after its original release, remains both contemporary and as timeless as one of the most basic archetypes of human experience: the hunter.I made fun of the mixed metaphor — I had the ridiculous image of somebody raping a crocodile in a cornfield — and you defended Bob. That was in another lifetime, it seems.
History and myth reveal three basic types of hunter: first, the hunter/gatherer who operates strictly to sustain life on either a personal or group level; second, a warrior whose primary motivation is destruction; third, a seeker whose interest lies in finding Holy Grails or a heart of gold.
The hunter in Shelter is ... a seeker with no interest in destruction but reconnection. Despite being “burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail, poisoned in the bushes an’ blown out on the trail, hunted like a crocodile (the hunter becomes the hunted), ravaged in the corn”, this quest will continue until she is found or the hunter is dead. “Nothing really matters much,” the narrator in Shelter states, “it’s doom (destiny, fate) alone that counts.”
April 27, 2010
Do you remember waking up in that tenement apartment that morning in 1975 and listening to the new Dylan album on the FM radio? "'Twas in another lifetime... one of toil and blood..."