The Red River Shore post generated a little bit of interest amongst some Bobcats. Most intriguing perhaps was an email from 'Daddio' that I thought was worth a post of its own. Here it is:
'When I was talking to my son recently about 'Red River Shore', I didn't admit that it brought tears to my eyes - because I didn't want to look like too much of a Bobbyphile. Glad you young guys shed a tear too. The feeling of alienation and loss is unbearable. Has any song ever caught better the helpless, claustrophobic sense that the past is another country to which you can never really return to put things right - especially the poignant penultimate verse? RRS echoes Bob's great early song, 'Bob Dylan's Dream' in this respect, but is even greater. The words may no longer pour out of him like water out of a tap, as they did in the '60s, as he himself admits in a guarded 2004 interview, but I think his later, tortured, carefully crafted work is even more memorable.
Whether or not Nick's right about RRS being a parable of Bob's relationship with God, the last verse certainly reveals Bob's belief that only Jesus can raise him from the living death in which he's entombed (and the girl?), and even his relationship with Jesus is in the irrecoverable past. This, of course, parallels the last verse of 'Not Dark Yet'.
I'm glad, though, that, as Bob himself said in that interview, he's made a contract with the 'commander-in-chief' of earth and heaven. Glad, too, that he's stated that, if he was in the corner in Time Out of Mind, he was coming out of the corner in Love and Theft and the corner's out of sight in Modern Times. Nick's right that there are hints in MT that Bob's relationship with God has been resurrected after all - because 'Someone there always cared' and 'Someone prayed for your soul' - there's always a reason why someone's life has been spared (Beyond the Horizon). Glad, again, that Bob's gospel era is being re-evaluated by the (white} critics and that they're talking about his 'almost supernatural' mastery of the Black Gospel genre.
I agree with Nick that Bob's mad. But even Bob recognises that in the title, Time Out of Mind! How else can you explain this majestic version of 'Born in Time' (TTS) being left off Oh Mercy, along with other great songs? Or why the stately driving version of 'Someday Baby' was rejected for the jaunty, unmemorable version on MT? Shot of Love, Oh Mercy and Infidels could have been so great, if the best songs had been included, and kept Bob at the forefront of music in the 'lost decade'.
As a contemporary of Dylan, I'm thankful to have sailed near the greatest modern bard for so long, and I have nothing but affection for him (in spite of that rip-off third disc).
Keep up the good blog, Nick, and 'God bless Bob' indeed! Daddio.'
For another great view of 'Red River Shore' take a look at Right Wing Bob's post. (Thanks to Scott Ralston for the 'heads up').
And finally, the better version of Red River Shore: