Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Make You Feel My Love Reveals Dylan's Tender Side

"You've got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend..." ~ Positively Fourth Street

"Positively Fourth Street" wasn't the first song to reveal Dylan's visceral edge. And "Make You Feel My Love" wasn't the first to reveal his tenderness. But what a contrast this latter song is to Fourth Street, or to the manner in which he spits out "It Ain't Me, Babe" on his live 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue featured on Bootleg Volume 5. Make You Feel is just one of many reasons Time Out Of Mind brought Dylan's critics and fans to their feet in '97 and won him a Grammy.

I have too many favorite moments from this album to list them here, beginning with the brokenness expressed on the opening track, "Love Sick", to the reflective "Not Dark Yet" followed immediately by the rockin' revolt, "Cold Irons Bound." This one really didn't even jump out at me like some of the others, at first. But isn't that what makes a Dylan album so special. The songs that hook you seem designed to bring you back in so you'll discover the more subtle features of their comrades.

Who is Dylan singing to here? Is it simply to "his muse"? Picasso always had a muse. Writers, too, often rely on their muse to awaken their best work, impressions and expressions. On the other side of the ledger, during dry spells artists wonder what it will take to awaken their muse again. Dylan had had a fairly long dry spell before Time Out Of Mind, his thirtieth studio album. The emergence here was a most welcome event for his fans.

As for Make You Feel, it's really not a complicated song.

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

Yet its frankness connects, hence it has been covered by numerous other artists including Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, and this one by Adele:

When the evening shatters and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on the rollin' sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothing like me yet

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love

* * * *
The sentiment marked in italics is rare in an age of compromise, though it's often used glibly. Even when we mean it we hold back. We fear being so vulnerable as these words suggest.

The words are emotionally charged. The storms are raging... because of our difficulties controlling what we feel. And we travel a highway of regret because we can never redo those moments of missed opportunity.

Here's a live version of Dylan making his appeal.

And finally, here's Adele again... singing a heartbreaking version as a tribute to Amy Winehouse.

Meantime, love goes on all around you. Let it touch you.

* * * *
Reminder that Duluth Dylan Fest is approaching quickly. If you're coming in from out of town it may be a good time to book hotel reservations. Celebrate Bob's 74th birthday with us. Tickets for Acoustic Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan are now on sale. 

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