I was watching St. Vincent last night (which I recommend you do, too), and after wiping away a few tears at the end, I watched Bill Murray sing along to “Shelter from the Storm” as the closing credits played. It was the perfect ending.
It also made me think about what a gentle, generous, wistful song this is. I remember hearing it on the late, great KMET very late one night when I couldn’t sleep. There’s a darkness to this song, but that’s a hallmark of a great number of Bob Dylan’s best songs, and it seems right that I first heard it in the darkness.
What makes Dylan great is how he takes those dark feelings and gives them different shades and tones. The darkness of “Shelter from the Storm” is completely different from the darkness of, say, “Idiot Wind” from the same album. Like I said, it’s gentle and generous and wistful. A love that is gone but left the singer so profoundly changed that forgetting it isn’t even an option. It made him a better man. And a worse man. It’s complicated, full of shadows and ghosts. The perfect late night song.
I usually like to post a live clip or something with some kind of visual interest. But this song doesn’t need anything but your ears and your heart. Enjoy it.