Carribean Wind is another one of those immense Dylan songs one can find perplexing how he deemed it unreleasable material. When writing this post I was tossing up between this and Abandoned Love to declare my favourite. I realised I hadn’t accounted for Blind Willie Mctell and Series of Dreams which I’m also captivated. The legendary Biograph bootleg version of Carribean Wind is outstanding and unfortunately cannot be forwarded here due to copyright restrictions. Such is life, but I have relayed below the only other existing copy which I used to orchestral my family’s Carribean trip to Cartagena.
What’s staggering considering Dylan’s musical influence and everything else, there is no wikipedia page of this song. And look… you can harp upon song meanings in typical songs but as Paul Robert Thomas implied with Carribean Wind, this isn’t a song with a straight-forward meaning rather it’s all to do with the context Dylan found himself in:
(Carribean Wind is..) mostly as an indicator of the position of his soul, as a man who was now bereft of his family life following the embittered divorce proceedings and who had at first totally embraced Jesus Christ, but was quickly falling out of His grasp – at least the dogmatic grasp of the Christian Vineyard Fellowship, and who would soon return to the religion of his forefathers, Judaism. Read entire article.
And Mr Thomas isn’t alone in his thoughts because this song was written during the sessions for the album Shot of Love which is a fairly devout Christian album, but after undergoing a mountain of rewrites Dylan decided that the task of seeing Carribean Wind come to fruition alluded him. I have always felt it too, in listening to him, that Dylan was undergoing a struggle between Christianity and his Judaism hereditary. The track below is from one of those Shot of Love sessions which doesn’t hold a torch to the release on Biograph but it’s still plenty good. It’s extremely crude and demonstrates everything good and bad about Dylan but I like listening to him in both excesses.
The lyrics in this song differ significantly in the various versions, but whichever way you view them they are mindblowing:
She looked into my soul through the clothes that I wore
She said “we got a mutual friend standing at the door
Yeah, you know he’s got our best interest in mind”
He was well connected, but her heart was a snare
And she had left him to die in there,
Eighty payments due and he was a little behind.
Well, I slip in a hotel where flies buzz my head
Ceiling fan was broken, there was heat in my bed
Street band playing “Nearer My God To Thee”
We met in secret where we drank from a spring
She said “I know what you’re thinking, but there ain’t a thing
We can do about it, so we might as well let it be”
Unlike others who have said they don’t know where he was going with this, and the same could be said for the reaction of his whole ‘Street Legal’ (78, which I regard his greatest accomplishment) I feel its some of his most transcendent output. Our minds are complicated beasts and in these works he seems to rewake the mithological and archetypical parts of our subconcious selves – in particular Carribean Wind represents the Feminine versus Masculine pull and tug in archetpical mode. These stories go way deep and should not be discarded on a whim!
Thankfully Dylan just released the official release of the 1981 studio outtake: