Meet Me In The Morning

Introduction

A curious characteristic of some Dylan songs is that they can initially seem unimpressively simple while turning out to be anything but. Meet Me In The Morning is such a song. The lines are short; it’s full of simple expressions found in other songs; some versions omit a verse; and the blues style means that there are as many repeated lines as verses. All this is misleading, however, since a closely attentive reading of the full song will throw up a mine of intricacies and subtleties indiscernible to the casual listener.

Throughout, the narrator is addressing a lover with whom he has fallen out. The monologue form here enables the numerous faults of an essentially flawed narrator to be presented through his own words.1 And by way of a masterpiece of succinct writing (it takes only five words), we’re able to compare the narrator with the woman he desires but maligns. Unwittingly he informs us that she, like him, is attempting to mend the relationship. We find that his own efforts, by contrast, are blighted by bouts of pessimism and recrimination.


Imagery

A subtle feature of the song lies in the way it uses imagery. The narrator repeatedly refers to travel, bad weather, light as opposed to dark, and religion. However, a distinction needs to be drawn between what the narrator might be using an image to show, and what it actually does show. Further, while some images are the narrator’s, others can be attributed primarily to the fictional writer in the sense that it’s unlikely the narrator would himself have used them.2 Examples of the former include his comments on darkness in verse two, and on the rooster in verse three. One can believe that the narrator really might have quoted the aphorism about the darkest hour, and that actually hearing a rooster might well have prompted his subsequent comparison of the rooster with himself. Conversely, the first verse’s references to a road intersection and a journey to Kansas would seem to serve symbolic ends – and therefore the writer’s rather than the narrator’s. That particular meeting point and journey have no significance beyond the literal for the narrator, but they enable the writer to represent symbolically the state of the relationship, and the narrator’s plan for improving it.


Travel

It’s in part through images involving travel that the writer presents the narrator’s plans, obstacles he encounters, and his final pessimism about his chances of success. There are three references to travel in the song, in verses one, four and six respectively. In the first, the narrator proposes that he and the woman meet up to undertake a journey. In the fourth he explains why it can’t be undertaken immediately, and in the last verse the journey is implicitly compared by the writer to a sea voyage.

We’re not told why the narrator chooses the particular place he does to meet the woman:

”Meet me in the morning, 56th and Wabasha’

or what the attraction is of Kansas as a destination. But there’s no need. The real function within the song of both the meeting and the journey is symbolic. The writer is  representing the narrator’s attempt to rekindle the relationship. The two roads represent the differences between the couple because, like them in their present state, the roads are going in different directions. And since the meeting point is at the intersection of the roads, it can be seen as representing the initial meeting of minds required for harmonising the relationship. Their subsequent work on the relationship is represented by their journeying in one and the same direction towards Kansas.

We’re also not told why the morning is the time chosen for the meeting. However, it becomes apparent that the process of reconciliation cannot get going before then. In terms of the travel image it’s as if:

‘… the station doors are closed’.

The literal reason for the delay will become apparent from a consideration of imagery involving weather and light, which will be discussed below.

In the final verse the narrator anticipates that his attempt to renew the relationship will come to nothing:

‘Look at the sun sinkin’ like a ship
Ain’t that just like my heart, babe’

The setting sun reminds him of a sinking ship and that in turn reminds him of his own sinking feelings. While the full significance of these lines will also be considered below, it’s worth noting that the narrator’s efforts are again being associated with a journey. This time it’s as a sea voyage which ends prematurely with the foundering of the ship.

It’s unnecessary to attribute the travel imagery to the narrator. It seems unlikely he intends the Kansas and station references to be taken other than literally. Rather, it’s the fictional writer who should be seen as imbuing them with a significance for symbolically representing both the narrator’s outlook and his emotional state.


Weather

As with travel, there are three references to weather in the song – in verses one, four and five respectively. When at the outset the narrator says:

‘… we could be in Kansas
By [the] time the snow begins to thaw’,

he expects this to be interpreted literally. However, for the song’s purposes the ‘thaw’ is the thawing of the couple’s relationship. The writer is indicating that the healing process won’t be quick.

In the third verse, weather again has a figurative role:

‘The birds are flying low babe, honey I feel so exposed’

 Low-flying birds are a sign of an imminent storm. On a literal level the narrator is providing a plausible excuse for postponing the journey till morning. Figuratively, however, it may represent a setback – a violent, further downturn in the relationship. The narrator is fearing the worst but, tellingly, more for himself at this time than for the relationship:

 ‘I feel so exposed’.

The third weather reference has the narrator remind the woman of past suffering resulting from the state of their relationship:

‘… I … felt the hail fall from above’

This apparently trivial claim is presumably the result of the writer’s recasting in meteorological terms what the narrator actually said. This is because it symbolises the narrator’s supposed suffering in a way that, interpreted literally, would be inconsistent with his desire to win the woman’s sympathy:

‘… I’ve earned your love’

By substituting the weather image, the writer is able to confine the listener’s attention to the self-indulgent manner of the narrator’s attempt to curry favour, when it might otherwise have become distracted by unimportant details.


Light

Imagery involving light is extensive. It figures in verses one, two, four and six, appearing  as ‘morning’, ‘dawn’,’ matches’ and’ the sun’ respectively. As well as its conscious use by the narrator to stand for his happiness, it represents the pre-conditions for any successful renewal of the relationship.

The song comprises the narrator’s words, or thoughts, on the evening before the proposed journey. In verse four we’re informed that the metaphorical journey towards reconciliation can’t begin straightaway because of a further deterioration in the relationship, represented by an impending storm. His declaration in the same verse:

‘… I ain’t got any matches’

indicates that he has no resources of his own he can use to lighten the mood. Instead he needs to wait for a more propitious time. Unable to force the process artificially, he must wait for the natural light of morning.  He must wait, that is, until things have settled down before beginning the process of reconciliation. At the moment, metaphorically:

‘… the station doors are closed’

In the second verse the narrator refers to both light and the absence of light in a hopeless attempt to convince himself that despite the relationship’s having reached rock bottom, it’s about to improve:

‘They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn’

It’s hopeless because the word ‘darkest’ serves only to remind him of his misery – or what he calls the:

‘… darkness since you’ve been gone’

By the final verse the narrator no longer sees the sun as representing hope. As the evening sun sets, he’s overcome by pessimism. He compares it, and implicitly his hopes, to a sinking ship. And a ship, once sunk, will be sunk forever.


The Rooster

By the third verse we’re able to appreciate how deep-seated the narrator’s pessimism is. He hears a rooster crowing and jumps to put a negative interpretation on it:

‘… there must be something on his mind
Well, I feel just like that rooster’

Since roosters traditionally crow at dawn, one would have expected the narrator to interpret the crowing here as auspicious. That would be behaviour consistent with his previous willingness to see even the ‘darkest hour’ in a favourable light. Instead he decides to exploit it as a way of providing bogus support for the complaint which follows:

‘Honey, ya treat me so unkind’

Support for his complaint derives from a piece of specious and ultimately circular reasoning which, though not explicitly given, can be reconstructed as follows. First, he assumes that because he is unhappy, so must the rooster be. Secondly, he assumes that the cause of the rooster’s unhappiness must have been unkind treatment. Thirdly he assumes that if the rooster has been treated unkindly, then so must he have been. Having so ‘proved’ that he has been treated unkindly, he sets out to use this as ammunition against his lover.

The rooster episode, then, not only reinforces in the listener’s mind how unhappy the narrator is, but shows up weaknesses in the narrator’s character – weaknesses of which he seems unaware.


Betrayal

The narrator’s wilful misinterpretation of the crowing is not its only significance. A rooster’s crowing inevitably invites one to think of Peter’s three-fold betrayal of Christ.3 It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that there’s another allusion to betrayal – this time Judas’ – in the final verse:

‘… you kissed my lips’4

The lover seems to be being compared with both Peter and Judas and, if justified, that comparison would put the narrator in the position of Christ. However, if the narrator does indeed have the Judas kiss in mind, it’s significant that he doesn’t take into account a crucial difference between it and his lover’s. Whereas Judas’ kiss was a formal greeting, the woman kissed the narrator on the lips. From this we can assume that not only is she not guilty of betrayal but, on the contrary, she is attempting lovingly to restore the relationship.

It’s because he misinterprets the kiss as one of betrayal that at the end of the song the narrator is left in despair.


The Sun

It’s particularly ironic that the narrator should twice mistakenly have portrayed himself as Christ, for there is in the final verse a wholly appropriate reference to Christ which goes unnoticed by the narrator.

The allusion becomes apparent in the final verse when the narrator says:

‘Look at the sun …’

It’s natural to associate ‘sun’ with Son’, yet the narrator himself doesn’t make the connection. Instead, and more bizarrely, he associates the sun with a sinking ship. As a result he’s too ready to accept that his happiness, which the sun represents, is not only gone, but gone forever.  Had he made the connection with ‘Son’, he’d have been more sanguine. In other words, if the sun had reminded him of the Son rather than a ship, he’d have had no reason to suppose its sinking, and therefore the demise of his hopes, to be anything other than temporary.

There is an interesting structural comparison to be made between the narrator’s use of simile in this verse and his use of it in verse three. Just as in verse three he’d made a false comparison between the rooster’s feelings and his own feelings, on the basis of a false attribution of mental turmoil to the rooster, so here he makes a false comparison between the sun and his heart, on the basis of a false attribution to the sun of a ship-like quality. Just as in verse three the narrator displays a propensity to indulge in specious reasoning, so does he here, and in the same way. But whereas in verse three it was the woman who suffered as a result, here it’s the narrator who suffers.


Love

Only on the surface is this a traditional love song. It’s much more a study of a complex character. Nevertheless, it is about love too. This becomes particularly apparent in

verse five where the narrator attempts both to impress and blackmail his lover. After listing a number of trials he claims to have gone though, he ends with:

‘Honey, you know I’ve earned your love’

That he has earned her love is in fact unlikely to be true for two reasons. First, love, real love, is not earnt but given freely. And secondly, the things he claims to have done are unlikely in any case to have impressed her as having earned her love. The things he’s claiming to have done – in particular ‘struggled through barbed wire’ and ‘outrun the hound dogs’ – aren’t the sorts of things one might do for someone else. When one escapes and makes an effort to avoid recapture, one is primarily acting in one’s own interests, not someone else’s. One can assume from this that the narrator has done nothing to deserve the woman’s love, and that – desperate to show otherwise – he resorts to citing things he knows to be irrelevant.

That the woman has a much clearer understanding of love than the narrator is evident from her kiss. She doesn’t need him to have earned her love. Nevertheless, even if the kiss is the result of genuine love, there still may be some credit due to the narrator. Though we don’t know why he’s ‘struggled through barbed wire’,’ and ‘outrun the hound dogs’, these at least suggests he’s not inactive and is prepared to take risks. He may not have earned the woman’s love, but by this activity he might at least have triggered it.


Conclusion

The song is primarily a character study showing the gradual development of the narrator’s psychology. In particular it shows the part played by a range of personal qualities, positive and negative, in his battle to resolve an emotional predicament.  Sadly his positive qualities – optimism, energy, empathy, and inventiveness – are either misdirected, rendered impotent, or simply outweighed by the negative. Too inclined towards  pessimism, resentfulness, egotism and deviousness, the narrator seems increasingly incapable of resolving his predicament. By the end, despite bouts of forlorn hope, he seems resigned to failure.

But the song is about love too, and the role of love in reviving the relationship. It’s about the narrator’s own deficient understanding of love versus the woman’s. The narrator thinks love is consistent with complaining, criticism, pleading, and even blackmail. But the woman’s love is different –  a simple love, manifested by a kiss. And despite the narrator’s machinations and depth of emotion taking up most of song, it’s her love represented in a single line which both literally and metaphorically has the last word. If the relationship is to be saved, it’ll be through her love rather than his.

 

  1. As will become apparent, it’s not necessarily the case that we have the narrator’s own words so much as an abstract representation of them.
  2. The fictional writer and the actual writer may coincide. The concept of fictional writer can be useful though if one wants to attribute a view to the writer (as distinct from the narrator), but without necessarily attributing it to the actual, real-life writer.
  3. “I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “tonight-before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times!” (Matt 26.34)
  4. So he went right up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. (Matt 26.47-8)

 

 

 

 

You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Introduction

At first this would seem like a simple love song. It is a love song, but more than a simple one. Although it’s about a relationship, it’s also about love more generally as is made clear by the opening line:

‘I’ve seen love go by my door’

It’s love the narrator’s seen, as distinct from a lover. A feature of the song which marks it out from others in the genre is that it charts the development of the narrator’s understanding of love. We’re told, in monologue form, what his experience of love used to be, what it is now, and the very different way in which it might continue.

I’ll be assuming the lover is female, although there’s no specific indication that this is so, and the Verlaine/Rimbaud comparison in the fifth verse might well be thought to suggest otherwise. Another reason for considering the lover to be male is the narrator’s self-obsession. His lover is male in that the lover is himself, thus rendering the relationship an auto-erotic, homosexual one. This would fit with his being both shooter and target (see below). It would also fit with his giving himself ‘a good talkin’ to’ in verse six.


The Title

Our immediate impression is that the narrator is regretting the imminent breakup of a relationship. His complaint throughout the song is:

‘You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go’

It’s worse than just a break up, however. The narrator is better seen as anticipating his lover’s death. It’s for that reason he doesn’t accompany her, despite being prepared to travel thousands of miles in the hope of finding her. The song is about the development of his love in the knowledge that she is going to be gone completely.


Nature

For the majority of the song the narrator’s attitude to love is presented through his response to nature. The first natural image he uses is dismal:

‘Dragon clouds so high above’

Clouds often represent gloom, but when qualified by ‘dragon’, the suggestion is one of menace. The clouds are not being seen in their true state, but as dangerous. Yet for that very reason the dragon image seems inappropriate. The narrator is seeing danger where there either is none, or should be none.1 The fact that the clouds are ‘high above’ suggests his judgment is erroneous since high clouds are always innocuous. Furthermore if it’s ‘careless love’ he’s comparing them to, then the fact that this is described as hitting him ‘from below‘, suggests that the cloud image is inapt.

The narrator is happy to see the passing of what he calls careless love. At this later stage, we’re to believe, Cupid has got it right. He’s:

‘Right on target, so direct’

From this point positive natural images abound, beginning with:

‘Purple clover, Queen Anne’s lace
Crimson hair across your face’

– the red and white of the Queen Anne’s lace reminding the narrator of his loved one’s hair contrasting with her face.

In verse five the images, though still positive, start to become absurd, however:

‘Flowers on the hillside, bloomin’ crazy
Crickets talkin’ back and forth in rhyme’

‘Crazy’ seems more appropriate as a description of the narrator for using the term in connection with flowers, than it does for describing the flowers themselves. The term may have occurred to him because, perhaps unconsciously, he really sees it as applying to his lover. It’s also the case that the description of crickets is highly idealised. Not only can they can hardly be said to rhyme, but since only the males ‘talk’ (or chirp, by rubbing their wings), there couldn’t be a reciprocal, two-way, male/female conversation.

In so far as the descriptions might be representative of the relationship, then, they might seem to represent the narrator’s unconscious or suppressed idea about it. On this view, he’s presenting his lover as crazy and, unlike real crickets, quarrelsome – the ‘back and forth’ nature of their conversation representing disagreement. Although he’s no longer indulging in ‘careless love’, the love that’s replaced it would seem still to be wanting.

The final natural image in verse five:

‘Blue river runnin’ slow and lazy’

also seems idealistic. Some, but not all, rivers are blue. And while ‘slow’ has already been used to describe his love, his willingness to use ‘lazy’ might be an indication of the narrator’s own outlook rather than the approach required for a successful relationship. The oxymoronic ‘runnin’ slow’ might reflect the conflicting responses to the passing of time which the narrator alludes to when he says, ‘I could stay with you forever and never realise the time’.


Pantheism

The final stage in the narrator’s developing attitude to love comes in the final verse.

The following lines again involve references to nature, but the descriptions are no longer outlandish. They seem to have a refreshing honesty about them. And it’s here we realise that the lover’s leaving might be a matter of her death:

‘But I’ll see you in the sky above
In the tall grass, in the ones I love’

Love is again associated with the sky, but just ‘the sky above’ – heaven – and no longer dragons and clouds. ‘Grass’ is qualified, but by a simple epithet ‘tall’. ‘Tall’ and ‘high’ both suggest superiority, and contrast with his having previously been hit from ‘below’. And whereas earlier when he’d seen his lover, he’d been reminded of nature – purple clover and Queen Anne’s Lace – now it’s the other way around. When he sees nature he’s reminded of her. He sees her in nature.

But not only that. Nature now becomes extended to include people – ‘the ones I love’.

The last verse began on a note of hopelessness, the narrator having accepted that the lover is leaving and vowing to undertake the presumably hopeless task of finding her in:

‘… old Honolulu,
San Francisco, Ashtabula’

 – remote, apparently unconnected, and (in the last case) pretty unheard-of places. At the moment he expects to find her in the people he loves, but if that’s possible the further possibility is opened up of his finding her in people generally, wherever they are. And that therefore includes not just the American inhabitants of the three places mentioned, but those who gave these places their names – the Polynesians of ‘old Honolulu’, the Spanish who originally colonised San Francisco, and the Lenape who for centuries lived in Ashtabula. It’s the diversity of the people with whom the different places are associated which links them. The narrator will be finding his lover in the ones he loves in the sense that he’ll be finding her qualities in everyone. He’ll have acquired an all-embracing love.

The narrator began by describing love as having:

‘… never been this close before’

Ironically love ends up at its closest when his lover is imagined to be discoverable in one of the three remote places.

By the end of the song the narrator has started to see his love not just as a woman, but in pantheistic terms – as the Ideal expressed in nature. This explains his implied distinction between the absent lover and ‘the ones I love’. She is now being considered as on another plain to the ones he loves.


Prefiguring

This transformation of his idea of the lover into an idea of the Ideal, or God, is prefigured in a number of ways.

First, there’s the line:

‘Crimson hair across your face’

This may be the lover’s actual hair being compared with the Queen Anne’s lace, but it might also be taken more literally. If the narrator is taken to be addressing nature, then ‘your face’ will be the face of the earth, and Queen Anne’s lace will be the earth’s hair. Even at this early stage the narrator is beginning to equate the lover and nature – nature personalised with a face and hair.

That the hair is described as crimson (rather than, say, auburn) is significant. Crimson is the colour of fresh blood, and so the lover is the possessor of blood that’s been shed. The letters of ‘cross’ in the word ‘across’ help confirm that both she and nature are being identified with Christ. She is Christ in that she’s his potential saviour in enabling him to see what love really involves.

Another way the transformation is prefigured is in the line:

‘I could stay with you forever and never realise the time’

While on a literal level the narrator is simply claiming he’d be so overwhelmed by his lover’s presence he’d not notice time passing, there seems here to be an intimation of an eternal existence in ‘forever’. The line represents an advance on:

‘This time around it’s more correct’

– ‘this time around’ suggesting a need to escape from a temporal cycle of endless repetition.


Shooting

The narrator makes the passing comment that he’s:

‘Been shooting in the dark too long’

Of course, whatever other connotations the phrase might have, he means this as an allusion to his attempts to find love. He sees himself as Cupid shooting an arrow, and so as firing it at himself. One significance of this is that it’s an indication of his self-obsession. It’s also an indication of incompetence:

‘It’s always hit me from below’.

This incompetence in love is taken up in verse five by an explicit reference to the progenitors of French symbolist poetry, Verlaine and Rimbaud. Verlaine famously shot Rimbaud, not out of love, but in a jealous rage. Like the narrator, he more or less missed, hitting Rimbaud in the wrist. The narrator’s attempts at love are like those of Verlaine and Rimbaud, not just in the shooting but in the storminess and perhaps inappropriateness of his relationships (the ‘talkin’ back and forth’) which comparison with theirs implies. Despite the selfish motivation of each marksman, there’s a difference however. Whereas Verlaine was aiming to kill someone else, the narrator’s shooting does not involve violence (unlike his counterpart’s in Idiot Wind**).


Developing attitude towards love

The narrator’s progress towards a fuller understanding of love is reflected in the different ways the word ‘love’ is used. The word itself is used four times, each time in a different sense. In the opening line:

‘I’ve seen love go by my door’,

the abstract noun ‘love’ represents love generally, but does so by presenting it in concrete form as something ideal which has literally by-passed the narrator. But when the narrator goes on to declare:

‘I’ve only known careless love’,

he’s no longer referring to ideal love, but to an inadequate substitute.

By contrast with these uses, when he says:

‘You might be spoilin’ me too much, love’,

he’s using the term as a mode of address. And finally, in:

‘… the ones I love’

it’s a verb used to represent moral commitment.

These different uses of ‘love’ parallel the development of the narrator’s attitude. The first three show him in a negative light. He starts with regret that his past romantic experiences have been unsatisfactory, while exulting in his present relationship. He then lets us know, via the epithet ‘careless’, that his approach hitherto has been uncommitted and irresponsible. There’s no self-reproach; the term ‘careless love’ seems chosen to represent his own experience to date as something comparable with, albeit slightly inferior to, the real thing. One gets the impression he sees being uncommitted and irresponsible as just one of those unfortunate things which happen. He’s unaware there might be a causal connection between genuine love having by-passed him, on the one hand, and his acceptance of so-called careless love, on the other.

The use of ‘love’ in:

‘You might be spoilin’ me too much, love’

is presumably intended to suggest affection. Instead it seems to indicate no more than a presumption that the woman is his. It seems shallow, and in keeping with the maudlin tone of the line in which it appears. The word refers to the woman; it picks her out like a sort of pointer, but there’s little indication that the connotations of the word are uppermost in the narrator’s mind as he uses it. Since he refers to her hair as ‘crimson’, which might even suggest he sees her as a whore, and  two verses later he’s able to somewhat disparagingly characterise the relationship as ‘this affair’, it’s clear that his understanding of love is far from ideal.

The final use is different. He’s moved from sexual love (eros) to selfless love (agape). The fact that he sees the woman in the ones he loves suggest that his attitude to her has become appreciative of her qualities.

The change of attitude indicated in this final use of ‘love’ is prefigured in the resolution he refers to at the end of the penultimate verse. Whereas the narrator had referred to crickets ‘talkin’ back and forth’, by the end of this verse he’s ready to:

‘… give myself a good talkin’ to’

If the crickets talking was in part a sub-conscious reference to altercations between the woman and himself, then the narrator can now be seen as substituting self-admonishment for criticism of her. It is in keeping with this that the lines about seeing her in the sky, the tall grass and other people appear more distant and reverential. The contrast between the use of ‘love’ here and in the third mention, the apostrophising her as ‘love’, is huge.


Right

The development of the narrator’s understanding of love is also reflected in his comments involving the word ‘right’. In the first verse, the narrator condemns his previous approach, saying:

‘When something’s not right it’s wrong’

In doing so he seems to be trying to justify his present change of tack by saying something no-one could really object to, instead of risking saying something meaningful. On the surface ‘not right’ means ‘wrong’ so to that extent he’s come up with no more than a tautology.

But is he even right when he says that when something’s not right, it’s wrong’? He himself seems implicitly to cast doubt on this in the very next verse. Here he refers to the arrow as:

Right on target …’

Since by the end of the song the narrator’s understanding of love has changed markedly, this would suggest that the arrow was not right on target, earlier on, because it had stimulated a self-centred, patronising approach to love. Furthermore, the narrator seems to appreciate this when he qualifies the love that he’s now experiencing as:

‘… more correct’

If it’s only more correct, though partially right, it can’t have been right on target. At this stage, it would seem, the narrator has reached a mid-way position in his understanding of love. He has moved from ‘careless love’ to an appreciation of his lover’s qualities, but is still far from the very different understanding of love, which he’s closing in on in the final verse.

In terms of right and wrong, the narrator has moved from a simplistic understanding of these to one which recognises that neither is an absolute.


Conclusion

The development in the narrator’s attitude to love is matched by the development in his attitude to loneliness. Throughout the song, the narrator claims he’s going to become lonely when his lover goes. Only gradually do we realise that this going is her dying. Despite this, by the end he’s gone some way towards coming to terms with it:

‘You’re gonna have to leave me now, I know’,

He’s come to accept that in physical terms he can’t keep her. This knowledge represents an advance on his only previous claim to knowledge, knowledge of careless love which even he found unsatisfactory.

By the end, though, he’s also learnt to see that in some sense she won’t have departed. Her qualities are everywhere.  Despite his still repeating in the last line:

‘You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go’

there’s a sense in which he’s not actually going to be lonesome when she goes. That he says he is, is the result of an unresolved conflict in his mind. He’s yet to fully appreciate that the object of love, whose death he’s now accepted, is the same as the object of love whose existence he expects to find everywhere. Whether he will – and indeed whether it is – is left undecided.

 

  1. It’s plausible that the dragon clouds represent suicidal thoughts. In verse six the narrator castigates himself for ‘stayin’ behind without you’. Choosing to join the lover would be a matter of choosing to die.
  2. There are a number of points of comparison between this song and Idiot Wind. Some of these are as follows:
    First, whereas here love goes past the narrator’s door, in the earlier song the narrator himself would ‘crawl’ past the wife’s door. The effect is to emphasise the distinction between love as it should be and, in that song, the narrator’s guilt-ridden love.
    Secondly, the narrators in each song use shooting as a means of acquiring love. The  gunman in Idiot Wind acts as a foil for the present narrator whose shooting is utterly benign.
    Thirdly, in both songs the narrators are at some point inactive, whereas the wife and the lover are active. The present narrator’s inactivity causes his ‘stayin’ far behind’.  Only once his life has ceased to be represented by the ‘slow’ and ‘lazy’ river’, and he determines to search for her, does he look like achieving success.
    Finally, in both songs the object of the narrator’s love can be seen to have physically died, but to have continued to exist in a ubiquitous, eternal sense. And they are each  associated with the saving power of Christ.