Song 5 - Cold Irons Bound.

BY MIKE JOHNSON

Another song off the seminal 1997 Time Out of Mind album, and this song is a winner of a Grammy award. I never much liked it because the clashing guitar seemed to overwhelm Dylan’s voice and create a mashed effect. Here, in this relentless 2009 performance, the music is stripped down to a single sinister, pulsing beat. It’s a prison song, but what is the prison?

The winds in Chicago are tearing me to shreds

Reality as always has too many heads

Incidentally, I don’t think it’s always correct to assume the ‘you’ of a Dylan song is a woman. Here, the woman is referred to as ‘she’. ‘You’ could be God, or Christ, or his audience or all or none of those. Indeterminate pronouns have been a feature of Dylan’s art from early on. Note some lines are cut out of the performance version.

Next week: On the desperate edge, Can’t Wait.

Cold Irons Bound:

I’m beginning to hear voices and there’s no one around
Well, I’m all used up and the fields have turned brown
I went to church on Sunday and she passed by
My love for her is taking such a long time to die

I’m waist deep, waist deep in the mist
It’s almost like, almost like I don’t exist
I’m twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound

The walls of pride are high and wide
Can’t see over to the other side
It’s such a sad thing to see beauty decay
It’s sadder still to feel your heart torn away

One look at you and I’m out of control
Like the universe has swallowed me whole
I’m twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound

There’s too many people, too many to recall
I thought some of ’m were friends of mine, I was wrong about ’m all
Well, the road is rocky and the hillside’s mud
Up over my head nothing but clouds of blood

I found my world, found my world in you
But your love just hasn’t proved true
I’m twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound
Twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound

Oh, the winds in Chicago have torn me to shreds
Reality has always had too many heads
Some things last longer than you think they will
There are some kind of things you can never kill

It’s you and you only I been thinking about
But you can’t see in and it’s hard lookin’ out
I’m twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound

Well the fat’s in the fire and the water’s in the tank
The whiskey’s in the jar and the money’s in the bank
I tried to love and protect you because I cared
I’m gonna remember forever the joy that we shared

Looking at you and I’m on my bended knee
You have no idea what you do to me
I’m twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound
Twenty miles out of town in cold irons bound