Tight connection to my heart

By Tony Attwood

It is not my job to summarize the commentaries from elsewhere about how this song has been re-written using lines from classic movies.  Larry Fyffe on this site does it far better than I ever could.  The question that I start from is, is it a good song, and has it benefited from its borrowings from the movies?

And opinion here is divided.  Is there anything at all worth keeping here?  Or is it a great song that has benefited from the re-working.

The first problem is that this is most clearly a Dylan Song of Disdain, and as such it has to compete with some of the greatest pieces from the Dylan catalogue, not least Rolling Stone and 4th Street.  Compare “You’ve got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend” and “Once upon a time you dressed so fine” with…

Well, I had to move fast
And I couldn’t with you around my neck
I said I’d send for you and I did
What did you expect?

It would take a brave critic to suggest those four lines have anything of value to add to the oeuvre of disdain that Dylan created.  OK he’s getting out, just like he did on “One too many mornings” and “One of us must know” but this adds precious little if anything.

The plodding music – a song without any melody – it just doesn’t have anything to get it going.  Triteness is the word that springs to mind…

I’m gonna get my coat
I feel the breath of a storm
There’s something I’ve got to do tonight
You go inside and stay warm

Given that the chorus doesn’t have anything to say

Has anybody seen my love
Has anybody seen my love
Has anybody seen my love
I don’t know
Has anybody seen my love?

we are pretty much left on our own. it is hard to imagine it can get any worse but then we have not yet come to

In a town without pity
Where the water runs deep

Just in case it is not your area of interest, Town Without Pity was a 1961 movie in which American soldiers are accused of rape.

The only line that leaps out to me is “There ain’t nothin’ worth stealin’ in here” but nothing is done with it at all.

We plod on and get to the Memphis in June reference and then things get very strange.

There’s just a hot-blooded singer
Singing “Memphis in June”
While they’re beatin’ the devil out of a guy
Who’s wearing a powder-blue wig
Later he’ll be shot
For resisting arrest

Suddenly we are in a very different place – the freak show of much earlier Dylan epics in which strange characters crawl in and out of the woodwork for no particular reason other than the heightening of the surreal effect.  The trouble is that although the above section is utterly surreal in the manner of 115th dream but without the laughs, the music is still anything but surreal.  It doesn’t matter that none of it makes sense if some of it is interesting, but nothing is.  Not the music not the lyrics.

And then everything is thrown away with
Close up ain’t never that big

There’s the “I can’t be a Christian” final section and its all over.  The only thing left to sort is that utterly curious reference to Memphis in June which is an extraordinarily meandering piece by Hoagy Carmichel.  .

Dylan has his thing about Memphis.   Highway 61 (the blues Highway) runs through Memphis, he had the Memphis blues in the references to the WC Handy festival in Mobile… but this is a different Memphis.  This is Memphis as paradise.

Memphis in June
A shade veranda under Sunday blue sky
Memphis in June
And my cousin Miranda she’s making a blueberry pie

So for me nothing works.  The lines from the movies, the lack of melody, the accompaniment, the backing girls who suddenly are given an “Oh,,….” for no particular reason save that they had some “Oh” on tape… the Memphis stuff which is irrelevant to Dylan’s past and the Blues Highway.

But most of all, Dylan’s songs of disdain work.  This doesn’t for me.  Not one bit.


Untold Dylan: who we are what we do

Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.

We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers.  Sadly no one gets paid, but if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics who teach English literature.  If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a Word file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a subject line saying that it is for publication on Untold Dylan.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with approaching 6000 active members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.  Not every index is complete but I do my best.

But what is complete is our index to all the 604 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found, on the A to Z page.  I’m proud of that; no one else has found that many songs with that much information.  Elsewhere the songs are indexed by theme and by the date of composition. See for example Bob Dylan year by year.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Tight connection to my heart

  1. Emily says:

    First off- a caveat: this is my favorite Dylan song of all time, so I’m biased. Here’s why I love it… I think the overall theme is one or idealized (or archetypal?), and therefore doomed, love a mad and pointless world (“has anyone seen my love?” “I dunno” the backup singers respond). So it’s the strife between the fantasy and the reality. Mademe Butterfly was a doomed heroine, “what looks large from a distance, closed up ain’t never that big” is, in my mind, another reference to reality versus ideals. Even the film references could allude to preconceived notions of the perfect loves portrayed onscreen and how real relationships can never hold up to these popular-culture stories.
    Plus is song is a bit of a rework of the song “Someone’s Got a Hold of my Heart” on the Bootleg Series Vol 3 album: this version has no backup singers and seems more clearly a comparison between a real life relationship and our ideas of what love should be. This is how I see this song, and I think the beauty of Dylan are the multiple interpretations. So thank you for your analysis! 🙂

  2. Tom Palaima says:

    The supper Club versions of this song are magnificent. Far from lacking melody, Dylan shows an orchestral feel with a small band that is now heard in full glory on Shadows in the Night. Emily is right on target.

    The street violence visited on the man with a powder blue wig is hardly a freak show out-of-place insertion. It is the realie of life in places like NOLA and Memphis and LA, when people investigated gender roles in that period. The chorus “has anybody seen my love?” is a question we all ask eventually. Not only what is love, but where is it in particular especially if attached to a particular person.

  3. English Bob says:

    First of all, looks like like no one has been here for over a year, so this reply has a message in a bottle and toss it in the sea quality about it. So, greetings dear reader of the distant future…….
    I like this song and always have since it came out. After reading all the previous information on “TCTMH” it was mind blowing. I am just just a regular schmoe and have always used movie dialogue out of context in applicable situations. The wife thought I was so clever until she figured this out. Too late, we were married by then. “What looks large from a distance, close up ain’t never that big..” is my favorite phrase because I drive a tugboat for a living doing ship assists on vessels that now sometimes can be up to 1250 feet long. These are real monsters and can be intimidating. However, “Close up, they ain’ never that big”…can be a mantra of comfort when tackling these beasts. This is what this Dylan song means to me. So the my take on all this is it is fascinating the knowledge people share about this song and they know much more about it than I but somehow it is like enjoying a most delicious dish without knowing the ingredients. Enjoy!!!

  4. TonyAttwood says:

    English Bob, when you say no one has been here, I am not sure what you mean. The site is updated every 2 or 3 days, and the last update date is shown on the home page with details of the latest songs added. We’re getting just under half a million page views a year, but of course the vast majority of readers just like to read rather than post a comment.

  5. English Bob says:

    Dear Tony, Thanks for the swift reply. I guess I was reading the post dates from the previous messages and assumed the worst. It was like being lost on the foggy sea and calling out a “Ahoy! Is anyone there?” and you were kind enough to answer. This makes me think of scene in the 1962 movie “Lawrence of Arabia” when Peter O’Toole is riding through a canyon full of of echoes singing “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” and the British officer he is supposed hears him singing and begins a slow measured clapping. I think my favorite line from this movie is when Peter O’Toole is asked something like why he is not more of a success he replies, “We can’t all be lion tamers.” I wonder if Bob Dylan would think this line would be worthy to mention in a song such as “TCTMH”? Anyhow, thanks again for replying to my post.
    I wish you all the best for 2017 and look forward to future contributions from those who enjoy the works Bob Dylan. ~English Bob

  6. Peter Guglietta says:

    This happens to be one of the most unjustly maligned songs in Dylan’s cannon. Not everything can be “Like a Rolling Stone” and some of the criticism of this song stems from a collection of jealous individuals who are frustrated musicians and songwriters who couldn’t write a toothpaste jingle. So they hold up the real talent to ridicule just because Dylan used lines from Bogart movies. Such lame criticism. When you come down to it, everything rolls back to Chuck Berry anyway, and everyone……from Dylan, The Beatles, The Stones, and countless others, all borrowed from Chuck in some way. Dylan is one of the few willing to admit it.

    Rock on Bob, now and forever. Ignore the self-important dweebs who think they know your music better than you do. They got a lot of nerve……

  7. English Bob says:

    Dear Peter,
    Your kind words were like my previous lost on a foggy sea situation and you went above and beyond by answering “Ahoy, to you too!” and then tossing over a hawser and towing me through “wicked waters and life’s marauders” (Beach Boy’s “Sail on Sailor”)to a safe habour.
    Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven”…The energy of this song….This will dispell all the naysayers with the surgically precise lyric, “Early in the morning, I’m giving you a warning, DON”T YOU STEP ON MY BLUE SUEDE SHOES!” Better than brandishing a blunderbuss at Black Beard! Yo Ho!
    As for Borgart’s movies, my favorite is “The Caine Mutiny”, based on the Herman Wouk novel , as I have a bit of nautical bias. After viewing this movie you will have the compulsion to speak in a Captain Queeg like manner and end every sentence you speak with ‘Kay…
    And now, back to Robert Allen Zimmerman, Nobel Prize winner 2016. “TCTMH” is greater than the sum of it’s parts. So thank you Emily, Tom, Tony, and especially Peter for sharing our ideas. You are all greater than the sum of these posts about a Dylan song. …English Bob

  8. Babette says:

    It is same meaning as Joe Cocker sings about in Unchain my heart.

    Analyze the colors and patterns of their jackets and t-shirts in this video. Every color and patern of the jackets means something. Patterns means something related to feelings beeing imprisoned. Every color is an emotion.

    But maybe only a woman can se that the outfit is not normal.

  9. English Bob says:

    Babette..So right indeed… The color aspect never even occurred to me..true meaning of the word enLIGHTenment…I had to watch TCTMH several more times and once more for fun but I SEE what you mean…Outstanding inSIGHT!…Thanks for the compass heading to steer towards Joe Cocker…Such original style…brings out the movie buff reflex and I think of his duet theme song, “Up Where We Belong” theme to Debra Winger and Richard Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman” …could go on for hours but just a brief tidbit..on the tugboat I work on we go past the film sites near Port Townsend, WA fom time to time..I thought me missus sorta looks like Debra…As for for me, Pierce Bronsan( gone to seed)..But anyhow, I am now headed off to youtube to enjoy your provided links…

  10. English Bob says:

    Hello It’s me….again….sorta of like that old TV commercial where the chap opens his bathroom medicene cabinet and there’s another chap on the other side who says..”Hi, Guy!” and the he exsasperates, “Mona!!!!”… Here is a Dylanesque moment from the past I like to share, sorta about TCTMH but more “Like a Rolling Stone”. Many Christmas Pasts ago I was taking youngest daughter out shopping ( Sidetrack: Anyone remember “Out With Mummy” in the Teddy Bear comicbook), about age five back then. and as we entered the atrium of the shops the was a Salvation Army kettle in which I threw a few coins. My daughter then said outloud, “Huh!, toss the bums a dime.” Good Lord, already quoting Dylan…Yes, my wife used to think I sooo clever until she realized I was just quoting song lyrics out of context. I now am liking TCTMH even more. I’ll shut up now….

  11. Colin says:

    What do you think of the Sheila Atim version? Is it a bit more tuneful for you?

  12. Maggie says:

    Love, love, love the Sheila Atim version from Girl From The North Country. Brings tears to my eyes. Beautiful song.

  13. Larry fyffe says:

    In an episode of ‘Star Trek’ when Sulu asks ,”How far do we go along with this charade?”, Captain Kirk replies,”Until we can think our way out”.

    “I’ll go along with the charade
    Until I can think my way out”
    (Bob Dylan: Tight Connection To My Heart)

  14. Larry fyffe says:

    From the movie ‘Now And Forever”:

    “Close up they don’t look as large as they do from a distance”

  15. Larry fyffe says:

    From the movie ‘The Oklahoma Kid:

    (two speakers) ‘You want to talk to me’
    ‘Go ahead and talk’

    Tight Connection: ‘You want to talk to me
    Go ahead and talk’

  16. Rosalind says:

    Hello. I’ve come here because I was just listening to TCTMH and dancing around my kitchen while baking a cake. I’ve appreciated Dylan since young – I saw him here in Melbourne last month; last saw him live at Blackbushe in 1978.

    I hadn’t heard TCTMH in a while and was loving it, so I put my cake on hold and went to find the lyrics. That brought me here. I disagree with Tony Atwood’s description and opinion, but really enjoyed reading the comments that his review attracted.

    To me it’s a collage. And Dylan uses the lifted phrases to suggest scenes, so that the song becomes like a movie, suggests a story and dialogue- as we see in that wonderful video that Babette refers us to. Dylan likes narrative songs, like Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts. But the song, with it’s sardonic attitude, can fit other stories; it can be the story of a troubled relationship, a coherent love song.

    BTW, Babette, my mother was named Babette – lovely to see it again, and thanks for your links.

  17. Hello there, Thank you for posting this analysis of a song from Bob Dylan’s Music Box: http://thebobdylanproject.com/Song/id/673 Come and join us inside and listen to every song composed, recorded or performed by Bob Dylan, plus all the great covers streaming on YouTube, Spotify, Deezer and SoundCloud plus so much more… including this link.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *