“Wind Blows on the Water” Bob Dylan’s incomplete song, and his fascination with the weather

By Tony Attwood

If you are a regular reader of this site you will know I have been meandering around the outtakes from Shot of Love, which can be found on the internet, and reviewing each one in turn.  Which does mean that on occasion we come across songs that are little more than simple ideas which are tried the once, and then abandoned.

And this is as basic as it can get – two chords repeated three times and then the dominant chord ready to make it happen again and again, and (if it comes down it) again.

There are some other words including “nobody knows” or maybe it is “where it goes nobody knows” but either way the song is not getting anywhere much by the time Bob, the band and the lady singers come to a conclusion and abandon it forever.

However that is not to say it is not promising.  With work it could get somewhere, because it does have a fascinating and compelling rhythm.

And it takes us back to the recent theme of Bob Dylan and water which was explored more fully in “On a Rocking Boat” and Dylan’s love of sailing



Indeed if you want to take this whole issue of Dylan and the elements further you might want to look at Larry’s article “Air/wind symbolism in the song lyrics of Bob Dylan”

And just because I am writing on this topic, you might also like to know that in 2015 the British newspaper the Daily Mail ran the headline on an article…

“Pop’s most weather-obsessed star? The answer is blowing in the wind”

They then claimed that “30 per cent of Bob Dylan’s 542 songs contain references to the climate” and that “Scientists from five leading universities collected the weather-related data” while noting that “Just 7 per cent of Rolling Stone magazine’s best songs mention weather”.

The article goes on to say

“Lead author Dr Sally Brown, from the University of Southampton, said: ‘We were all surprised how often weather is communicated in popular music, whether as a simple analogy or a major theme of a song, such as Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind or the Hollies’ Bus Stop, where a couple fall in love under an umbrella.’

“Sun and rain featured in 37 per cent of the references to weather, with wind in third place.

“The researchers found more extreme weather, such as tornadoes and blizzards, barely feature.    The researchers said they found the sun ‘portrayed positive feelings and is more likely to be in a major key, whereas rain could frame either good or bad emotions, so has a higher likelihood than sun of being in a minor or mixed key’.

“And many of the songs with secondary references in the database had little or nothing to do with the weather, such as Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, Daddy Cool by Boney M, and Benny and the Jets by Elton John.

“No one has taken nearly as much inspiration from the weather as Dylan or the Beatles, meaning there is not a number three, four or five in the list.  But other songwriters who refer to climate include Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen and the Beach Boys.”

So there we are.  I am now off to write a smash hit song about gale force winds blowing across the North Sea, which will perhaps rhyme with “bringing my baby back to me” suggesting that my darling is either a fisherwoman, or working on an oil rig (as opposed to working in a coal mine, going down down down).

Think there’s something missing or wrong with this review?

You are of course always welcome to write a comment below, but if you’d like to go further, you could write an alternative review – we’ve already published quite a few of these.  We try to avoid publishing reviews and comments that are rude or just criticisms of what is written elsewhere – but if you have a positive take on this song or any other Dylan song, and would like it considered for publication, please do email Tony@schools.co.uk

What else is on the site

1: 500+ reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order on the home page, and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.

2: The Chronology.  We’ve taken the songs we can find recordings of and put them in the order they were written (as far as possible) not in the order they appeared on albums.  The chronology is more or less complete and is now linked to all the reviews on the site.  We have also produced overviews of Dylan’s work year by year.     The index to the chronologies is here.

3: Bob Dylan’s themes.  We publish a wide range of articles about Bob Dylan and his compositions.  There is an index here.

4:   The Discussion Group    We now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

5:  Bob Dylan’s creativity.   We’re fascinated in taking the study of Dylan’s creative approach further.  The index is in Dylan’s Creativity.

6: You might also like: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines and our articles on various writers’ lists of Dylan’s ten greatest songs.

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews




  1. Dylan has fun with how to start and end a song, something like this:

    Wind blows
    Wind blows
    On the water
    Where it go
    Where it go
    Wind blows
    On the water
    Nobody know
    Where it go
    Diamond Joe
    Where it go
    Where does it stop
    Where did it stop
    Nobody know
    Where did it go
    Nobody know
    Where it go
    On the water

  2. One might say that the creative energy of Dylan (earth) endeavours to come up with a song where balanced is the power (water) of the music by a matching spirit (wind) in words, but that his desire (fire) to do so at this particular time is not burning hot enough.

  3. To run the metaphor into the ground – for earth to produce a diamond it must be under high temperature.

  4. Global warming?

    ‘High water everywhere.’
    ‘The air burns and I’m trying to think straight.’
    ‘It’s too hot to sleep, and time is slipping away.’
    ‘I think when my back was turned/the whole world behind me burned.’

  5. Where does it come
    Where did it come
    Nobody knows
    Where do it come
    Where it come
    Where does it come
    Nobody knows

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