By Tony Attwood
The operator of a loom takes a multitude of threads and weaves them together in a strong but endlessly pliable piece of clothing.
A storyteller presents an idea, and then another and another, and waves them together in something that mimics life, but isn’t life.
The three spinners in Norse mythology sit and weave the lives of all mortals and create their fate – and fate is inexorable.
The loom, in short is a symbol of anything and everything that is woven together. And out of this weave comes … whatever you want or if you are a Viking, whatever is deemed your life to come. We all it a rich tapestry sometimes, or consider it woven on a golden loom. It is life.
The violin plays, the band plays a lilting rhythm, for the most part built around two chords, just tripping us up at the end of each verse, as a wave comes in and crashes on the shore, taking us up the chords in the penultimate line (Moonlight on the water)
It is all so calm and rested
Smoky autumn night, stars up in the sky
I see the sailin’ boats across the bay go by
Eucalyptus trees hang above the street
And then I turn my head, for you’re approachin’ me
Moonlight on the water, fisherman’s daughter, floatin’ in to my room
With a golden loom
She’s there, all is beautiful, there’s a sudden storm, and she’s gone, but the golden memory is still there
First we wash our feet near the immortal shrine
And then our shadows meet and then we drink the wine
I see the hungry clouds up above your face
And then the tears roll down, what a bitter taste
And then you drift away on a summer’s day where the wildflowers bloom
With your golden loom
And then have the harmonica and violin break that seems to be the heart of the matter, bringing together the man and woman, and pushes them apart. He’s alone. He still sees the sights, but its just passing cars, until she appears again.
I walk across the bridge in the dismal light
Where all the cars are stripped between the gates of night
I see the trembling lion with the lotus flower tail
And then I kiss your lips as I lift your veil
But you’re gone and then all I seem to recall is the smell of perfume
And your golden loom
Until she’s gone again, but the stories that she wove are still here.
The one recording that we have of this song was made on 30 July 30 1975, with some of the musicians from Rolling Thunder Revue. Much of Desire was recorded in this session – and “Golden Loom.”
The song didn’t make the album, which is sad, as it is a beautiful relaxing piece. Thank goodness then for the preservation of out takes.
The version isn’t perfect – the musicians speed up slightly during the performing, but we can live with that. The painted imagery from the song is perfect – note the resonance of the double bass. You’d never get that with an electric bass.
It is suggested in some quarters that this song somehow slipped away from Dylan in the recording. Not for me. I can play it over and over, and relax into the rhythm of the waves breaking on the shore.