Heart Of Mine

Album: Shot Of Love (1981)

Songfacts®:

  • In the liner notes for Biograph (which consist of Dylan talking about his songs with Cameron Crowe), Dylan is quoted saying, "I had somebody specific in mind when I wrote ['Heart of Mine']; somebody who liked having me around." Nothing more's said of this in those notes or anywhere else, meaning Dylan has once again managed to inject an enduring mystery into one of his songs.

    On the most superficial level, "Heart of Mine" is a song about Dylan's complicated romantic feelings. He doesn't trust love or romance and is trying to talk his heart out of opening up to a woman.

    It'll only be trouble for you if you let her in
    Don't let her hear you want her
    Don't let her hear know she's so fine


    The sentiment in the song is not surprising coming from a guy who has been singing about betrayal and deception since the earliest stages of his career. Also per his style, "Heart of Mine" goes deeper than simple worldly romantic concerns.

    The song borrows from the Biblical book of Jeremiah (17:9), which reads:

    The heart is the most deceitful of thing, desperately sick; who can fathom it?

    The Biblical origin for the song should be expected, as "Heart of Mine" comes from the third (and final) album in Dylan's "Christian trilogy," which started with Slow Train Coming (1979) and was followed up by Saved (1980).

    With Shot Of Love, the final act, Dylan kept the gospel inspiration and themes but lyrically went back to the abstraction and mystery that made him famous. The songs are still heavy with Christian allusions, but they aren't for the most part quite as obvious or heavy handed as the songs from the first two efforts. You can see this not only in the lyrics for "Shot Of Love" but also the chill calypso beat and somewhat playful feel.
  • Ringo Starr came in to play drums on the song. Dylan was six hours late on the day they were supposed to record, so the band horsed around in his absence. They had trouble getting things going, so engineer Chuck Plotkin jumped on the set, mostly just messing around. As soon as Plotkin started playing, Starr, ever-humble despite his Beatles status, yelled, "There! That! That's the feel of this song! So you stay there, and I'll play the other ones!"
  • Dylan has said the song was attempted in many different guises.

    "['Heart of Mine'] was done in a bunch of different ways," he said, "but I chose for some reason a particularly funky version of that - and it's really scattered. It's not as good as some of the other versions, but I chose it because Ringo and Ronnie Wood played on it, and we did it in like ten minutes."

    By the time all was said and done, the song was mixed more than 70 times.
  • Donald "Duck" Dunn played bass on the song. He's well known for his work with Stax Records and Booker T. & the MG's.
  • The first time Dylan ever played this song live was in July 1981 at Earl's Court in London.
  • The only place this song charted was in Norway, where it made #8.

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