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
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.