Winterlude by Bob Dylan
From New Morning / 1970
I took the dogs out for their walk this morning, like I do every morning. We live near the ocean in the Northeast. There was a wicked wind blowin,’ the temperature was around ten degrees. There’s no cold wind like cold ocean wind, believe me – I’ve lived in New England all my life and I know. So the answer, my friend, was to let the dogs do their business and get back inside as soon as caninely possible. Which we did, after enough sniffing along the frigid ground to satisfy them both – our sweet Shepherd Husky mix and our crazy Black Lab.
We got back in and soon I was looking out at the snowy white breakers dotting the icy blue, windswept sea, safe in the warmth of the kitchen, a cup of coffee on the table and the dogs comfortably in the living
room chomping on their breakfast Milk Bones, I thought - this is a “Winterlude” day. At least from the inside, it was. I put the song on my Ipod player and set it for repeat.
“Winterlude” is an often overlooked song of Bob’s, a sweet little tune about being in a nice cozy relationship with someone you love in the middle of the winter. It’s in ¾ time, a lovely lazy waltz with playful, throw-away lyrics. “Winterlude, my little apple… winterlude by the corn in the field, winterlude, let’s go down to the chapel… then come back and cook up a meal…”
The instrumentation is simple – piano, bass, a little mandolin picking, some women’s voices cooing now and then. Dylan was married to
wife Sara at the time he recorded it, living in upstate New York, a family man with babies, relaxed, hiding from the world as much as
was possible for him. It was the period after his exhausting electric tour, when he would get booed every night as soon as band plugged
in. He then had his famous motorcycle accident (or maybe didn’t, depending on who you believe) and spent eight years away from live performing. After his frenetic whirlwind of creation and touring during ‘65 and ‘66, Bob spent some time settling down and discovering the simpler joys of home and hearth. He exudes a genuine sense of
comfort and peace in this song - there’s overwhelming contentment
in “Winterlude,” along with bits of beautifully rendered poetry couched in simple lines - “We’ll come out when the skating rink glistens by the sun and the old crossroads sign…”
The song is a wonderful vignette of wintertime that perfectly captures the singular pleasure of experiencing winter, then the reward - coming in to get warm again.
So, sitting in my comfortable home with the woman I love, the bright clear cold outside, I pick Bob Dylan's “Winterlude” to be the Muddy Water song of the day. “Winterlude it’s making me lazy, come sit by the logs in the fire.” Sounds just right.