From his underrated 1981 Shot of Love LP (the last in his so-called ‘born again’ trilogy), this, I reckon, is one of Dylan’s finest love songs. When you consider that the competition includes the likes of Sara, She Belongs To Me, To Ramona and Girl From The North Country, that’s really saying something.
What I love about Heart of Mine is that its sophistication is balanced perfectly with its simplicity. The whole business of having a conversation with your heart, for instance, is the kind of clever songwriting you might get from the likes of Cole Porter: as in the line “you can play with fire but you’ll get the bill”. But there are also straightforward cliches such as “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime” that lend it a more populist appeal. In essence then the lyrics are a fairly decent representation of how people feel when they’re in love: tied up with the magic and mystery of it all yet also as dumb as a brick when it comes to articulating how they feel.
This effect is carried through to the playing which is loose to the point of falling apart yet also, somehow, tight and focused. And above it all, there’s Dylan’s singing. He sounds (despite the cynicism towards, and the reluctance of listening to, his heart) as if he really means it. It’s almost as if he re-discovered that passion can be just as strong, if not stronger, when it’s a secular passion.