“Caribbean Wind” is a song waiting for a cult, or rather waiting for an author like Dan Brown to use it as the text for his next cracking the ancient code suspense novel. It’s a mysterious song and the more it’s listened to the more haunting it gets, especially when his live versions change so much from the lyrics supplied on bobdylan.com (Dylan admits to there being at least 4 sets of lyrics for it). With John Milton (Paradise Lost), Dante (The Divine Comedy) and Jesus alluded to in the first verse it begins as a playground for symbology.
It consists of 6 verses with a chorus sung 3 times. The rhyme scheme is consistent throughout: aabccb. And there are some clever rhymes in it, e.g. comedy/embassy, pawn/wore on, snare/there, report/short.
Such structure and rhyming comes from an inspired mind, or at least a determined one. Dylan himself said that the song was born out of inspiration (are any songs not?), but that with this one the inspiration waned:
“Some times you’ll write something to be very inspired, and you won’t quite finish it for one reason or another. Then you’ll go back and try and pick it up, and the inspiration is just gone. . . . The inspiration’s gone and you can’t remember why you started it in the first place” (footnote in Christopher Ricks’ Dylan’s Visions of Sin 433).
The song is out of Dylan’s own grasp as well: “That one I couldn’t quite grasp what it was about after I finished it.” The poetic form and rhymes are within our grasp and certainly his though, and maybe there’s more there to grasp than Dylan’s letting on. Was he being purposely dismissive about it to keep attention away from it?
I like thinking so. It just adds to the song’s aura, its mystery, its “beware all you who enter” here vibes. Or is it more personal than Dylan feels comfortable admitting? It was after all selected for Biograph. With all the “you” references in the quote above maybe the “she” in the song is Dylan. Just a theory. It’s a song begging for theories, pleading for meaning, pleading for someone to enter deep within it beyond the iron gates that protect it.
Here’s the one from Biograph.