Meet Me at the Bottom, Meet me in the Morning
Howlin' Wolf certainly changed Bob Dylan's way of thinking about music. Importantly, Wolf's influence did not stop or begin with "Change my Way of Thinking".
Above, there's a video of Howlin' Wolf tearing down an old blues classic: "Meet Me at the Bottom". Beneath a layer of a groovy horn and slick drums, Wolf lays down a story of escape between guitar licks that sound like a soul yearning to be heard. The refrain here-meet me at the bottom-indicates the singer's desire for escape. When trains, planes, and automobiles are nowhere in sight, sometimes you have to strap on your running shoes and take to foot.
It's easy to imagine that Bob Dylan's "Meet me in the Morning" is based off this ancient blues track. Blood on the Tracks did explore love and isolation from about 19 different angles, and the walking blues is one of them. Bob's desire to meet on a street corner- 56 and Wabasha, reinforces this walkin' desire. Dylan goes on to imagine escape in places far away like Kansas, but he knows the winter is here to stay, as he laments and relives past grievances on the street corner of his own walking blues. While desperate, "Meet me in the Morning", much like "Meet Me at the Bottom", has a certain swagger to it, rendering that that yearning as something valuable and life affirming.
A little bit more about Bob and the walkin' blues comes from his 2012 interview with Rolling Stone:
"Time Out of Mind" started with this image of somebody walking through streets that are dead.
A lot of walking in that record, right? I've heard that.
When that narrator talks about walking this or that road, do you have pictures of those roads in your mind?
Yeah, but not in a specific kind of way. You can feel it, without being able to see it. It's an old-time thing: the walking blues.
The walking could be what somebody witnesses. It could be the road to death; it could be the road to illumination.
Sure, all those roads. How many roads must a man walk down? Not run down, drive down or crawl down? I've been raised on that. The walking blues. "Walking to New Orleans," "Cadillac Walk," "Hand Me Down My Walkin' Cane." It's the only way I know. It comes natural.
The person who's walking in these songs, is he walking alone?
Sometimes, but then again, sometimes not. Sometimes you got to get into your own space for a while. It never really dawns on me, though, whether I'm walking alone or not. Seems like I'm always walking with somebody.