I can remember well the day I bought Shot of Love as a teenager. It was an odd album to new Dylan fans who came to him because he converted publicly to Christianity and made two gospel albums, and even won a Grammy in the process. I loved Bob Dylan from the time I was a little kid and was taught Blowing in the Wind in elementary school, and was soon off on my own to discover the other sides of him. My family members were not fans, so I had to listen quietly.
I dabbled around the church. as he did those same years. It was my early/mid teens and it gave me some wisdom I still keep, and it gave me a respite from a very difficult life at home.
It also gave me a place to sing, and play guitar from time to time, thought the teen preacher guy would not let me play often, saying I had "stars in my eyes and will end up like his brother-in-law," who was still chasing the dream in his 30s and playing in biker bars and whatever shady clubs he could.
Well that preacher did not really understand where I was coming from or the importance music held in me. I wasn't interested in stardom and fame, I was interested in escaping poverty and a rough upbringing. Music was my ticket out. I stayed around the scene about as long as Bob seemed to, and when this half-gospel but half not album came about, I got where Bob was coming from. I was ready to leave the fan club too, keep what was good from the red letters, and join him again on his next chapter, Infidels.
I loved this song then, and I love it now. I had wanted to record it for years, but had some false starts. I really wanted to do it with Noah Wall, from The Barefoot Movement, because she has such a tender, angelic voice when she wants to use it that way, though she can surely belt, too. By coincidence, the producer of Shot of Love for Dylan had recently produced The Barefoot Movement's latest album. Cool. I love serendipity.
I finally was messing around with it to this drum loop and came up with an arrangement I liked, and of course, sent it straight away to Joe who picked up immediately one what to do to make those drums a "real boy."
I played the Fender Bass VI on it, having enjoying watching The Beatles documentary seeing both John and George playing it, and thought it would be nice to play some chords and bass runs together on it. It was. I sent it to Phil with my vocal, bass, guitar, and Noah's vocal on it was added. Finally, off to Scott Guberman, who always knows how to bring the Hammond to church. I love the way they all contributed to it. This was the second song I brought to Phil to play on, and he sent me his parts while I was stuck in a snowstorm in Cleveland, Ohio, so I spent hours in my hotel room with Pro Tools open.
When Bob came though Nashville and played the Roman Auditorium, he closed with Every Grain of Sand. That felt good.
In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There's a dying voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair
Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment, I can see the master's hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
And the sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay
I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey, I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand
I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer's dream, in the chill of a wintery light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face
I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, at times it's only me
I'm hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand
Words and Music by Bob Dylan
Special Rider Music, Universal Tunes
Used by Permission
from Lay It All Down,
released October 7, 2022
Mike Lawson - Guitar, Fender Bass VI, Vocals
Noah Wall - Backing Vocals
Scott Guberman - Hammond organ
Phil Keaggy - Guitars
Mike Lawson has, over 30 years, recorded and/or performed together with Merl Saunders, Vince Welnick, Vassar Clements, Pete
Sears, Gary Talley, John McEuen, Bob Welch, Dennis Robbins, Joe Louis Walker, Jorma Kaukonen, Phil Keaggy, Jack Casady, Scott Guberman, Dianne Davidson, Noah Wall, Tyra Juliette, Bill Vitt, Rob Wasserman, Michael Cleveland, Phil Madeira, and a host of other amazing friends....more