Bob Dylan's Love and Theft was seen my many critics to be harking back to the fun-filled, slightly idiosyncratic days of The Basement Tapes. While many of the songs on the album reflect this carefree, joyous approach, "High Water" is a song that is spectacularly at odds with that notion. Dylan dedicated this song to the great Delta bluesman Charley Patton and indeed certainly pays direct homage to his song "High Water" (in one of his interviews before Love and Theft was released, Dylan commented that if he could play music just for his own pleasure he'd only play Charley Patton songs). Written in the style of a gunfighter ballad, with the only prominent instrument being a banjo (expertly played by Dylan regular Larry Campbell), this song is one of the least accessible on the album, and also one of the best. Dylan as a lyricist has never been better, and who else in popular music could write lines like as haunting and dread-filled as "Big Joe Turner looking east and west from the dark room of his mind/Made it to Kansas City, 12th Street and Vine/Nothing standing there/High water everywhere"? A lyrical tour de force, it is the song on Love and Theft that sounds nothing like what Dylan has done in the past, yet sounds exactly like a Bob Dylan record. No doubt a major piece of work, it was apparently written quickly, with the finishing touches being put to the lyric just moments before recording. Anyone still doubting the caliber of Dylan's later work should listen to this song immediately.