Orteza, continued: "But just who is St. Catherine? It depends. There are at least six by that name in the Catholic Church alone. My guess is St. Catherine of Alexandria, about whom the Catholic Encyclopedia says, 'far from forsaking her Faith, effected so many conversions, [and] was condemned to die on the wheel, but, at her touch, this instrument of torture was miraculously destroyed.' I mean, if this wheel was destroyed because it was on fire...."
Arsenio Orteza: "Speaking of Oh Mercy, this simple piano-and-eerie-organ hymn distills that album’s ghost-whispering-into-the-night gestalt at least as potently as “What Good Am I” (the acknowledged tour-de-force of his current Duke Robillard tour). Addressed to “ye heathen” (like Infidels?) and alluding to the “bride” (the term for the Church in Dylan’s favorite biblical book, Revelation) for the first time since “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” eight years earlier, the song urges quasimodos everywhere to get over the hump and sound the alarm. “Sacred cow[s],” widows, orphans, lilies arrayed finer than Solomon, “sweet Martha” (who, unlike her sister Mary, “was worried and upset about many things” [Luke 10]), sheep in need of a Shepherd, the “chosen few,” a God who is one--biblical archetypes abound."
I like the spare arrangement with just a piano and great emotion in his delivery. That brief, dramatic pause: "Ring them bells...for the blind and the deaf" is powerful. The Supper Club performance is good as well, from a time when Dylan could still cut it live.