This tune appears on the LP, Planet Waves, one of several albums released by David Geffen's Elektra Records, as Dylan and his original (and subsequent) label, Columbia, fought over his next recording contract. Planet Waves is an often overlooked album, but it's one of my favorites.
On this track, as on the entire release, Dylan is backed musically by his frequent collaborators, the Band. The arrangement they created together is memorable without overcoming the lyrics' stark play for hope in the midst of despair. I love the muted staccato lead guitar that somehow manages to soar at the end of the song. (For a far headier understanding of the song, go here.)