Bob Dylan ‘Blood On The Tracks’

Posted 25 Sep 2019 in 70s, Albums of 1975, Albums of the 70s

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#1034 in the Series)  is Bob Dylan’s 1975 release, Blood On The Tracks.

A lot of people tell me that they really enjoy that album. It’s hard for me to relate to that, you know. I mean, people enjoying that type of pain ?” – Bob Dylan.

It’s one of the most famous quotes in rock music history and he was referring, of course, to people’s reaction to “Blood On The Tracks,” not only his own personal best album but one of the greatest ever made, by anyone. Bob being Bob though, he also came out later and denied that the songs on the album were based on his own life, marriage or experiences in any way, indeed he claimed they were inspired by a book of short stories he had been reading at the time by Anton Chekov.

I don’t think many people swallowed that one mind you!

No need, I’m sure you’d agree, for a brief historical detour here. It’s Bob Dylan we’re talking about after all. Everyone knows who he is , what he’d achieved and how much of a legend he’d become even by 1975, the year of this album’s release. He was treated like a God by the counter-culture, attracting quite a few over-zealous fanatics, his every move studied, his every record forensically analysed. One particular loonjob even used to go though his garbage cans on a regular basis. Releasing an album of such raw and emotional, scathing and deeply personal (seemingly!) songs certainly wasn’t going to change that. Not even for a second. Indeed, the opposite was true. What this album did, after fans had taken time to digest the contents, was inspire MORE speculation, conjecture and questions. People were desperate to know just who and what the songs were about, which probably explains the Chekov line.
Speaking for myself, a man who only heard it about 15 years after release and who sits listening to it now on a gloriously sunny afternoon, I honestly couldn’t care. All I know, all i NEED to know, is that it’s a majestic album, full of wonderful songs, dazzling wordplay and intense vocal deliveries. The material stands on it’s own, regardless of whether the characters within were real or imagined and that’s good enough for me.

In early 1974, Bob Dylan was in a strange kind of a place, with things going fairly good on one level (his career) and sliding away in the opposite direction on another (his personal life). His 1973 album Planet Waves, while no classic, had been well received, compared to his output of the three years previous it stood up well enough (strange nowadays to reflect that in the early 70’s many thought that Dylan may well have been a spent force, his best work behind him, he soon proved them wrong).

That album had been recorded with his old sparring partners The Band with whom he subsequently embarked on his first tour in 7 years, an event which seems to have contributed towards some friction in his relationship with wife Sara. Indeed, by Spring 1974 they were estranged, Sara stayed at home in California whilst Dylan headed East back to some old familiar territory: New York City.

This separation and the influence of Norman Raeben, a painter and artist with whom he studied that summer, appear to have been two of the major events which kick started one of the greatest periods of his whole career, events which started with the writing of some superb, brutally honest, songs which formed the basis of Blood On The Tracks, his REAL return to top form.

It’s an album which has aged well, and it contains some of his greatest ever songs, you can choose your own, but I would suggest ” If You See Her Say Hello,” “Idiot Wind” and “Tangled Up In Blue” as high watermarks here . From here the great man went on to another couple of fine albums namely Desire and Street Legal and some highly regarded live tours, before plunging headfirst into his now infamous Gospel years . That’s for another time however , for now, play Blood On The Tracks and enjoy the pain all over again.

-Stephen Dalrymple

Personnel

  • Bob Dylan – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Organ, Mandolin
  • Billy Peterson – Bass (Minneapolis Sessions)
  • Eric Weissberg – Banjo, Guitar (NYC Sessions)
  • Tony Brown – Bass (NYC Sessions)
  • Charles Brown, III – Guitar (NYC Sessions)
  • Bill Berg – Drums (Minneapolis Sessions)
  • Buddy Cage – Steel guitar (NYC Session)
  • Barry Kornfeld – Guitar (NYC Sessions)
  • Richard Crooks – Drums (NYC Sessions)
  • Paul Griffin – Organ, Keyboards (NYC Sessions)
  • Gregg Inhofer – Keyboards (Minneapolis Sessions)
  • Thomas McFaul – Keyboards (NYC Sessions)
  • Chris Weber – Guitar, 12 String Guitar (Minneapolis Sessions)
  • Kevin Odegard – Guitar (Minneapolis Sessions)
  • Peter Ostroushko – Mandolin (Minneapolis Sessions)

Track listing

All songs written by Bob Dylan.

Side one

  1. “Tangled Up in Blue” – 5:42 (Sound 80 Studio – Minneapolis, MN – 12/30/74)
  2. “Simple Twist of Fate” – 4:19 (A & R Studios – New York, NY – 9/19/74)
  3. “You’re a Big Girl Now” – 4:36 (Sound 80 Studio – Minneapolis, MN – 12/27/74)
  4. “Idiot Wind” – 7:48 (Sound 80 Studio – Minneapolis, MN – 12/27/74)
  5. “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” – 2:55 (A & R Studios – New York, NY – 9/17/74)

Side two

  1. “Meet Me in the Morning” – 4:22 (A & R Studios – New York, NY – 9/16/74)
  2. “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” – 8:51 (Sound 80 Studio – Minneapolis,MN – 12/30/74)
  3. “If You See Her, Say Hello” – 4:49 (Sound 80 Studio – Minneapolis, MN – 12/30/74)
  4. “Shelter from the Storm” – 5:02 (A & R Studios – New York, NY – 9/17/74)
  5. “Buckets of Rain” – 3:22 (A & R Studios – New York, NY – 9/19/74)

Posted by Larry Carta


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