Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, 1975
“Everyone one of them words rang true/and glowed like burning coal/pouring off of every page/ like it was written in my soul from me to you” (Tangled Up in Blue)
I can answer the “what’s your favorite album” question (if anyone really asks that question of normal people that aren’t famous musicians) without any hesitation. It’s a forgone conclusion that it would have to be Bob Dylan record, and Blood on the Tracks, to me, stands out amongst Dylan’s many other great albums. I know it’s Bob’s “break up album”, but that doesn’t really concern me. To me, it’s Bob’s most vulnerable recording. I don’t care if they’re all autobiographical songs, or all based on stories by Chekov (like Bob would later claim), but there is something so relatable and heart breaking to most of the songs on this album. I think it’s Dylan wrestling with his own mortality, the fact that time passes and things change, whether we like them or not. Sure, ten years previously, Dylan wrote “the times they are a-changin’”, but that was a broad sense of time, of a new generation (of which he was a part) gaining the ascendency. But in songs like “You’re A Big Girl Now” Dylan sings, “time is a jet plane/it moves too fast/oh but what a shame that all we shared can’t last/I can change I swear”. It is a mournful recognition of the passage of time.
It’s hard for me to pick out stand out tracks on this album, because the order in which they are played contributes so much to the atmosphere of the album. Has there ever been a better opening four songs than Tangled up in Blue, Simple Twist of Fate, You’re A Big Girl Now, and Idiot Wind? But for me, the two songs I could listen to forever are Simple Twist of Fate (my all-time favorite song) and Shelter From the Storm. Maybe I connect more with their resigned, introspective flavor vs. the vindictive and angry (but still amazing) Idiot Wind or the film-like Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts.
Dylan singing a slightly different than the album version of Simple Twist of Fate
Shelter from the Storm from the Hard Rain Concert