With the title of the album ‘Blood on the Tracks’, could Dylan have created a metaphor for love lost and the past pain it provoked? With almost a harpsichord staccato, the chords come through on ‘Tangled Up in Blue’. Dylan, familiar with getting involved in relationships, follows a familiar theme in that five of the ten songs refer to love. Half of the album.
Much has been said of the making of this album; this is a review solely of it as a masterpiece. ‘Simple Twist of Fate’ follows suit in the track listing with a narrative about a missed connection. Likely on the end referring to his break up and subsequent divorce with his wife at the time Sara.
The most seething track on the album, ‘Idiot Wind’ speaks for itself. The most caustic and impassioned version on his live album, ‘Hard Rain’. ‘Hard Rain’ will be a later review and the only live album of his I will address secondary to its performance and energy.
‘Meet Me in the Morning’, a robust blues tune and a song of infatuation and interest to a lover not mentioned in the five other love songs. ‘Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts’ bears a western vibe, a dirt road town, recently settled and run by a tycoon. Later this baron was pen-knifed in the back by Lily. Other then suicide, Dylan does not mention all the bad things she’s done although her murderous nature and her infidelity rank high. What of the man called the Jack of hearts? Well, he skips the dead end town when Lily is on the gallows.
Notice, all tracks on the album have been mentioned so far? This is because they are all so wonderful. A huge departure in content from the loose and free vibe of ‘Planet Waves’. Jacob Dylan once referred to ‘Blood on the Tracks’ in fact as, “his parents talking to each other”. Yes, it is truly a deeply personal recording.
In the interest of time and the readers’ attention I’ll jump around from here. ‘If You See Her Say Hello’, the weakest track on the album, I shamefully skip frequently. Finalizing the review, ‘Shelter From the Storm’ speaks of just that. The emotional insulation of a relationship, what I mean to say is protection. The storm? Well that is the blood on the tracks.
As said, ‘Blood on the Tracks’ is in fact a masterpiece. Some note it as Dylan’s best album; I understand that. Play it today; note the harpsichord sound on ‘Tangled’ the nasty vocals and lyrics of ‘Idiot’ (it’s no wonder that you still know how to breathe). Enjoy.
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