Blood on the Tracks

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Blood on the Tracks
A drawing of Dylan's face in profile facing a purple stripe with the album's name in white
Studio album by Bob Dylan
Released January 20, 1975 (1975-01-20)
Recorded September 16–19, 1974, at A&R Recording in New York, New York and December 27–30, 1974, at Sound 80 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Genre Folk rock
Length 51:42
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan chronology
Before the Flood
(with The Band)
(1974)
Blood on the Tracks
(1975)
The Basement Tapes
(with The Band)
(1975)
Singles from Blood on the Tracks
  1. "Tangled Up in Blue"
    Released: January 17, 1975 (1975-01-17)

Blood on the Tracks is the fifteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on January 20, 1975 on Columbia Records. The album marked Dylan's return to Columbia after a two-album stint with Asylum Records. Most of the lyrics on the album revolve around heartache, anger, and loneliness.

The album, which followed on the resurgence of critical acclaim for Dylan's work after Planet Waves, was greeted enthusiastically by fans and critics. In the years following its release it has come to be regarded as one of his best albums; it is common for subsequent records to be labeled his "best since Blood on the Tracks."[1][2][3][4] It is also commonly seen as a standard for confessional singer-songwriter albums; though Dylan has denied that the songs are autobiographical, his son Jakob Dylan has stated: "The songs are my parents talking."[5] In 2003, the album was ranked number 16 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and in 2004, it was placed at number 5 on Pitchfork Media's list of the top 100 albums of the 1970s.[6]

The album reached #1 on the Billboard 200 charts and #4 on the UK Albums Chart. The single "Tangled Up in Blue" peaked at #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The album remains one of Dylan's best-selling studio releases, with a double-platinum US certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[7]

Recording[edit]

Pre-production[edit]

Prior to recording, and while details regarding his return to Columbia Records were being negotiated, Dylan previewed the songs that would make up Blood on the Tracks to a number of friends and peers in the music world. According to biographer Jimmy McDonough, Dylan visited Neil Young in his home in Florida to showcase the songs on the album and seek out Young's opinion, and even run through some of the songs with Young's group Crazy Horse.[8] Dylan also previewed the songs to David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Tim Drummond, and Peter Rowan.[9] Nash recalled that Stills disliked Dylan's private performance of his new songs: immediately after Dylan left the room, Stills remarked to Nash, "He's a good songwriter...but he's no musician."[9]

Initially, Dylan considered recording Blood on the Tracks with an electric backing group, and even contacted guitarist Mike Bloomfield who had worked with him on Highway 61 Revisited. The two met, and Dylan showcased the songs he was planning to record, but he played them too quickly for Bloomfield to learn.[10] Bloomfield later recalled the experience: "They all began to sound the same to me; they were all in the same key; they were all long. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life. He was sort of pissed off that I didn't pick it up". In the end, Dylan rejected the idea of recording the album with a band, and instead substituted stripped-down acoustic arrangements for all of his songs.[10]

Recording sessions[edit]

Dylan arrived at Columbia Records' A&R Recording Studios in New York City on September 16, 1974, where it was soon realized that he was taking a "spontaneous" approach to recording.[10] The session engineer at the time, Phil Ramone, later said that he would "go from one song to another like a medley. Sometimes he will have several bars, and in the next version, he will change his mind about how many bars there should be in between a verse. Or eliminate a verse. Or add a chorus when you don't expect". Eric Weissberg and his band, Deliverance, originally recruited as session men, were rejected after two days of recording because they could not keep up with Dylan's pace.[10] Dylan retained bassist Tony Brown from the band, and soon added organist Paul Griffin (who had also worked on Highway 61 Revisited) and steel guitarist Buddy Cage.[10] After ten days[10] and four sessions[11] with the current lineup, Dylan had finished recording and mixing, and, by November, had cut a test pressing on the album. Columbia soon began to prepare for the album's imminent release, but, two months later, just before the scheduled launch, Dylan re-recorded several songs at the last minute, in Minneapolis' Sound 80 Studios, utilizing local musicians organized by his brother, David Zimmerman.[10] Even with this setback, Columbia managed to release Blood on the Tracks on January 17, 1975.

Notes[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Q 5/5 stars[12]
Allmusic 5/5 stars[13]
Rolling Stone (positive)[14]
Robert Christgau A[15]
Pop Matters (favorable)[16]
BBC Music (favorable)[17]

The songs that make up Blood on the Tracks are seen by most Dylan biographers as having been inspired by his personal turmoil at the time, particularly his separation from his then-wife Sara Dylan.[18] However, Dylan has never said as much, and in his 2004 memoir, Chronicles, Vol. 1, he stated that the songs have nothing to do with his own personal life, and that they were inspired by the short stories of Anton Chekhov.[19]

Dylan's fans theorize endlessly about his reasons for revamping the album, with one unconfirmed view being that the musical feel of the album had been monotonous, with too many songs in the same key and the same languid rhythm. It has also been said that, just two weeks before the release of Blood on the Tracks, Dylan played an acetate disc pressing of the record for his brother, whose ensuing comments led Dylan to re-cut five of the songs.[20] Although the original test pressing is widely bootlegged, only one of the five original takes from it has seen official release ("You're a Big Girl Now", released on 1985's Biograph). Alternate takes of "Tangled Up in Blue", "Idiot Wind", and "If You See Her, Say Hello" from the same sessions were released on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1–3, which also includes "Call Letter Blues", an outtake. "Up to Me", another outtake from these sessions, was released on Biograph. "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" is the only song from the New York sessions that has not been officially released.

Told of the album's lasting popularity, Dylan was later to say (in a radio interview by Mary Travers): "A lot of people tell me they enjoy that album. It's hard for me to relate to that. I mean, it, you know, people enjoying that type of pain, you know?" When speaking as to how the album seems to speak of the artist's own personal pain, Dylan replied that he didn't write "confessional songs".[10]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Bob Dylan. 

Side one
No. Title Recorded Length
1. "Tangled Up in Blue"   December 30, 1974 at Sound 80 in Minneapolis, Minnesota 5:42
2. "Simple Twist of Fate"   September 19, 1974 at A&R Recording in New York, New York 4:19
3. "You're a Big Girl Now"   December 27, 1974 at Sound 80 in Minneapolis, Minnesota 4:36
4. "Idiot Wind"   December 27, 1974 at Sound 80 in Minneapolis, Minnesota 7:48
5. "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go"   September 17, 1974 at A&R Recording in New York, New York 2:55
Side two
No. Title Recorded Length
6. "Meet Me in the Morning"   September 16, 1974 at A&R Recording in New York, New York 4:22
7. "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts"   December 30, 1974 at Sound 80 in Minneapolis, Minnesota 8:51
8. "If You See Her, Say Hello"   December 30, 1974 at Sound 80 in Minneapolis, Minnesota 4:49
9. "Shelter from the Storm"   September 17, 1974 at A&R Recording in New York, New York 5:02
10. "Buckets of Rain"   September 19, 1974 at A&R Recording in New York, New York 3:22
Total length:
51:42

Personnel[edit]

All personnel credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[21]

Additional musicians
Technical personnel

Chart positions[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  • A ^ Denotes personnel performing at the Minneapolis recording sessions.
  • B ^ Denotes personnel performing at the New York recording sessions.
References
  1. ^ Rosen, Jody (August 30, 2006). "Bob Dylan's Make-Out Album". Slate. Retrieved March 22, 2007. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 1998). "Not Dead Yet". Spin. Retrieved March 22, 2007. 
  3. ^ Lankford, Ronnie D. (March 27, 2003). "Tangled Up in Contentment: Bob Dylan in Love". PopMatters.com. Retrieved March 22, 2007. 
  4. ^ Connelly, Christopher (November 24, 1983). "Bob Dylan: Infidels – Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 22, 2007. 
  5. ^ Howard Sounes (2002-04-03). Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. Random House. p. 333. ISBN 978-0-552-99929-8. 
  6. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork Media. June 23, 2004. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. November 1, 2003. Retrieved March 22, 2007. 
  8. ^ "Shakey: Neil Young's Biography" by Jimmy McDonough
  9. ^ a b A Simple Twist of Fate: Bob Dylan and the Making of Blood on the Tracks by Andy Gill and Kevin Odegard. 2005. P. 42.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Williamson, Nigel (2004). The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan. London: Rough Guides. pp. 111–113. ISBN 1-84353-139-9. 
  11. ^ Bjorner, 1974 On the Road Again: Calendar Bjorner's As the Years Passed the Door. Retrieved September 3, 2010
  12. ^ Q (magazine) review
  13. ^ Allmusic review
  14. ^ Rolling Stone review
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 27, 1975). "Consumer Guide (52)". The Village Voice (New York: VV Publishing Corporation). Retrieved 2012-09-03. 
  16. ^ Pop Matters review
  17. ^ BBC Music review
  18. ^ Andy Gill; Kevin Odegard (2005-03-01). A Simple Twist Of Fate: Bob Dylan and the Making of Blood On the Tracks. Da Capo Press. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-306-81413-6. 
  19. ^ "All Things Reconsidered: The 35th Anniversary of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks". PopMatters. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  20. ^ Salon | Sharps and Flats
  21. ^ Blood on the Tracks (LP). Bob Dylan. Columbia Records. 1975. PC 33235. 
  22. ^ "RPM Top Albums – April 05 1975". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks". dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks". charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks". norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  26. ^ "1975–03–01 Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive". The Official Charts Company. 
  27. ^ a b Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan: Awards at AllMusic. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  28. ^ "Discography Bob Dylan". irish-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks". Music Canada. 
  30. ^ "British album certifications – Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Blood on the Tracks in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  31. ^ "American album certifications – Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]

Preceded by
AWB by Average White Band
Billboard 200 number-one album
March 1–14, 1975
Succeeded by
Have You Never Been Mellow by Olivia Newton-John