I recently did a post on the top ten recordings I would take with me if I were stranded on a desert island. This album missed that list, but just barely. The only American record of the past thirty-five years better than Blood On The Tracks is Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run. The interesting thing about Blood On The Tracks is that, on the eve the record was due, Dylan tossed months worth of tapes in the trash, went in to the studio with his band, and recorded the record pretty much live and in one take. At least that is the myth. Rather than a carefully crafted product, Dylan trashed it all and gave us this record that, for all that it has no weak tracks, and some soaring moments of real triumphs, contains one song that is transcendent. With little rehearsal. And in, at most, a couple passes on each song.
First, I love this little tune, "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go":
I don't know who "Idiot Wind" is directed at. Whether it's a personal take on some incident in his life, transformed into myth, or an allegory for how stupid some music critics are (my own opinion is that it is the latter), I think the chorus sums up so much of the right in this country (Idiot wind, blowing every time you open your mouth;. . . You're an idiot, babe, it's a wonder you still know how to breathe):
Finally, "Shelter From The Storm" is one of those songs that is so personal, I wonder how Dylan had the strength not only to compose it, but the courage to perform it. Having said that, on multiple listenings, I now believe it to be Dylan recounting his experience with music, and how fame came with the package; yet, as always, it was music that gives him shelter. Even if that is so, consider how completely exposed Dylan is here. He sings for five minutes about his own weaknesses, his losses, his fears, and there is a "she" who will shelter him. No matter how you interpret this song (and I don't think there is a "correct" interpretation) . . . Damn, this is a beautiful song.