I was tempted to go with a track from one of Dylan’s early albums — specifically The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan or Bringing it all Back Home — because those are the records I devoured as a young teenager first discovering the Bard.
Blood On the Tracks – Bob Dylan (1975)
I doubt this pick will come as a surprise to anybody, particularly given that Bob Dylan hasn’t placed another album on this list. The 70s wasn’t his most successful decade, but it produced what may well be his best album.
Blood On the Tracks is the quintessential break-up album, a poetic chronicle of a dissolving marriage that simultaneously feels deeply personal and profoundly universal.
Released in 1975, Bob Dylan’s Blood On the Tracks is the high point of an unparalleled career (one I’ve explored exhaustively over nearly a year’s worth of Bob Dylan weekends).
On tracks such as ‘Tangled Up in Blue,’ ‘You’re a Big Girl Now,’ ‘If You See Her, Say Hello’ and ‘Idiot Wind,’ Dylan explored the disintegration of his marriage through raw poetry and aching performances. Even the lighter, more romantic, songs — ‘Shelter from the Storm’ and ‘Buckets of Rain’ — are run through with sadness.
(On a side note, every time I write Dylan Six I’m reminded of the Dylan Four in Battlestar Galactica… the four crew members who discovered they were actually Cylons after being triggered by the words and music of ‘All Along the Watchtower.’ Geek detour concluded. We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.)
In 1975, nine years had passed since the release of Bob Dylan’s last undisputed masterpiece, Blonde on Blonde. During those nine years he had released seven studio albums, two greatest hits collections and a live album.
He had matched his pre-1966 output but it would be hard to argue that any of those seven albums were equal to his first seven. Could it be his best days were behind him?
The answer, which came in the form of Blood on the Tracks, was a resounding no.