I know many fans consider Blood On The Tracks Bob Dylan’s best album. It’s certainly a contender. The latest poll of Dylan’s album, in the January 2007 issue of Mojo magazine, has Blood On The Tracks at number 3 in a countdown of the top 50 Dylan albums, after Blonde On Blonde (no.1) and Highway 61 Revisited (no.2). I wouldn’t argue with that – any other views?
3 responses to “Blood On The Tracks – Dylan’s Best Album?”
I took the lower road as usual and looked up what it says about Blood on the Tracks in the Rough Guide to Bob Dylan. Do the biographical details matter? Probably not, but I was surprised to learn – perhaps I am the only person who didn’t know this – that far from being dumped by Sara (cf. you’re a big girl now, etc) actually our Bob did the dumping and that most of the songs about loss on BT are more like projections of what our Bob did to his wife than reflections of his own experience. I am probably shallow (art is supposedly above mere biography etc) but this made me think that poor miserable Bob was a bit of a sneaky snake really, not for doing what he did (that’s his business) but for trying to make us pity him for it… More seriously perhaps, it raises the thought that what could be called the creativity of loss (so much creative activity is tied to loss as we all know) is often about working through guilt rather than pain. I’m not sure if this is interesting or not, or maybe just obvious. It might be connected to the fact that – a different sort of loss – when someone dies we are often – usually unconsciously – angry with them (for leaving us etc), which in turn can make us feel guilty too; and to the perhaps more troubling fact that there is ambivalence at the heart of love; a very common feeling, actually, when you love someone (especially platonic forms of love, friendship etc which are often based on kinds of rivalry) – that you also wish them dead on occasion (if figuratively, i.e. you wish to conquer them etc) which can make us feel bad when they er um do actually die the bastards… I’m not sure if we could think of Lycidas or In Memoriam in this sort of way at all, probably not. I don’t know. Lycidas: he dies and Milton turns him into a great lost poet when apparantly he was fairly rubbish; so a cynic might say it’s all about Milton fantasizing about himself rather than mourning Lycidas as such etc etc – that’s not necessarily to diss Milton. All creativity is opportunistic, even violent in a way. And why, anyway, shouldn’t mourning always entail an element of self-fantasy and self-aggrandisement.? Interesting that both Lycidas and In Memoriam were crucial turning points in the poetic careers of both Milton and Tennyson… it might be tempting to invoke notions of sacrifice at this point, but I will stop and have another aspirin. A question though. Is there a difference in kind as opposed to degree between lost love and lost friendship?
Maybe… I like Infidels and Oh Mercy too…
Tom Osborne: How do you know Dylan did the dumping?
Let’s take the last quote in his song “Sara” for example: “Sara, Sara, don’t ever leave me, don’t ever go.” Doesn’t that seem like she’s leaving him? But we don’t have to know this. It’s his very personal life. The human curiosity is endless.
Anyway. Blood on The Tracks is Bob Dylan’s best album ever. In fact, it’s the best album ever made.
Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 are great, too. But Blood on The Tracks is one level above everything else. Anyone with a heart and a brain can tell that.
It’s about life. Simple as that. Any life can fit into that piece of art.