November 3, New York: There’s an awful lot of Bob Dylan out there. I’ve listened to much of it, all the folk into the rock into what came later like “Hurricane”. And I figured there were two ways I could re-approach Bobby D in this project— I could either try to listen to all of it again (and there is so much of it) or I could pick one album that was emblematic of them all. The one that meant the most to me. The one album I had on vinyl, from my Dad’s collection, with “DJF” scrawled over the cover in black sharpie. That album is Blood on the Tracks.
I’ve re-approached this album a hundred times in my life, and you know what? It’s got everything you want from a Bob Dylan record. There is your true Bob Dylan poetic story-telling like “Tangled up in Blue” and “Shelter from the Storm”. There are the sweet little love songs like “Simple Twist of Fate” and “You’re Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go”. There’s even a highly judgmental little ditty in “Idiot Wind”. And the whole thing is shot through with country themes, so you don’t feel like your terribly missing out on Nashville Skyline (though you are missing out on Johnny Cash).
I even really love “Jack of Hearts”. Despite its repetitive sing-song story-telling, it’s always been one of my favorite songs on this album. There have been multiple times I’ve circled around the character of the Jack of Hearts, in narrative as a tarot card or as a raconteur, or in personality as a time-limited affectation in the years in which I was “living my age”.
I would argue that Blood on the Tracks is the perfect desert island Bob Dylan album. It’s got all you need.
Planning your desert island excursion? Buy Blood on the Tracks, and feel confident you’re getting a pretty solid Dylan experience.