Blood on the Tracks


Blood on the Tracks is my favorite Dylan album. This album was my initial introduction to the Dylan album as a novel repertoire. I had already listened to the early stuff and taken a ride on the Desire train with, “One More Cup of Coffee for the road and Hurricane.”


I was introduced to Blood on the Tracks in 1978 at the 9th-grade Dewitt Jr High library, Ithaca NY music room. Any opportunity, stolen moment, one could find me with a headset on listening to albums, 45s (yes I am dating myself). On more than one occasion I would utilize time allocated for lunch listening to Blood on the Tracks. This is an album one must listen to all the way through on multiple occasions to realize the desired effect. Here is what Jakob Dylan said about, Blood on the Tracks:

“I said, ‘Jakob, what goes through your mind when you listen to your father’s records? ‘ He said, ‘When I’m listening to ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues,’ I’m grooving along just like you. But when I’m listening to Blood on the Tracks, that’s about my parents. ‘ I never asked him again.”


“The writing is the source of the record’s power. It’s been a long time since Dylan has composed a melody line as perfectly suited to his voice as “Tangled Up in Blue,” and though the lyrics are both confessional and narrative, Dylan makes it all sound like a direct address. There are times when he sounds closer, more intimate and more real than anyone else.” (2)

(2) Blood on the Tracks Rolling Stone by Jon Landau

Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press.
Whoever it is, I wish they’d cut it out, but when they will I can only guess.

They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy.
She inherited a million bucks, and when she died it came to me.
I can’t help it if I’m lucky.

People see me all the time, and they just can’t remember how to act.
Their minds are filled with big ideas, images, and distorted facts.

And even you, yesterday, you had to ask me where it was at.
I can’t believe after all these years that you didn’t know me any better than that, sweet lady.

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth
Blowing down the back roads heading south.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot, babe, it’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe!

I threw the I Ching yesterday; it said there might be some thunder at the well.
Peace and Quiet are been avoiding me for so long it feels like living hell.

There’s a lone soldier on the hill, watching falling raindrops pour.
You’d never know it to look at him, but in the final shot he won the war,
After losing every battle

I woke up on the roadside, daydreaming about the way things sometimes are.
Hoofbeats pounding in my head, at break-neck speeds and making me see stars!

You hurt the ones that I love best and covered up the truth with lies.
One day you’ll be in the ditch, flies buzzing around your eyes; blood on your saddle.

Idiot wind; blowing through the flowers on your tomb.
Blowing through the curtains in your room.
Idiot wind; blowing every time you move your teeth.
You’re an idiot babe, it’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe

It was gravity which pulled us in, and destiny which broke us apart.
You tamed the lion in my cage, but it just wasn’t enough to change my heart.

Now everything’s a little upside-down. As a matter of fact, the wheels have stopped.
What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good. You’ll find out when you reach the top;
You’re on the bottom.

I noticed at the ceremony that you left all your bags behind.
The driver came in after you left; he gave them all to me, and then he resigned.

The priest wore black on the seventh day and waltzed around while the building burned.
You didn’t trust me for a minute, babe. I’ve never known the spring to turn so quickly into autumn

Idiot wind; blowing every time you move your jaw
From the Grand Cooley Dam to the Mardi Gras
Idiot wind; blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot babe. It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

We pushed each other a little too far, and one day it just jumped into a raging storm
The hound dog bayed behind your trees, while I was packing up my uniform.

I figured I’d lost you anyway; why go on? What’s the use?
In order to get in a word with you, I’d have had to come up with some kind of excuse.
And it just struck me kind of funny.

I’ve been double-crossed too much. At times I think I’ve lost my mind.
Ladykillers load dice on me behind my back while imitators steal me blind

You close your eyes and pout your lips and slip your fingers from your glove.
You can have the best there is, but it’s gonna cost you all your love.
You won’t get it from money.

Idiot wind; blowing through the buttons of our coats.
Blowing through the letters that we wrote.
Idiot wind; Blowing through the dust upon our shelves.
We’re idiots, babe. It’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves.

Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’
He was lyin’ in bed
Wondrin’ if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said their lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bankbook wasn’t big enough
And he was standin’ on the side of the road
Rain fallin’ on his shoes
Headin’ out for the old East Coast
Lord knows he’s paid some dues, gettin’ through
Tangled up in blue

She was married when they first met
Soon to be divorced
He helped her out of a jam I guess
But he used a little too much force
And they drove that car as far as they could
Abandoned it out west
And split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
And she turned around to look at him
As he was walkin’ away
She said, “This can’t be the end
We’ll meet on another day, on the avenue
Tangled up in blue.”

He had a job in the old north woods
Workin’ as a cook for a spell
But he never did like it all that much
And one day the axe just fell
When he drifted down to L.A
Where he reckoned to try his luck
Workin’ for a while in an airplane plant
Loadin’ cargo onto a truck
But all the while he was alone
The past was close behind
He seen a lot of women
But she never escaped his mind and he just grew
Tangled up in blue

She was workin’ in a topless place
I stopped in for a beer
I just kept lookin’ at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on, as the crowd thinned out
I’s about to do the same
She was standin’ there, in the back of my chair
Said, “Tell me, what’s your name?”
I muttered somethin’ underneath my breath
She studied the lines of my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe
Tangled up in blue

She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
“Thought you’d never say hello,” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And flowed like burning coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue

He was always in a hurry
Too busy or too stoned
And everything that she ever planned
Just had to be postponed
He thought they were successful
She thought they were blessed
With objects and material things
But I never was impressed
And when it all came crashin’ down
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was keep on keepin’ on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue

So now I’m goin’ back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are doctors’ wives
Don’t know how it all got started
Don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives
But me, I’m still on the road
Headin’ for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue


Buckets of rain
Buckets of tears
Got all them buckets comin’ out of my ears
Buckets of moonbeams in my hand
You got all the love
Honey baby, I can stand
I’ve been meek
And hard like an oak
I’ve seen pretty people disappear like smoke
Friends will arrive, friends will disappear
If you want me
Honey baby, I’ll be here
I like your smile
And your fingertips
Like the way that you move your hips
I like the cool way you look at me
Everything about you is bringing me misery
Little red wagon
Little red bike
I ain’t no monkey but I know what I like
I like the way you love me strong and slow
I’m takin’ you with me
Honey baby, when I go
Life is sad
Life is a bust
All ya can do is do what you must
You do what you must do and ya do it well
I’ll do it for you
Honey baby, can’t you tell?

CR’s Take

Score 77
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Bob Dylan 1976
Willowemoc Creek, New York, USA Published on July 6, 2020 SONY, ILCE-7M3 Free to use under the Unsplash License Walking through the woods (IG: @clay.banks)
Bob and Sara Dylan 2019


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