Blood on the Tracks
Bob Dylan’s 15th studio album is one of great emotional weight. The beauty of this record is its offhand, shaky musical attitude: at roughly the 4:02 second mark in Tangled up in Blue, either the bassist or guitarist hits a wrong note. I always listen out for this moment, as to me it is one of the great affirmations of one of my essential rules of truly great popular music: Sometimes imperfections can create the greatest perfection of all. As the song gradually becomes more frantic and desperate, this accidental wrong note (spurred by that general attitude of despondent musical indiscriminacy that permeated the album’s recording) ends up carrying the greatest meaning.
Blood on the Tracks, though I rather dislike the angry, rambling Idiot Wind and Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, remains the most honest 51 minutes of Dylan on record. I must mention that the rest of the album is pure gold as well, and is music of unfathomably vivid, hypnotic and commanding lyrical and songwriting power. It is recorded and produced in such a way that gives a kind of murky, comforting background ambience: Listening to it on a rainy, winter evening in dim, warm light is among the most evocative experiences offered by any record.
Here’s Meet Me in the Morning; maybe the exemplar of this atmosphere I describe. Check out the magnificent solo of what I believe is a fuzzed-out pedal steel…