Blood On The Tracks –
Dylan’s masterpiece in blue
By Jochen Markhorst
Independently Published – £10.74
When I listen to Blood On The Tracks, that’s about my parents.
(Jakob Dylan, ‘Idiot Wind’)
Dylan had always had a way of distilling being young and living in New York City. His songs piled up images, metaphors, hints about his life. Trying to read into them, we could also read who we were. But this was something entirely different. This was Dylan without the cloak of lyrical mystery. This was how he felt unfettered, who he saw looking in the mirror. He was doing in public something we had all gone through in private – breaking up with a lover, bleeding anger and regret, love and loss, and pain, Lots and lots of pain.
(Lucian K. Truscott IV, ‘Sundown, yellow moon’)
For all of Bob Dylan’s elongated veil of idiosyncratic ambiguity, there is absolutely no denying the fact that his most majestic of masterpieces, Blood On The Tracks, is an album anchored in the personal pain of his divorce with Sara Lownds.
The very album Bob Geldof once referred to as ‘’quite possibly the best divorce album ever made.’’
To be sure, said album may well be one of the best ever made, period, regardless of divorce.
A collection of (ten) songs, which, for all intents and the most semi-controversial of poignant purposes, is herein brought to bear with both knowledgeable clarity and unremitting understanding.
Written by the Dutch writer and devout Dylanologist, Jochgen Markhorst, Blood On The Tracks – Dylan’s masterpiece in blue is an altogether intrinsic investigation that takes the reader on a variant journey of non-clandestine, rewarding discovery. The sort of journey that enables the reader to either judge for him or herself, whilst simultaneously grappling within the cognition of having been truly informed:
‘’Still, pain. The sharpest and most poignant that pain seems to be expressed in the final lines of ‘You’re A Big Girl Now’ in
I’m going out of my mind, oh, oh
With a pain that stops and starts
Like a corkscrew to my heart
Ever since we’ve been apart
The corkscrew metaphor is masterful. Only the harshest reviewer can hold back the tears here and the image resonates; it is a frequently cited verse line among biographers, reviewers and fans. In doing so, everyone follows Jakob’s alleged observation and Dylan’s own outpouring: the poet provides a rare, candid insight into the innermost workings of his soul, the man Bob Dylan reveals the pain he feels in losing his marital happiness, in losing Sara’’ (‘You’re A Big Girl Now’).
These 171 pages are literally littered with such substantiation throughout, which, along with detailed background to the songs themselves (not to mention the album’s build-up), makes for unquestionably interesting and imperative reading – especially if you’re a Bob Dylan fan.