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Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan

Columbia Records, January 17, 1975

Track Listing: 1. Tangled Up in Blue, 2. Simple Twist of Fate, 3. You’re a Big Girl Now, 4. Idiot Wind, 5. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go, 6.  Meet Me in the Morning, 7. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, 8.  If You See Her, Say Hello, 9. Shelter from the Storm, 10. Buckets of Rain

All aboard! Misery this delicious loves company.

“I’m going out of mind … ohhhhhhh
With a pain that stops and starts
Like a corkscrew to my heart
Ever since we’ve been apart”

-fromYou’re a Big Girl Now

It’s strange, really, how Bob’s blues can provide such toe-tapping fun. Maybe that is part of the album’s enticing and everlasting charm. Whether you need a friend to commiserate with during your own hard times, or you simply feel like meandering through a plush landscape of magnificent melodies and gorgeous imagery, it’s entirely up to you. The tracks are laid. It is an epic, tangled-up journey into blue.

Perhaps it’s also a bit ironic that an album so helplessly lodged in the depths of despair begins with the sun shining because sunshine isn’t going to help here. No, here the forecast not only calls for pain, but calls for the kind of pain that lasts a lifetime.

“Sundown, yellow moon, I replay the past
I know every scene by heart, they all went by so fast
If she’s passin’ back this way, I’m not that hard to find
Tell her she can look me up if she’s got the time”

-fromIf You See Her, Say Hello

Did you think for one second that this was going to be a walk in the park? That giving your heart over to love didn’t carry with it, an inherent grave risk? There’s blood on the tracks for goodness sake! To love is to lose. Big ol’ chunks of yourself are ripped out, gone forever. And that’s on a good day.

“I haven’t known peace and quiet for so long
I can’t remember what it’s like”

-fromIdiot Wind

The mourning continues. The darkness endures. There was no avoiding it. Such is the choice—is it a choice?—we make.

“They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn
But you wouldn’t know it by me
Every day’s been darkness since you been gone”

-fromMeet Me in the Morning

You can close your eyes and try and pretend that things are okay, that you are somehow stronger because of it. And maybe you are. Who really knows anymore?

“He woke up, the room was bare
He didn’t see her anywhere
He told himself he didn’t care
Pushed the window open wide
Felt an emptiness inside
To which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate”

-fromSimple Twist of Fate

The only certainty now is the gaping hole—no longer a crack—from which the past has no choice but to gush free and easy while you are forced to pretend it doesn’t exist at all, or at least to pretend it doesn’t sting nearly so bad.