Ranking All 39 Bob Dylan Studio Albums- #3- Blood On The Tracks  A+ -Bob Dylan’s 15th studio album. Released on January 20, 1975.
The countdown so far 39- Dylan -1973 38- Down In The Groove -1988 37-Knocked Out Loaded- 1986 36-Christmas In The Heart- 2009 35-Under A Red Sky- 1990 34-Saved- 1980 33-Fallen Angels 2016 32- Good As I Been To You- 1992 31- World Gone Wrong 1993 30- Triplicate 2017. 29- Shadows In The Night. 2015 28- Self Portrait 1970- 27- Bob Dylan- Bob Dylan 1962, 26- Empire Burlesque 1985, 25- Street Legal 1978, 24- Nashville Skyline 1969 23- Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid 1973- 22- Shot Of Love 1981 21. New Morning- 1970 20. Rough And Rowdy Ways -2020, #19- Tempest 2012 18. Together Through Life 2009 #17- Another Side Of Bob Dylan 1964 #16 -Infidels 1983 #15- Planet Waves 1974, #14- The Basement Tapes 1975 #13- “Modern Times 2006 #12 Oh Mercy 1989, #11 Slow Train Coming.#10- Desire. #9: John Wesley Harding 1967. #8- ‘Love And Theft’ #7 Time Out Of Mind 1997. 6- The Times They Are A- Changin’ 5- Bringing It All Back Home 1966. 4= The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
The final three albums on my countdown are hard to rank- even at #3 Blood On The Tracks came under heavy consideration to be my #1 Dylan album. I get a feeling if a poll of fans was taken it would probably come out at #1. Released in early 1975- it was Bob’s first ‘great’ album since 1967’s John Wesley Harding [in my opinion.] Bob was back at Columbia his original record company after two years at Asylum.
Blood On The Tracks since its release has been considered one of the great autobiographical albums of the singer-songwriter era. Much of the album considered to be influenced by Dylan’s failing marriage to his first wife Sara. Dylan has denied that the album is autobiographical. Dylan’s son Jakob has said that this album is ‘my parents talking.’ Whether autobiographical/ confessional or not- the album was popular going to #1 on the album chart. Rolling Stone Magazine on their 500 Greatest Albums list has always had it high-it was #16 back in 2003 and unlike a lot of older albums in the recent politically correct 500 Greatest Albums list in 2020 it was #9. The album remains one of Dylan’s best selling albums going double platinum.
There are ten songs on the album and it clocks in at 51 minutes 42 seconds. The album was recorded in typical Dylan style- half the songs in 5 days in September 1974 in New York City and then in Minneapolis two days in late December. Dylan will never be accused of over production.
There was a hit single -the opening track a very commercial sounding ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ went to #31- a song about relationships which was produced by Bob’s brother David.
There are two long songs on this album- one of each side- the bitter “Idiot Wind’- at just under 8 minutes-which many take as being about his marriage. Dylan would say in 1985- ” I thought I might have gone a little bit too far with “Idiot Wind” … I didn’t really think I was giving away too much; I thought that it seemed so personal that people would think it was about so-and-so who was close to me. It wasn’t … I didn’t feel that one was too personal, but I felt it seemed too personal. Which might be the same thing, I don’t know.’ One review believes the song was about the Vietnam War.
The other long song ‘Lily, Rosemary and The Jack Of Hearts’- is nearly 9 minutes long and is a character study. It has been a fan favorite- It would be my least favorite song on the album- which isn’t to say that I don’t like it.
My Mount Rushmore of Blood On The Tracks would be- ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’ ‘Shelter From The Storm’ and ‘Idiot Wind.’
It’s hard to believe what Dylan says sometimes- he is always shaping his own history. In his 2004 book Chronicles Vol. 1 [ one of the better rock star memoirs] Dylan claims the album was inspired by the short stories of Anton Chekhov. Whatever it is about- Dylan needed a great album at this point and he delivered.
Now the countdown is narrowed down to two albums – Highway 61 Revisited released in 1965 and the double album Blonde On Blonde from 1966. Which one will come out as #1?