Synopses & Reviews
In 1974 Bob Dylan wrote, recorded, reconsidered, and then re-recorded the best-selling studio album of his career. Blood on the Tracks was composed as Dylan's twelve-year marriage began to unravel, and songs like "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Shelter from the Storm" have become templates for multidimensional, adult songs of love and loss. Yet the story behind the creation of this album has never been fully told; even the credits on the present-day album sleeve are inaccurate. Dylan recorded the album twice-once in New York City and again in Minneapolis, with a rag-tag gang of local musicians, quickly rewriting many of the songs in the process. For A Simple Twist of Fate, the authors have interviewed the musicians and producers, industry insiders, and others, creating an engaging chronicle of how one musician channeled his pain and confusion into great art.
BOB DYLAN STOOD AT A ROW OF VENDING MACHINES, feeding loose change into the coffee maker, selecting the brew he would sip for the next three hours in the studio down the hall. Guitar-shop owner Chris Weber wandered by to ask if he could stay and watch the sessions from the control booth. "No man, I need you to play guitar on this," replied Dylan, much to Weber's surprise. Bob introduced his five-year-old son Jakob to Chris, and the three of them strolled back into the small triangular room where Dylan was about to change the course of his career by spilling his guts to a troubled world living through uncertain times. Times that were equally uncertain for the singer himself, as at that point everything he knew and loved seemed to be in flux. Rarely seen in public for the previous half-decade, the world's most reclusive rock star had that year become its biggest concert attraction. He had changed record labels twice in as many years, and scored his first U.S. No. 1 album. And his songwriting had recently been transformed by a course of art lessons which revitalized his jaded muse. Less agreeably, his marriage was on the rocks. This personal turmoil would bring forth Dylan's most compelling batch of material in years, a song-cycle of love lost, love found, love made and love spurned, which would eventually become the most acclaimed album of his entire career. But not just yet. He didn't like the way these songs had been recorded for his much-heralded return to Columbia Records, and knew changes needed to be made there, too. So here he was, a few days after Christmas 1974, hunkered down in chilly Minneapolis with a group of unsuspecting unknowns, about to try and get it right, the way heheard it in his head. It was a gamble, but one he knew he had to take. In 1974 Bob Dylan wrote, recorded, reconsidered, and then re-recorded "Blood on the Tracks, and to this day, no one who hears it can avoid being blown away by its emotional power. Commonly referred to as "the greatest break-up album of all time," it was written as Dylan's own twelve-year marriage began to painfully unravel. Songs like "Tangled Up in Blue," "Idiot Wind," and "Shelter from the Storm" have become the template for multidimensional, adult songs of love, longing, and loss. Yet the full story behind the creation of this album has never been told. The authors have drawn upon first-hand information and interviews with the musicians, producers, industry insiders, as well as Dylan's friends, associates, and relatives. "A Simple Twist of Fate is an engaging chronicle of how one artist transformed his personal pain and confusion into great art.
An in-depth look at the creation of one of Bob Dylan's most celebrated albums, Blood on the Tracks.
About the Author
Andy Gill is a leading critic for The Independent, and has edited or written for NME, Q, Mojo, Rolling Stone, GQ, and Maxim. He lives in London. Kevin Odegard was a brakeman on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad when he was asked to play guitar on Blood on the Tracks. He has written for USA Today, Billboard, and other periodicals. He lives in Wayzata, Minnesota.