This week Laura dives into More Blood, More Tracks, the highly anticipated Vol. 14 in Bob Dylan’s ongoing Bootleg Series, which was released at the beginning of November! The collection is entirely dedicated to the recording sessions of Dylan’s seminal 1975 album Blood On The Tracks, with particular focus on the sessions Dylan initially recorded in New York over the course of four days, before he decided to re-record half the record in Minneapolis a few months later.
For decades, fans have been circulating a bootleg version of the album’s test pressing comprised of only tracks from the New York Sessions, speculating what could have led Dylan to reconsider the album’s aesthetic.
In this hour, Laura talks about the allure of the New York Sessions, while also trying to discern what’s behind the seemingly frequent criticism of the Minneapolis takes among Dylan fans. We also explore the record’s status as one of the most famous “confessional” songwriter albums, as well as the fascination with Dylan’s real-life heartbreak and its impact on the songs.
The episodes includes a shortened version of a great Dylan quote regarding what his songs are about from a 1985 interview with Bill Flanagan. The full exchange, which is relevant to the discussion of meaning in songs, went like this:
BILL FLANAGAN: “Anything you’ve ever tried to write about and been unable to do?”
BOB DYLAN: “Yeah. Anything I try to write about, I can’t do it. If I try to write about something - "I want to write about horses" or "I want to write about Central Park" or "I want to write about the Cocaine industry" - I can’t get anywhere with that. I have to always take it out. It’s like that "Hurricane" song. I wanted to write a song about Hurricane Carter, I wanted to spread the message. It really doesn’t come out about Hurricane. Really, the essence of it is never what it’s about. It’s really about you. Unless you’re standing in somebody else’s shoes you just don’t know what it feels like. You don’t know what it’s about.
You can go to a movie and say, "What’s this about?" A movie is something that gives the illusion of stopping time. You go someplace and you sit there for a while. you’re looking at something. You’re trapped. It’s all happening in your brain and it seems like nothing else is going on in the world. Time has stopped. The world could be coming to an end outside, but for you time has stopped. Then someone says, "What was it about?" "Well, I don’t know. It was about two guys who were after the same girl." Or, "It was about the Russian Revolution." Well, yeah, that was what it was about, but that wasn’t *it*. That’s not what made you stay there and stare at the screen, at a light on the wall. In another way you could say, "What’s life about?" It’s just going by like a movie all the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re here for a hundred years, it still goes by. You can’t stop it.
So you can’t say what it’s about. But what you can do is try to give the illusion of the moment of it. And even that’s not what it’s about. That’s just proof that you existed.
What’s anything about? It’s not about anything. It is what it is.”
The entire interview is interesting and can be found here.
Simple Twist Of Fate (Take 1A)
Tangled Up In Blue (SNIPPET - remixed Minneapolis version)
Tangled Up In Blue (Take 3, Remake 3)
Call Letter Blues (Take 1)
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Take 5)