It has been a while since we have had a Bob Dylan album to discuss, but here we are with his 1975 release “Blood on the Tracks”, which is the #9 rated album on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. I will tell you right now, this is not MY #9 rated album of all time, although it does have some positive moments. I have spoken at length previously about the collective bias at Rolling Stone for particular artists like John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen… this is a prime example right here.
To be fair, the two most well-known songs on the album, “Tangled Up in Blue”, and in particular, “Shelter from the Storm” are Dylan tracks many know and most enjoy, myself included. “Shelter from the Storm” is definitely my favorite track on the album. There are several other tracks I enjoyed as well, to include “Simple Twist of Fate”, “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts”, and “Bucket of Rain”. And also, to be fair, there are no other songs on the album that I really dislike.
However, there is an underlying reality that has to be addressed here. Bob Dylan will never be confused with Sam Cooke or any other remarkable vocalist. He is a songwriter, a musical poet, and a messenger of importance for many generations of music fans. It’s not my place to say he isn’t a very good singer, but by this point in his career, the flatness and tone of his voice is a distraction and detrimental component to his music, at least for me. Maybe I’m the only one, but some of these songs are just difficult to enjoy, with Bob taking the lead on vocals.
His style is unique, and in many cases, serves as an appropriate balance to his guitar and harmonica. All of that considered, I don’t listen to his music because of the gift of his voice, and I’m pretty sure I’m not on an island with that thinking. “Blood on the Tracks” has some good songs, and a couple of really good songs, but #9? I’m not buying it. Not today, not any day…