Friday, September 15, 2023

From Dylan's Heart to Your Ears: The Untold Stories of of the Minnesota Musicians Who Helped Shape "Blood on the Tracks"

It’s a classic conundrum. If a tree falls in the woods but there’s no one to hear, does it make a sound? Technically yes, in the sense that there were sound waves generated. Subjectively, if no one hears, then it’s as if it never happened at all.  

This is what the Minnesota musicians who recorded half the songs on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks were up against.  

It was his 15th studio album, recorded in New York in the fall of 1974 under the guidance of engineer Phil Ramone, backed by a handful of Big Apple session pros. The feedback from peers was purportedly stellar, though Dylan himself was privately niggled by doubts.

By late December he took the decisive step of re-recording five tracks while back home in Minnesota, his brother David Zimmerman assembling a team of top notch Twin Cities musicians for a pair of sessions.   Because the album’s cover sleeve had been pre-printed, the six Minnesotans went uncredited. It was as if their contributions to one of Dylan’s most highly acclaimed albums never happened.  

Blood in the Tracks, by Paul Metsa and Rick Shefchik, tells the story of these Minneapolis instrumentalists and the making of Blood on the Tracks. What prompted Dylan to re-visit an album that was already in the can? The New York studio hands had delivered what Bob was looking for. Or so they believed.    

My full review appeared in The Reader here: New book offers intimate insights on the making of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks

Related Link

While visiting Italy this spring I browsed a several bookstores in Florence and Parma. I was surprised at how every one of these stores had a Dylan book or two prominently displayed so they would catch an eye. Read: Bob Dylan in Italy.

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