Blood on the Tracks

Guest blogger Howard Thomas shares his memories of Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan by Daniel KramerIn 1971 I strapped my Dylan albums to the pillion of my Lambretta and freewheeled down the A1 to London. For me it was Highway 61. It led to an overcrowded house in W.11 which I shared with nurses who treated me like an errant younger brother. They played Frank Sinatra while nattering about how Bruce Forsyth and Anthea lived nearby. I tried to ignore those rainy day women and listen to Bob alone in my room. He made me dream about sharing with Sweet Marie or Johanna or best of all, a sad eyed lady from the lowlands

But I kept waiting for some new magic from Dylan through the early years of the decade. I knew he was pissed off and I understood he didn’t like the pedestal we’d built for him. Yet I believed too much was happening for him to become an introvert country singer. There were IRA bombs and a three day week in England. The Vietnam War refused to go away and Nixon was embroiled in Watergate. Didn’t he know what was happening in Chile? Just as I was turning my back on him, I succumbed to the charms of  Cracklin’ Rosie SRN. She played Neil Diamond on my Dansette record player and pushed Bob to the bottom of the LP pile. I was prepared to make sacrifices for love and hey, didn’t Sweet Caroline say the same as New Morning?

Blood on the Tracks Album Cover

It all fell apart for me later when I discovered what night duty really meant to Rosie. How could she? Devastated, I headed away from the city to study at UEA. Blood on the Tracks had been out for six months before I caught up with it. When I did, it floored me. It has to be the most cathartic break-up album ever. It was the therapy I craved and it felt like he had written it just for me. 

Even today, when I listen to the album I go back to the 70s. The opening chords of Tangled up in Blue take me to W.11 and Simple Twist of Fate sends me back to his Earl’s Court concert in ‘78. As he sang that night I realised he’d done more than help me through a difficult time. He’d taught me a lesson for life; to take things as they come and to not look back. I don’t think I ever have.”


Howard Thomas, author Gotcha (the novel) Bestseller Chart Book on YouWriteOn.com

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