Bob Dylan was at several crossroads in the mid-1970s. Artistically, he was largely written off as being past his prime. Emotionally, he was suffering through a painful divorce from his then-wife Sara Lowndes. Creatively, he appeared at a stalemate, his previous decade's unprecedented run of transformational brilliance finished. Then came Blood on the Tracks. A start-to-finish cycle that documents a lover's pursuit of, entanglement with, and loss of a woman, the bracingly intimate 1975 effort remains one of the most encompassing break-up albums ever made and ranks as the most personal statement of the Bard's career.
To hear it is to experience the agony, frustration, trauma, highs, lows, confusion, sadness, and, ultimately, requisite redemption associated with intimate relationships gone astray. Dylan maintains it's a work of fiction, but it's evident close-vested autobiographical premise is what helps make it universal: It's the icon singing through tears, going out of his mind, battling hallowing emptiness, firing shots across the bow, and accepting culpability. It is, in short, a consummate expression of love's darker sides and the consequences of what happens when dreams unravel.
Throughout, tunes come on and proceed as if they could continue forever, Dylan spinning poetic verses and conversations amidst finely tied knots of acoustic notes, chords, and fills, the deceivingly simple architecture conjuring the intertwined refractions of a bezeled jewel, various angles, colors, and textures conjoining into a gorgeously inseparable whole. Backed by Tony Brown's flexible albeit subtle bass, Buddy Cage's country-streaked pedal-steel guitar, and Paul Griffin's soul-baring organ – an instrument used to shadow, tuckpoint, and illuminate here as effectively as any time in rock history – Dylan pours soulful emotion, open his veins, and bleeds.