In an archive piece taken from Uncut’s January 2005 issue (Take 92), we look back at Dylan in 1975, when he turned the crisis of a deteriorating relationship into one of rock’s most compelling dramas.
This is the story of Blood On The Tracks, the album that marked the demise of Dylan’s marriage – and his artistic rebirth.
He is like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, hiding out in a farmhouse, wanting the world to forget him.
Living with his new family, the almost supernatural creative fire of the mid-’60s passed from him like a fever.
Suddenly, he seemed content to walk his daughter to the school bus.
I was fantasising about a nine-to-five existence, a house on a tree-lined block with a white picket fence… That was my deepest dream.” The music he made in this period of retreat – secret “basement tapes” with The Band never meant for release, John Wesley Harding (1968), Nashville Skyline (1969), Self Portrait (1970) and New Morning (1970) – turned its back on the world and its demands.
Though good records, they were placid compared to their predecessors, a calm after the storm. After New Morning, Dylan made no more studio albums for four years.
In Chronicles, Dylan claims the period was one of deliberate, near-schizoid deception.
Shaken by fame’s assault on his everyday life, resentful of fans’ crazy expectations, he resolved to “demolish my identity”, to transform his image from messiah to the happy hick of Nashville Skyline’s sleeve.Hippies have been capering on his roof, swimming in his pool, fucking in his bed, marching up his driveway in straggling droves.They are coming for answers, or to stare and point, or with less clear, more malign motives.But 30 years ago this month, in December 1974, Dylan was completing its true epitaph.Written during their first separation, Blood On The Tracks is one of the most truthful dissections of love gone wrong in rock history, by turns recriminatory, bitter and heartbroken.Bob and Sara Dylan are screaming themselves hoarse.