Hot Press - - CONTENTS - By Anne MAr­gAret DAniel

In a world ex­clu­sive, Hot Press gets the first ever op­por­tu­nity to view the pri­vate note­books for BOB DY­LAN’s mas­ter­piece Blood On The Tracks – re­cently given the boxset treat­ment with More Blood, More Tracks. In these re­mark­able diaries, the iconic singer’s unique, per­fec­tion­ist ap­proach to his art is dra­mat­i­cally re­vealed.

But, first, there is the painstak­ing process of writ­ing, re­draft­ing and edit­ing the songs that would con­sti­tute Blood On The Tracks – of­ten con­sid­ered the greatest al­bum ever recorded. As the new box set More Blood, More Tracks demon­strates, BOB DY­LAN was ex­traor­di­nar­ily metic­u­lous and in­tense in his ded­i­ca­tion to paint­ing this mas­ter­piece. But there’s more: in a world ex­clu­sive, Hot Press gets the first ever op­por­tu­nity to view ad­di­tional pri­vate note­books, in which Dy­lan’s unique, per­fec­tion­ist ap­proach to his art is dra­mat­i­cally re­vealed.


THIS about his novel Taran­tula, which was not of­fi­cially pub­lished un­til 1971. One rea­son for the de­lay was that Dy­lan didn’t want it re­leased; al­ready a fa­mously pri­vate pub­lic per­son­al­ity, per­haps he’d had sec­ond thoughts about let­ting any­one else see what he said to him­self.

Lit­er­ary archives are the most in­ti­mate way for a scholar to gain ac­cess to a writer’s creative process. The Bob Dy­lan Archive in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa, now open for re­search on a strictly reg­u­lated ba­sis, pro­vides as­ton­ish­ing rev­e­la­tions about Dy­lan’s care in draft­ing, re­vis­ing, rewrit­ing, and per­fect­ing. In pris­tine acid-free grey boxes and brand-new my­lar sleeves rest note­books, shards of note pads, ho­tel sta­tionery, busi­ness cards, even bits of brown pa­per bags, covered in Dy­lan’s small, hard-to-read hand­writ­ing. As James Joyce did, Dy­lan writes on any­thing and ev­ery­thing to hand, when the words and phrases strike, which seems to be any time, all the time. I could ab­so­lutely have stayed for­ever and never re­al­ized the time, but my pur­pose, on a first visit, was to re­view the Blood On the Tracks song drafts writ­ten in two spi­ral note­books that have, un­til now, been in­ac­ces­si­ble.

Blood On The Tracks was re­leased in Jan­uary 1975, af­ter a brief but con­vo­luted record­ing his­tory. Dy­lan worked on the songs through 1974, writ­ing lyrics in a se­ries of tiny spi­ral note­books. In Septem­ber 1974, Dy­lan took what he’d been writ­ing to the A&R Stu­dios in New York, where, with pro­ducer Phil Ra­mone, he made what could have been a solo acous­tic blues record. Then, in Min­nesota that De­cem­ber, with the help of his pro­ducer brother David Zim­mer­man, Dy­lan as­sem­bled a group of lo­cal Min­neapo­lis mu­si­cians and re-recorded the songs with rock and roll soul. Five from the New York ses­sions and five from the Min­nesota ses­sions ended up on the record. Some tracks from the ses­sions have long been boot­legged, but all the takes — clean and clear, and un­veil­ing the raw blues Dy­lan once com­posed — have now just been re­leased by Sony/Columbia/Legacy on the new of­fi­cial Dy­lan boot­leg, the box set More Blood, More Tracks: The Boot­leg Se­ries Vol. 14.

In April 1975, pro­mot­ing the al­bum, Dy­lan gave his first ra­dio in­ter­view in nearly a decade to a friend, Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary). Af­ter she told him how much she en­joyed Blood On The Tracks, Dy­lan replied, “A lot of peo­ple tell me they en­joyed that al­bum. It’s hard for me to re­late to that. I mean, that, peo­ple en­joy­ing the type of pain, you know.” Blood On The Tracks

con­tains some of Dy­lan’s best-known, and best­loved, songs: “Tan­gled Up In Blue,” “Simple Twist of Fate,” “Id­iot Wind,” “Shel­ter From the Storm.” There is the bright “Buck­ets of Rain,” the lament “You’re A Big Girl Now,” and the long bal­lad­cum-Hol­ly­wood west­ern that plays its scenes just like a mov­ing-pic­ture show, “Lily, Rose­mary, And The Jack of Hearts.” From its re­lease, crit­ics and fans have called Blood On The Tracks a breakup record. It was in­deed com­posed dur­ing Dy­lan’s ini­tial sep­a­ra­tion from his wife, Sara, and their fam­ily to­gether (he and Sara re­mained mar­ried


un­til 1977), but is also an artis­tic pro­ject, and forc­ing any one-on-one cor­re­spon­dence with au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal fact is a se­duc­tive, and in­ap­pro­pri­ate, game. The note­books tell a story of lay­ers of life in up­heaval, all rolled to­gether in a fiercely, even ter­ri­fy­ingly, creative tor­rent. When the singer of “Mag­gie’s Farm” (1965) says “I got a head full of ideas / That are drivin’ me in­sane” that feels about right, as one reads Dy­lan’s drafts for this al­bum.

There are three Blood On The Tracks note­books of which we are now aware, in which Dy­lan drafted, re­vised, and scrapped songs for the record. All are the same kind — “the Spi­ral” note­books, made by Westab (a divi­sion of the Mead Cor­po­ra­tion, then based in Ohio), three inches by five, and sold in the 1960s and 1970s for nine­teen cents. Thin spi­ral wire runs up the left-hand side; the pa­per is lined. You could shove them in a hip pocket, and from the con­di­tion of these, Dy­lan clearly did, and sat on them of­ten, too.

One notebook, with a tomato-red cover and long out of Dy­lan’s hands by means un­known, is at the Mor­gan Li­brary & Mu­seum in New York City. This has long been re­ferred to as “the” Blood On The Tracks notebook. I have been work­ing with this notebook since 2014; it has now been re­pro­duced in full in the deluxe edi­tion of More Blood, More Tracks (four pages ac­ci­den­tally omit­ted from the print­ing are avail­able at bob­dy­ But the Dy­lan Archive holds two more, and these vir­tu­ally un­known and un­pub­lished twins are my topic here. One is cov­er­less, though the ghost of a red-orange edge re­mains trapped be­neath the wire. Very bat­tered and frag­ile, it is a work­ing book of lyrics but also of lists of art sup­plies, thoughts and tele­phone num­bers, ob­ser­va­tions, ad­dresses, and re­minders of var­i­ous kinds. The other is pale marine blue, and is a gold mine, a quarry, a map of cre­at­ing, a ver­i­ta­ble trove of com­po­si­tional fer­ment. Taken to­gether, they show Dy­lan’s draft­ing process and artis­tic cre­ation in a rich­ness and de­tail that it has not been pos­si­ble to chart un­til now.

The two Tulsa note­books, cat­a­logued sim­ply as Notebook 5 (the cov­er­less one) and Notebook 6 (the blue one), are un­dated, with few clues as to ex­actly when or where they were writ­ten. Al­most ev­ery page of them is heav­ily re­vised, with some­times scarcely leg­i­ble scrib­bles above, be­low, and in the mar­gins next to the lines, in the mid­dle of the pages, that were pre­sum­ably writ­ten first. Dy­lan uses plain black or blue ball­point most of­ten, with cor­rec­tions and changes in the same color. Some­times he uses a pen­cil, and the leg­i­bil­ity wors­ens. His words, phrases, par­en­thet­i­cals spill out in the same thought-go, or were maybe added an hour, a day, or months later. The ex­tent of his re­vis­ing is stag­ger­ing; and one thing pour­ing out of his song­writ­ing is the per­fec­tion­ism. Even his fel­low No­bel lau­re­ate W.B. Yeats’s con­vo­luted drafts are not so ubiq­ui­tously ut­terly changed.

In places Dy­lan’s tiny print­ing is as tidy as if he had al­ready planned the lines in his head, while in oth­ers he melts into a swifter, far harder-to-de­ci­pher semi-cur­sive. What is clear, how­ever, is the as­ton­ish­ing fact that Dy­lan was con­ceiv­ing and com­pos­ing mul­ti­ple songs at the same time — in the same breath, same thought. In many in­stances, he does not sep­a­rate songs, or will do so rudi­men­ta­r­ily, with a dash or in a par­al­lel col­umn on the same page. He veers from “Simple Twist of Fate” to “Tan­gled Up In Blue,” to “Meet Me In the Morn­ing” and back again. Ev­ery­thing is hap­pen­ing in his head at once.

Some songs come eas­ier than oth­ers. “You gonna make me lone­some when you go” is a rush of neatly writ­ten, lit­tle-al­tered lines down the early pages of the blue Notebook. Yet even here, bright cou­plets come to him so thickly that not all can be re­tained. They fly by as Dy­lan thinks, ed­its, changes the song even as it is as­sum­ing the shape, and rhyth­mic sound, he wants. “My mind’s been in a maze / From holdovers and by­gone days” gets left be­hind, as does the dra­matic, painterly “But now we’re in the 2nd Act, / More real, less ab­stract.”

Art terms abound, which is un­sur­pris­ing, since Dy­lan was paint­ing se­ri­ously at the time. In his 2004 au­to­bi­og­ra­phy Chron­i­cles Vol. 1, Dy­lan cred­its artist, ac­tivist, and au­thor Suze Ro­tolo for in­spir­ing him to be­gin draw­ing reg­u­larly, in their apart­ment on West 4th Street, in 1961: “I ac­tu­ally picked up the habit from Suze[.]” A na­tive New Yorker from a left-wing fam­ily, Ro­tolo also in­tro­duced him to New York’s art mu­se­ums, theater scene, and her po­lit­i­cally ac­tive friends. Dur­ing the sum­mer of 1974, Dy­lan took paint­ing classes in the Carnegie Hall stu­dio of Nor­man Raeben, and has ac­knowl­edged, long ago, the way those classes in­flu­enced his song­writ­ing.

He was also in be­tween movies. Dy­lan sur­vived Sam Peck­in­pah and Pat Gar­rett and Billy The Kid, which was filmed un­der wild, fraught con­di­tions in and around Du­rango, Mex­ico in Novem­ber 1972. Play­ing the role of “Alias,”

Dy­lan also com­posed the sound­track, and the pro­ject very much suited his imag­i­na­tion, fed on the Hol­ly­wood west­erns of his boy­hood and the bal­lads of the range, from those of anony­mous 19th-cen­tury cow­boys to Hank Snow and Johnny Cash. Shortly af­ter Blood On The Tracks was re­leased, he would be­gin the Rolling Thunder Revue tour and con­cur­rent film­ing of Re­naldo and Clara, the per­for­manceart doc­u­men­tary/mock­u­men­tary he starred in and pro­duced. Blood On The Tracks is the most the­mat­i­cally vis­ual, and cine­matic, of all Dy­lan’s al­bums; and in­deed, it was an­nounced in Oc­to­ber 2018 that Luca Guadagnino will be mak­ing the record into a film, with a screen­play by Richard LaGra­vanese. A lot of the cam­era’s work has al­ready been done by Dy­lan’s words. The bootheels and hoof­prints of Pat Gar­rett are strong in a song like “Lily, Rose­mary And The Jack Of Hearts,” and the art­house cobalt shades, days and nights on the road again, and cos­tumed al­ter egos of Re­naldo are pre­saged in “Tan­gled Up In Blue.”

“Tan­gled Up In Blue” is the side A, first track of Blood On The Tracks. A long liq­uid bal­lad of a love af­fair bro­ken and


re­sumed, bro­ken and sought anew (or at least again), it is a song Dy­lan has still not fin­ished. New lyrics ap­pear in his live per­for­mances

— a per­sonal fa­vorite of mine is “She was work­ing in the Trop­i­cana

/ I stopped in for a beer / I told her I was headin’ down to At­lanta / She said, “I’m gonna stay right here.” For Mondo Scripto, his cur­rent show of writ­ings and draw­ings at Lon­don’s Hal­cyon Gallery, Dy­lan has re­leased a much-re­vised ver­sion of the song — one that has some roots in his ear­li­est drafts.

On the first page of the cov­er­less Notebook, with men­tions of a movie trailer, a Volvo, and daily ap­point­ments, are the words “2 miles off Delacroix” and then a draft of what would be­come the sixth verse of the al­ter­nate “he/she” ver­sion of “Tan­gled Up In Blue,” re­leased on The Boot­leg Se­ries Vols. 1-3: Rare & Un­re­leased 1961-1991. Eigh­teen pages later, it reap­pears, and Dy­lan is work­ing on the same verse:

Dy­lan doesn’t spec­ify what John Coltrane record is on the turntable, but any­thing by Coltrane in­ti­mates rev­o­lu­tion, from the swiftly clas­sic Blue Train (1958) through his avant-garde jazz, record­ings of chant and prayer, to the wild As­cen­sion (1966). In the ear­li­est takes recorded of “Tan­gled Up In Blue,” the song is so blue it’s al­most a dirge, Dy­lan’s voice low and rich, fad­ing al­most to a whis­per and fill­ing out to em­pha­size the phras­ing. Per­haps with Coltrane’s tenor sax­o­phone still in his mind, he drops onto the page a few lines, fea­tur­ing another kind of horn, that would find their way into “Id­iot Wind”: I been dou­ble — mind

I’ll kiss the howl­ing beast good­bye and roll the

dice While trum­pets blow and im­i­ta­tors steal me blind

And, then, Dy­lan draws a line hor­i­zon­tally across the page and con­cludes with an in­ning from a goofy base­ball game, a lit­tle sketch rem­i­nis­cent of Ab­bott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” in which char­ac­ters called Zero, Joe Luck and Parka all get hits.

When he gets back to the song fea­tur­ing Delacroix and Mon­tague Street, Dy­lan plays with ti­tles: “Blue Car­na­tion I,” “Blue Car­na­tion Blues,” “Dusty Coun­try Blues,” and “Dusty-Blues.” A blue car­na­tion is such a 1970s flower, un­nat­u­rally dyed and far from the coded 1890s zing of a green car­na­tion. It’s also a prom flower in Amer­ica, a cheap bou­ton­niere worn by teen boys on their way to the dance. On the page in the blue Notebook where a ti­tle first ap­pears, Dy­lan be­gins “Blue Car­na­tion I” with the lines You were mar­ried when we first met

Soon to be divorced

If only I would’ve

Us­ing too much force

I helped you out of a jam I guess

But I used a lit­tle too much force

And we drove

Til we ran out of gas out west

And we split up on the side of road (sad night) Both agreed it was

And I was walkin I turned around Won­der­ing what you’d do

If I turned and I’d only lis­tened to the voice in­side

On the right-hand side of the page, next to these lyrics, he has writ­ten: “Tan­gled Up in Blues / Guess I al­ways been too Tan­gled / up in Blues.” Another draft page is

topped with dashed rhyming pos­si­bil­i­ties: “—Jew — who — few — clue — do — flew — grew — new — rue — sue —

too — you — zoo — slue — glue — this view[.]” This is just one of many in­stances where Dy­lan spins out a line of rhymes, test­ing words to find the one he likes best.

Shards of never-com­pleted songs, a long Beat-style rap story about hav­ing his ego cleaned at the “laun­dry­mat,” and sig­nif­i­cant work on “Simple Twist of Fate,” “Id­iot Wind,” and “Lily, Rose­mary And The Jack Of Hearts” in­ter­vene. Dy­lan’s next pro­longed ef­fort at the blues num­ber is called “Dusty-Blues”: And I was walk­ing by the side of the road

Rain fall­ing on my shoes

Headin’ out to the old east coast

Lord knows I paid some dues

Wish I could lose, these dusty sweat­box blues.

The deep per­sonal at­ten­tion to the I (not “he,” though Dy­lan con­tin­ues to shift the pro­nouns in per­for­mance of “Tan­gled Up In Blue,” just as he did through­out the drafts) cul­mi­nates in be­ing set­tled down some­where in a cheap ho­tel and “lis­ten­ing to James Brown.” “I got some­body’s mind work­ing in me / But I don’t know whose” is the last line of “Dusty-Blues.” Af­ter this pow­er­ful state­ment of strange col­lab­o­ra­tion re­fer­ring to whose thoughts are com­pos­ing the blues, Dy­lan draws a line across the page, and rolls right back into “Lily, Rose­mary And The Jack Of Hearts.”

Slip­ping, slid­ing pro­nouns are a hall­mark of many of the song drafts in the note­books. “I” is ro­man­tic, or rather Ro­man­tic, for the sub­ject, and pulls one in closer, as does “you,” mak­ing you the ob­ject of what’s be­ing sung. Third per­son pro­nouns have a built-in dis­tance that pro­tects. In the note­books, Dy­lan will ini­tially com­mit to us­ing, say, an “I,” but qual­i­fies it al­most in­stantly with “he” or “she” or some­times “you” in par­en­thet­i­cals, pre­serv­ing his op­tions. Some­times, less of­ten, he al­ters the third per­son to the first. The turn in his re­leased ver­sions of “Tan­gled Up In Blue” where “he” be­comes “I,” in the verse be­gin­ning “She was work­ing in a top­less place,” makes for a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in the song. In 1978, Dy­lan told an in­ter­viewer in Aus­tralia, “The he and the she and the I and the you, and the we and the us — I fig­ured it was all the same any­way — I could throw them all in where they floated right — and it works on that level.” How­ever, his pro­fes­sion­al­ism says some­thing else, as you lis­ten to Dy­lan record­ing rather than giv­ing a quo­ta­tion to a re­porter. More Blood, More Tracks in­cludes a take in which Dy­lan sings “He was mar­ried…” in­stead of “She.” Im­me­di­ately he stops, says, “Aw, she was mar­ried.” They start the whole song over again.

The drafts for “Simple Twist of Fate” are poignant and nos­tal­gic. The song first ap­pears as “Snow­bound,” though the words “door / opened / up by a / simple twist” are in the right-hand mar­gin. Dy­lan later ti­tles it “4th Street Af­fair,” re­call­ing the ad­dress of the apart­ment where he and Ro­tolo be­gan to live to­gether in early 1962. The song is not di­rectly about her, though, or any other par­tic­u­lar she. Dy­lan may be a ro­man­tic, but he’s also a prag­ma­tist. He changed the ti­tle to hide the song’s “true” mean­ing? More likely he changed it be­cause he’d al­ready used a “4th Street” in a song ti­tle al­ready. He also tests the ti­tles “SCAR­LET WIND” and “STREETS OF THE WORLD” — these pre­ced­ing a draft of the “hunts her down by the wa­ter­front” verse that in­cludes a con­dem­na­tory “She’d gone back to the streets.” How­ever, Dy­lan gives the most space to the

morn­ing-af­ter verse:

Decades later, on a piece of sta­tionery now in Tulsa from the Ho­tel Drei Könige am Rhein in Basel, Dy­lan re­drafted “Simple Twist of Fate” al­most en­tirely. He con­cluded the verses “Peo­ple tell me it’s a crime / To feel it for too long a time / She shoulda caught me in my prime / She woulda /stead of [.]”

The idea of im­i­ta­tors and peo­ple steal­ing from him, cou­pled with the im­age of a proud, re­ject­ing woman, are the ker­nels that gen­er­ate “Id­iot Wind.” Early in the blue Notebook, Dy­lan muses: Im­i­ta­tors run­ning wild copie cats slip your 2nd com­ing You close your eyes You can have it in the orig­i­nal form and pout your lips But it’s gonna cost ya all your love And slip your

You won’t get it for money fin­gers from

your glove

The re­peated com­plaint that “I’ve had so much stolen

from me, I just about lost my mind” of­ten turns as­sertive in the end: “The orig­i­nal is still the best.” He seems to have no doubt, here, about what or who that orig­i­nal is. How­ever, you re­ally can see Dy­lan talking to him­self, of­ten dep­re­cat­ingly, in this stretch of the blue Notebook: “How easy it is to fool (peo­ple) your­self — You’re still out of cig­a­rettes and yr still in Cal­i­for­nia.”

Af­ter a draft of “Up To Me” that fo­cuses on pos­si­bil­i­ties for end rhymes, Dy­lan an­nounces on the next page of the blue Notebook the ti­tle “FISH­ING ON A MUDDY BANK.” How­ever, “Id­iot Wind” is still on his mind. In the right-hand mar­gin he adds, in a swift scrib­ble, but­tons of our coats that we wrote let­ter dust — shelves

Dy­lan of­ten short­hands a line he’s got in the form in which he wants it, as seen in the “dust — shelves.” He then starts some­thing else, be­gin­ning “Long legged fox



in a blue silk dress,” that, alas, goes nowhere. Nor does the start of an in­ter­est­ing train story that reads more like a diary en­try, Dy­lan en route home to Wood­stock, not so long be­fore: “A fel­low next to me look­ing at his watch surely he saw what I was car­ry­ing and sud­denly bolted up and moved to the next car. Just then a con­duc­tor came in and told me I’d have to get off at Poukeep­sie.”

Op­po­site this col­umn, care­fully di­vided off with a line drawn down the mid­dle of the page, is the start of another sec­tion of “Id­iot Wind”: lone sol­dier on the hill, read­ing verse crouch­ing down with a 44 sig­nal­ing the fire of change wait­ing for the weather to change you can have what­ever you want

this time if you wait for I haven’t tasted peace of quiet for so long, it seems like liv­ing hell — It must be some­thing that I’m go­ing thru *Here the draft evades its col­umn, and takes over the whole page: It was des­tiny which pulled us in

And sweet des­tiny which pulled us both apart I tamed the fury in yer soul

And you put out the fire in my heart Gen­er­a­tions come to pass

Af­ter I waited for­ever for you

Af­ter you were flat­tened out

You said that I came too fast

(it was over too fast) —

The driver came in there af­ter you left Gave them all to me and then re­signed (let’s not do it for the money) cut­ting thru the low / back roads No one does it for love any more

Do­ing it for the money

Dy­lan con­tin­ues writ­ing the song with fig­ure of a sol­dier, alone and in com­pany; the Red Cross store; and throws in the I Ching, cir­cling crows, pris­on­ers of love. He labors over the “haven’t tasted peace and quiet” line, and re­it­er­ates the con­cepts of mis­taken iden­tity, trust, and the dep­re­ca­tions of the ad­dressee — “you said I was a flash in the pan”; “and that noth­ing about me would ever last”; “you said I was pretty bad[.]” His frus­tra­tion with, but also ac­cep­tance of, des­tiny is con­stant, and leads to a sort of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, at one point: I’d con­quered time & space

If I hadnt taken your ad­vice

But I don’t cry over spilt milk

We’d a con­quered t & s if we only couldve seen where it went

But it was des­tiny that called to us, noth­ing in this life’s an ac­ci­dent blowin the cir­cles of your eyes / hot and dusty skies —

Dust upon the shelf We’re idiots babe it’s a won­der we can even feed our­selves

Quick as his thoughts, Dy­lan is on to the song that would be­come “You’re Gonna Make Me Lone­some When You Go,” and, next, the start of another song called “You Were Good To Me.” You were good to me

I’ve never known it in my life I been too long with­out a wife And you were good to me

You were all there No strings at­tached

Ev­ery­thing about it seemed to match….


He’s swirling, hur­ry­ing, and the loos­en­ing hand­writ­ing shows it — he starts another song called “Blind Al­ley,” puts in some stray lines from “Don’t Want No Mar­ried Woman,” and nails a cou­plet: “And the gypsy played his vi­o­lin / And a thou­sand peo­ple stood soaked to the skin.”

“Id­iot Wind,” though, is the song that won’t go away. It weeps into all the oth­ers, par­tic­u­larly “You’re Gonna Make Me Lone­some.” Se­quen­tial page 12 of the blue Notebook is prac­ti­cally a mash-up of the two, with “It’s been so long since I’ve tasted peace & quiet / I can’t even re­call the smell / And Je­sus Christ could burn ^ could be^ in hell” jar­ring against “lone­some for the {world} that never was and lone­some for the snow / You gonna make me lone­some when you go[.]” Later, “Id­iot Wind” ends up push­ing aside a draft of “Simple Twist of Fate” in which Dy­lan is shift­ing pro­nouns and who does what to whom. He also can’t de­cide the name of the man to be shot, nor the coun­try to which the wife is taken, nor the cir­cum­stances of the money: They say I shot a man named Grey ^(Hemp

(Kemp And took his wife to Ja­pan Italy

She in­her­ited a mil­lion bucks

I took it from

And when she died, it went to me A flash of tem­per, gen­tled by sym­pa­thy, fol­lows. “They’re so con­fused by what they’ve read / Wish­ful think­ing / They think I’m some­one I’m sup­posed to be…. I don’t know / Maybe it’s the same for you.”

Dy­lan kept chang­ing these songs up to and even past the ver­sions sub­mit­ted for copy­right. The copy­right pages for the Blood On The Tracks songs are rife with dashes left for words, even en­tire lines, most likely be­cause Dy­lan’s of­fices knew bet­ter by then than to call lyrics a fi­nal ver­sion; and these must have been tran­scribed from recorded ver­sions, in any case. “Check with Bob” and “ask Bob” in var­i­ous hand­writ­ings abound. Some of these can en­gen­der a laugh in the li­brary. In the copy­right pages for “Shel­ter From The Storm,” for in­stance, some­one has haz­arded, clearly from a sung ver­sion, the line “A preacher boy to form.” Dy­lan has pa­tiently printed the cor­rec­tion “A crea­ture void of form.”

“Up To Me” didn’t make it onto Blood On The Tracks, even though Dy­lan worked hard on it, and re­vised it ex­ten­sively in the Mor­gan Notebook. It was recorded for the al­bum; there are nine takes of it on More Blood, More Tracks. “Call Let­ter Blues,” al­ter­nately “Church Bell Blues,” was also left off (both songs were re­leased later). “Blind Al­ley,” “Blaz­ing Star,” “Sketches,” and other pos­si­ble ti­tles start un­fin­ished pages. Gems scat­ter, and are sim­ply left be­hind. Some are full verses: Per­haps you’ve seen me walk­ing On the high­way in yr mind

Had some big am­bi­tions

But they all broke like glass Al­ways done my duty

And tried to be kind

I couldn’t stop the progress

Of a na­tion go­ing blind Many are cou­plets; Dy­lan has ac­knowl­edged his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Shake­speare and By­ron, and it has al­ways shown. Surely it does here: Dolores was (stand­ing)^{cook­ing}^ with the Ace of Spades She opened the win­dow and I climbed up on her braids I busted my bal­loon just to see it bleed

The writ­ing’s on the wall but I never did like to read Been all around the world and I was nearly on the verge of wan­der­ing for­ever but I didn’t have the urge. Sin­gle lines res­onate all on their own:

"Too many worlds and they’re all too alike" ;"I feel like an ac­tor, and the mid­night train is load­ing"; "Blood On the Ice (cant lose what ya never had)"; "Poet of no Re­turn"

Card-play­ing scenes and hands dealt by fate, fate, des­tiny, beauty, God, wry phrases, com­ments on never want­ing to see another Bergman movie, and on con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics, golden cou­plets, and so much more — the Blood On The Tracks note­books can only be glanced at in an es­say of this length. One thing is for cer­tain sure: Dy­lan is still re­vis­ing to­day, in per­for­mance, and in the texts he’s just re­leased pub­licly for his Mondo Scripto show. He’s us­ing words and phrases that might be brand new, or that he might have writ­ten in these note­books four decades ago. Read his changed lyrics at the Hal­cyon Gallery, and lis­ten to the ver­sions on More Blood, More Tracks, to hear for your­self what is old, what’s new, what might be bor­rowed, and a whole lot of blues.

These days, when Dy­lan sings “Tan­gled Up In Blue” with the in­struc­tion “mem­o­rize these lines and re­mem­ber these rhymes,” he’s grin­ning at you. As soon as you’ve got­ten them set in your head, he’ll change them on you. Those songs you know by heart? He’s been know­ing them longer, and has plenty more to put into them — lines he cre­ated in 1974, and lines he’s writ­ten some time since. He’s The Joker, The Rid­dler, both masks he loves to wear on stage. His lyrics for not just the songs in these note­books, but for oth­ers, re­main pro­tean; he’s still re­vis­ing and shift­ing. Self-pro­claimed purists who love their fa­vorite songs and gripe about Dy­lan’s changes af­ter con­certs, beware: these might not, in fact, be “new,” but might just be Dy­lan’s ini­tial ideas that he’s de­cided, only now, to share with us. He’s been re­vis­ing for­ever, re­work­ing his songs since they were “fin­ished.” He is a No­bel Lau­re­ate “for hav­ing cre­ated new poetic ex­pres­sions within the great Amer­i­can song tra­di­tion,” and he’s keep­ing it new, or, in a Modernist direc­tive, tak­ing his own art and mak­ing it new.

Dy­lan’s life­long re­fusal to be cat­e­go­rized or can­on­ized ap­plies to his in­di­vid­ual songs, too. He doesn’t want his lyrics carved on mon­u­ments or tat­tooed on your bod­ies. He’d rather they be alive in his own mind and in your ears, writ in wa­ter, blow­ing in the wind. The Note­books are a gold­mine re­veal­ing much of how the songs of Blood On The Tracks first came into be­ing, and, as in­ti­mately as we’ll ever see it, both the fer­tile wel­ter and pro­fes­sional per­fec­tion­ism of Dy­lan’s creative process.

*Au­thor’s note: Where round brack­ets or paren­the­ses oc­cur within quo­ta­tions, these are Dy­lan’s own. In the case of an il­leg­i­ble word, or my best ef­fort at a tran­scrip­tion of which I can­not be cer­tain, the word is printed in {curly brack­ets}.

Copy­right © 1974 Ram’s Horn Mu­sic. Re­newed, 2002 Ram’s Horn Mu­sic. Ad­di­tional lyrics, Copy­right © 2018 Ram’s Horn Mu­sic. Cour­tesy of THE BOB DY­LAN ARCHIVE® Col­lec­tions, Tulsa, OK.

The hand of a mas­ter…Bob goes search­ing for the lyri­cal bulls­eye; and (in­set) the orig­i­nal Blood On The Tracks al­bum sleeve

(Above) Bob wary; and (right) Bob weary; (in­set) the sleeve of the new Box Set

Pen ever at the ready…

Set off in the left-hand mar­gin is a cou­plet, and an end­point that will sur­vive in the fi­nal ver­son:

An A-chord will do the trick

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