Featured song: “You’re Gonna Make me Lonesome When You Go” by Bob Dylan
I knew it would come to this, I just didn’t know it would come to this so soon. I knew sooner or later it would be time to blog about the eternal question – the question that has plagued music devotees and dabblers alike for years. But hey, I made my bed. I wanted to start a blog. And today I received an email asking me that frightening question. So, here goes ..
What is my favourite album – ever? It’s one of those questions that I love to grill others with because it can demonstrate so much about one’s identity – but when the tables are turned, I get uneasy. How. How can I possibly answer that? Are you serious right now?
At 25, I already feel like I’ve met many people. I’ve met such a range of people. The bond that has tied me to most of the people that are currently in my life is music. That’s not to say it’s the only thing, but it is one of the biggest things and OTHER than the people I love, it takes the most space in my heart.
My friend Howard said something to me the other day that has been echoing in my mind ever since – music is perpetual. Music. Is. Perpetual. It is ceaseless. It is eternal. It is life giving. It is heart breaking and mind altering. Music is perpetual. It is constantly changing and evolving and shattering and mending itself. It is the greatest gift in the world. Pressed on vinyl. Pressed in a book. Pressed into a ticket stub. Pressed in airwaves. Pressed on a marquee.
And I appreciate it all – and I’m happy I got to this point. I was the girl in high school who wore the Aerosmith t-shirts and the Hendrix sweatshirts and if it was top 40 FORGET IT. Classic rock, through and through. Hip hop? No thanks. Country? Get it away from me.
Bob Dylan said, “An artist must be careful to never think he has arrived somewhere, he must always be in a constant state of becoming”– and so must a fan of music. There is too much out there to be closed minded – if you even so much as blink you might miss out on an album, on a song that’ll scoop you off the floor and embrace you when someone you love breaks your heart.
And God bless humans, but they have broken my heart to the point of what seemed like .. never-ending tears and many many hours in the fetal position. And when that has happened, on more than one occasion, when it does happen – I reach out and drop the needle on one album before any other: Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan.
It’s no mystery that I’m a huge Dylan fan – and not just in song. I’ve seen him 3 times and despite his sometimes incomprehensible vocal stylings, I’d see him again in a heartbeat. I’ve stayed up night after night after night just reading his lyrics and am truly dumbfounded by his genius. Blood on the Tracks was the spawn of his failed marriage and marked his own creative reawakening. This is what Dylan did instead of curling up in the fetal position. He released Blood on the freaking Tracks. It crushes my heart and gives me hope, at the same time.
I love stories. It is full of stories. From the first chord in Tangled up in Blue to the last in Buckets of Rain, the accounts of romance and betrayal are completely timeless and can fit into any era. I can put faces to each of Dylan’s characters. I can draw comparisons to his characters. And as I grow, the characters in my life change and his lyrics stay the same. The preacher, Lily, Rosemary, the one-eyed undertaker – I’ve met them. I’m always meeting them. Dylan’s verses are so plentiful that I hear something new every time I listen to it, like I’m unearthing buried treasure. And it’s from 1975! I fell asleep listening to this poignant record in a lavish hotel in downtown Winnipeg when the year changed to 2014, at a time when I needed to make tough decisions about life, and love – and it was still so perfectly relevant. Heartbreakingly relevant. Inversely, a friend gave it to me on vinyl for my 25th birthday and it’s one of the best and most joyous gifts I have ever received.
The album from beginning to end is a roller coaster of sounds, different sentiments – sometimes with a rolling train of melody (Lily, Rosemary & the Jack of Hearts) and sometimes stark and bare and brazenly tragic (If You Say Her, Say Hello). And if you’re ever scared to say what you REALLY feel when you’re upset, listen to Idiot Wind. It is unabashedly honest and my jaw has literally dropped listening to his jarring words.
And the final track, Buckets of Rain, has brought me to tears more times than I can count. He ends the album by gradually pulling to a standstill, and gently letting you know the ride is over. The white flag is up, he said what he had to say – and it’s a masterpiece. Every. Damn. Time.
I’m not one to review music – to review albums. I don’t know when someone’s playing out of tune, I don’t know what’s technically right or wrong. I do know that this album has changed my life, and continues to do so. Just thinking about it gives me chills up and down my spine.
And maybe you think it’s impossible to think of one album that tops them all, maybe you’re thinking THAT QUESTION IS AN AUDIOPHILE’S WORST NIGHTMARE!! – and that’s okay too. I would love to know what yours is if maybe there is one. Or two. Or three. Or ten. All I do know is that I need to go put Blood on the Tracks on right now. If you’ll excuse me.