Music: Constant Lover – Bob Dylan

Original Publication: Newsweek, February 10, 1975

Bob Dylan is on the road again. His guise this time is the Little Tramp.  On his new Columbia Records album, “Blood on the Tracks,” he sounds like the old familiar Dylan the public knows and loves. But he sees himself as a star-crossed Romeo whose destiny is nearly always molded by “a simple twist of fate.” After a dozen years on and off the scene, a marriage, five children, a separation and a comeback, Dylan is a combination of mature musical control and adolescent ideas.

The theme of the album is lost love, and he’s obviously suffering. His great love is gone. He tells how she and he met in “Shelter From the Storm,” and he recounts the pain of their parting in “You’re a Big Girl Now.” In between there are interludes with others, often poignant but always brief. Sometimes driven by his love, he does deeds of derring-do:

Well, I struggled through barbed wire,

Felt the hail fall from above.

Well, you know I even outran the hound dogs.

Honey, you know I’ve earned your love.

Other times he suffers in silence:

Say for me that I’m all right

Though things get kind of slow.

Then there’s his Christ hang-up:

In a little hill-top village

They gambled for my clothes.

And his old paranoia:

Someone’s got it in for me, 

They’re planting stories in the press.

Some of the lyrics smack of writers like Leonard Cohen and Bo Diddley. Still, Dylan’s music is excellent. It’s acoustic and spare. There are frequent flashes of the old poetry, and his voice wails hauntingly. What’s disconcerting is the covert plea for pity present in many of the songs. Dylan seems to think himself a victim – a curious role for one sitting so firmly atop the rock pile.

This article is typed from the original material.  Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.

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