Thirty-nine years ago, on December 27, 1974, Bob Dylan entered Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis and re-recorded two songs he’d previously recorded in New York for a new album he was working on. Those new versions of “Idiot Wind” and “You’re Big Girl Now” are the ones that ended up on Blood On The Tracks.
I remember when I first listened to Blood On The Tracks when it was released in late January, 1975. The song that immediately blew me away was “Idiot Wind.” I thought at the time that Dylan had finally written a kind of followup to “Like A Rolling Stone” due to the bitterness in his voice and the bite of the chorus:
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth
Blowing down the backroads headin’ south
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot, babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe
The Blood On The Tracks sessions began at Columbia A&R Studios in New York on September 16, 1974. That studio was where he’d recorded his first six albums including Highway 61 Revisited. Dylan recorded in New York off and on, wrapping up on September 25, 1974. A test pressing of the album was made and Dylan planned to release that version of the album, which has been circulating as a bootleg ever since.
However Dylan changed his mind after playing the test pressing for his brother David who, according to Clinton Heylin, suggested Dylan recut the album in Minneapolis with local musicians.
“I had the acetate,” Dylan said years later. “I hadn’t listened to it for a couple of months. The record still hadn’t come out, and I put it on. I just didn’t… I thought the songs could have sounded differently, better. So I went in and re-recorded them.”
Two sessions took place — one on December 27 and a final session on December 30. Five songs recut during those sessions made it onto the album, and, of course, there has been disagreement for nearly 39 years now as to whether Dylan should have stuck with the New York tracks, or gone with the mix of New York and Minneapolis tracks as he did.
Dylan said to a radio interviewer who told him she enjoyed Blood On The Tracks:
“A lot of people tell me they enjoyed that album. It’s hard for me to relate to people enjoying that kind of pain.”
Below you can hear the versions of “Idiot Wind” and “You’re A Big Girl Now” that made it onto the album. I’ve also included versions that didn’t. Plus a couple of live versions.
“Idiot Wind,” Sound 80, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 27, 2013:
“You’re A Big Girl Now,” Sound 80, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 27, 2013:
“Idiot Wind,” New York sessions outtake:
“Idiot Wind,” outtake — stripped down acoustic version:
“Idiot Wind,” live New Orleans May 3, 1976:
“You’re A Big Girl Now,” New York outtake, Sept. 23, 1974:
“You’re A Big Girl Now,” Jones Beach, Wantaugh, NY June 30, 1988
Plus “Up To Me,” a track recorded in New York that didn’t make the album: