There will be blood: shootout on the digital tracks

3 digital versions of a Bob Dylan masterpiece compared

Jim Esch
7 min readOct 12, 2023


There is a case to be made that Blood on Tracks is Dylan’s greatest album, though it’s hard to pick due to the many times he’s shape-shifted over the years — from the early solo folk albums to the cutting edge “gone electric” trifecta of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde, then the pivot to weird Americana and country crooning (Basement Tapes through New Morning). And that’s just the first ten years of his career! Favorite albums can vary depending on season, mood, age, and whim.

Maybe his best album?

By 1974 Dylan was wrapping up a reunion with The Band, which had produced a respectable album (Planet Waves) a long comeback tour and a popular double LP live album. His marriage however was headed down the tracks towards divorce. It was time for another career metamorphosis: Bob Dylan claiming his place as a 70's singer-songwriter troubadour.

In September 1974 Dylan walked into Columbia Studios in New York City and put to tape a set of soul-crushing tunes about the vicissitudes of love and loss. Nearly all of the New York sessions consisted of simple acoustic guitar, vocal, and bass arrangements, most in open tunings.