Bob Dylan’s More Blood, More Tracks landed on shelves earlier this month, finally letting fans into the creative process that produced Blood on the Tracks across just six days in 1974. Previously unheard solo acoustic renditions of the tunes are a revelation, as are the numerous attempts to record the songs with a rotating crew of musicians that often had trouble finding the right groove with the unfamiliar material.
Unlike many past chapters of the Bootleg Series, there isn’t any live material due to the simple fact that he didn’t launch a sort of tour in support of Blood on the Tracks. When he finally hit the road in late 1975, he’d already recorded Desire and the Blood on the Tracks songs took a backseat. Many of them didn’t surface until the tail end of the tour in 1976 when his marriage to Sara Lownds was finally broken beyond repair and he needed the songs to vent. Suddenly, “Sara” was out of the setlist and in its place was “Idiot Wind.” He also began playing “You’re a Big Girl Now” and “If You See Her, Say Hello.”
But there are three songs from Blood On The Tracks that have only been played in concert a single time throughout Dylan’s entire career. The first one, “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts,” was only performed in Salt Lake City at the final date of the Rolling Thunder Revue in May of 1976. This has caused endless debate in Dylan circles because there’s no tape of the show, but contemporaneous newspaper reviews say he played it and several fans there that night remember it. Sadly, it’s the only show from the tour that Dylan’s own team didn’t even record, so we’ll never get to hear it unless a bootleg magically surfaces some day.
“Meet Me In The Morning” didn’t appear in a Dylan show until he played Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on September 19th, 2007 and Jack White came out to sing it. Dylan was technically onstage for this and he strummed along, but White sang every word of the thing and took a guitar solo. It still counts as a Dylan performance, but only by the thinnest of margins. This was basically Jack White playing it with Dylan’s band while the man himself looked on with amusement.
Then there’s “Buckets of Rain.” The final song on Blood on the Tracks was untouched until Dylan came to Detroit’s Fox Theater on November 18th, 1990. His shows were wildly unpredictable affairs at this point, which he proved by opening up the show with “Buckets of Rain” completely out of nowhere. Hilariously, this fan recording of the big moment begins with a stern warning against taping the show. “Welcome to the Fox,” says an announcer. “We’d like to remind you that the use of cameras or recording devices of any kind if strictly prohibited. This policy is strictly enforced and we’d appreciate your cooperation.”
As you’ll hear right here by the brave soul that flagrantly ignored all those warnings, Dylan changes around some of the words in the song and even flips around some verses, but it’s still a genuine performance of “Buckets of Rain” that, unlike the other Blood on the Tracks one-offs, can’t be disputed in any way. And just like the others, he never did it again.