Five absolutely perfect albums from the 1970s

The 1970s was one of the more eclectic decades for music.
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I had another Bob Dylan album on my 1960s perfect album list. Don’t worry, I have no intention of turning to him again. But I cannot leave Blood on the Tracks off this list because I think it may be the greatest single-disk album ever created. As we’ve already discussed, greatness and perfection are not always synonymous. In this case, they are.

Dylan was already a legend by 1975. A mysterious legend. He had changed stripes several times in his career – from folkie to rock star to country singer to just a lot of avant-garde weirdness. A devastating motorcycle accident had kept him out of the public eye for almost a decade, but he had recently shown a return to form. There was his epic Tour ’74 with The Band, and their collaboration on the Planet Waves album a year earlier.

But nothing prepared us for Blood on the Tracks. Right from the opener, “Tangled Up in Blue,” Dylan showed he was at his absolute peak, writing songs about relationships that dwarfed what even many would-be poets had accomplished. Dylan’s marriage to Sarah Lownds was in the process of dissolving, and songs like “Simple Twist of Fate,” “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” and “If You See Her Say Hello” are almost too painfully personal to listen to.

The bitterness of “Idiot Wind” and the tenderness of “Buckets of Rain” constitute as wide a range of emotions as two songs can manage. And, just for fun, he tosses in one of his sensational short stories – the nine-minute “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.” The following year, he would follow Blood…with the almost-as-perfect Desire.