The recording of this started in New York, but then switched to Nashville and its session musicians and the predecessors of The Band came on board allowing Dylan to take blues and folk-rock into yet another direction. There are a lot of love (ending) songs, and critically acclaimed lyrics that make Blonde On Blonde an essential.
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again and Rainy Day Women see Dylan in fun form, saying ‘relax’. Pledging My Time is more Chicago blues, defined by Robbie Robertson’s guitar lead. One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later), is a song of ended love, as is the slow-blues Temporary Like Achilles. Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat sees Dylan in sarcastic, jealous put-down form about a former lover.
4th Time Around and I Want You are about love. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine) is a blues beat about parting lovers, and Absolutely Sweet Marie is a Memphis- influenced love song of sorts. Obviously 5 Believers is called a ‘roadhouse blues’ number and Visions Of Johanna is in a different league, about being stranded.
But it’s the epic Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands, over 11 minutes of surreal poetry about the female figure that sets it apart. Images galore peg it as an ode to his wife Sara Lownds. It’s a list song, in 6/8 waltz arrangement with Dylan on acoustic guitar and harmonica. The musicians were all expecting a three minute song, but in the studio, Dylan just kept on with new verses.
Listen: rather ironically, Dylan's ex lover Joan Baez covering Sad Eyed Lady...