Blood in the Tracks

The Minnesota Musicians behind Dylan's Masterpiece

2023
Authors:

Paul Metsa and Rick Shefchik

The story of the Minneapolis musicians unexpectedly summoned to re-record half of the songs on Bob Dylan's most acclaimed album

Blood in the Tracks tells the story of two nights in Minneapolis when six Minnesota musicians participated in a recording session with Bob Dylan as he re-recorded five songs on Blood on the Tracks, bringing their unique sound to some of Dylan’s best-known songs—only to have their names left off the album and their contribution unacknowledged for more than forty years.

When Bob Dylan recorded Blood on the Tracks in New York in September 1974, it was a great album. But it was not the album now ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the ten best of all time. “When something’s not right, it’s wrong,” as Dylan puts it in “You’re Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go”—and something about that original recording led him to a studio in his native Minnesota to re-record five songs, including “Idiot Wind” and “Tangled Up in Blue.” Six Minnesota musicians participated in that two-night recording session at Sound 80, bringing their unique sound to some of Dylan’s best-known songs—only to have their names left off the album and their contribution unacknowledged for more than forty years. This book tells the story of those two nights in Minneapolis, introduces the musicians who gave the album so much of its ultimate form and sound, and describes their decades-long fight for recognition.

Blood in the Tracks takes readers behind the scenes with these “mystery” Minnesota musicians: twenty-one-year-old mandolin virtuoso Peter Ostroushko; drummer Bill Berg and bass player Billy Peterson, the house rhythm section at Sound 80; progressive rock keyboardist Gregg Inhofer; guitarist Chris Weber, who owned The Podium guitar shop in Dinkytown; and Kevin Odegard, whose own career as a singer-songwriter had paralleled Dylan’s until he had to take a job as a railroad brakeman to make ends meet. Through in-depth interviews and assiduous research, Paul Metsa and Rick Shefchik trace the twists of fate that brought these musicians together and then set them on different paths in its wake: their musical experiences leading up to the December 1974 recording session, the divergent careers that followed, and the painstaking work required to finally obtain the official credit that they were due.

A rare look at the making—or remaking—of an all-time great album, and a long overdue recognition of the musicians who made it happen, Blood in the Tracks brings to life a transformative moment in the history of rock and roll, for the first time in its true context and with its complete cast of players.

Paul Metsa is a musician and songwriter with twelve original records to his credit, as well as an autobiography, Blue Guitar Highway, also published by University of Minnesota Press. He has played more than five thousand professional gigs—including at Farm Aid V in Dallas in 1992, the Tribute to Woody Guthrie at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C., in 1999—and has received seven Minnesota Music Awards. His self-published Alphabet Jazz: Poetry, Prose, Stories, and Songs was released in September of 2022.

Rick Shefchik spent almost thirty years in daily journalism, mostly as a critic, reporter, and columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He is author of several books, including Everybody’s Heard about the Bird: The True Story of 1960s Rock ’n’ Roll in Minnesota (Minnesota, 2015).

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