Book Review: A Simple Twist of Fate by Andy Gill and Kevin Odegard

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In 1974, at a time when the world was in turmoil and the music scene was filled with flamboyance and excess, Bob Dylan returned to his home state of Minnesota and re-recorded some of the most iconic songs from his legendary album Blood on the Tracks. Unknown to the album’s producer Phil Ramone, Dylan wasn’t happy with the state of the recordings and wanted some fresh perspective. With the help of his brother David, Bob recruited a cast of unknown but talented musicians and recorded some of the most endearing music of his career.

One of the “north country boys” as they were called by Rolling Stone was guitarist Kevin Odegard, who would eventually write A Simple Twist of Fate with co-author Andy Gill. Fate is a huge theme in the book, and fates change quickly and with little remorse.

Early in the book, Odegard recalls how he nearly missed his opportunity to contribute to the album when he almost ignored the ringing telephone, thinking it was the dispatcher from work trying to coerce him to come in on a cold January evening. Music store owner Chris Weber’s life was changed forever when Dylan astounded him by asking him to sit in on guitar for the recording session. Others felt bilked when their takes were cut from the album during the production process.

It’s easy to overlook how many lives are affected by the creation of an album like Blood on the Tracks. Some artists’ misfortunes are others’ lucky breaks when songs are recorded or reworked. This is one of my favorite things about this book. Authors Andy Gill and Odegard skillfully weave all the loose threads of the story into a compelling tapestry that illustrates the sheer quantity of talent and inspiration that went into creating Blood on the Tracks.

Surely, fans of Bob Dylan have a lot to appreciate about this book. They will appreciate the candid look into the recording habits and methodologies used by the folk rock genius. The authors dive into the back story surrounding many of the songs on the album and their root in real events and relationships in Dylan’s life.

You don’t have to be a die hard Dylan fan to appreciate this book, however. Anyone with an appreciate of history, especially music history, will love how the authors root their story in a relevant historical context. Those with an interest in recording and production will love the detail paid to the equipment used during the sessions. I really enjoyed how Gill and Odegard managed to wrap all this together into a compelling and engaging package that is as easy to read as it is entertaining.

A Simple Twist of Fate was published in 2004 by Da Capo Press. This article was written by John Imsdahl on behalf of carries a wide selection of band t shirts in vintage and contemporary styles.

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