Bob Dylan once introduced this album's opening song, "Tangled Up in Blue," onstage as taking him ten years to live and two years to write. It was, for him, a pointed reference to the personal crisis — the collapse of his marriage to Sara Lowndes — that at least partly inspired this album, Dylan's best of the 1970s. In fact, he wrote all of these lyrically piercing, gingerly majestic folk-pop songs in two months, in mid-1974. He was so proud of them that he privately auditioned almost all of the album, from start to finish, for pals and peers including Mike Bloomfield, David Crosby and Graham Nash before cutting them in September — in just a week with members of the bluegrass band Deliverance. But in December, Dylan played the record for his brother David in Minneapolis, who suggested recutting some songs with local musicians. The final Blood was a mix of New York and Minneapolis tapes; Dylanologists still debate the merits of the two sessions. Yet no one disputes the album's luxuriant tangle of guitars, the gritty directness in Dylan's voice and the magnificent confessional force of his writing: in the existentialist jewel "Simple Twist of Fate," the wrung-dry goodbye of "If You See Her, Say Hello" and the sharp-tongued opprobrium of "Idiot Wind," his greatest put-down song since "Like a Rolling Stone."