In 1974, Bob Dylan was looking for renewal. His marriage to his wife, Sara, was headed for divorce. Over the previous few years, he’d left Columbia Records and the music he was making was indistinct and not well received.
That year I was working at A and R Recording Studios in New York City. Phil Ramone, the owner and “R” in A and R, was to eventually go on to become a legendary producer after working with Billy Joel on “The Stranger.” At that point, he was merely one of the world’s greatest recording engineers. I was his personal assistant engineer.
In September, Phil came to me with exciting news. Dylan was coming in to record his new album with us. The record marked Dylan’s return to Columbia. He would celebrate his renewal in other ways as well. We’d begin recording on September 16th, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. The recording was to take place in the studio where he had recorded his first.
A and R’s studio A-1 was on the 7th floor of 799 7th Avenue on 52nd Street in New York City. It had once been Columbia’s studio, where Dylan had done his early work, but they had sold it to Ramone and company in 1968. This was Columbia’s earliest recording room, operational since the 1930’s. The walls rang with the echoes of sessions with artists from Sinatra to Streisand. Not least of the astounding hits recorded there was “Like a Rolling Stone,” Dylan’s signature.
(click here to continue reading Shrinky | Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks: The Untold Story.)