Please put down your pencils….the QUIZ is over. Calling all Bob Dylan experts: here is what five of you got right, and the rest of you…well, didn’t

So, the contest closed last night. Thanks to everyone who took a shot, or just entered. (A couple of you didn’t even try to guess, but at least you entered for random consideration).

I have notified all the straight-up winners already, so if you did not receive an email from me saying you won, well, unfortunately you did not win a free pre-release BOB DYLAN Archive (although you may still win a nice discount– those will be announced tomorrow). I will post something different about the winners—to follow.

Amazingly, only five entries had all the correct responses. So the five of you, I salute you—and I bet a lot of people out there reading this do as well.
Two additional winners were picked from the ten or so of you who got only one wrong (though a wide variety of which one you got wrong)–Hey, I salue you all too–it was hard.

I read through hundreds of Bob Dylan album reviews in assembling the BOB DYLAN Archive Catalography (discography book).
I was so close to it that, I honestly did not know how difficult this quiz would be.
I knew it would be tricky, and threw in a curveball or two to make it a little more challenging….but I still thought i’d be overwhelmed with correct answers.
No reflection on you all– I think it just shows something about the nature of the critical review–even dedicated fans can’t always tell which albums the critics are even writing about!
But, you all seemed to appreciate the challenge (even the woman who nicknamed it “Box of Torture”).

The BOB DYLAN Archive goes on sale on Thursday, at I will of course remind you here (but if you want to get a direct email, please sign up at

Alright, enough with the plugs, here are the answers.
I will do in a few posts, otherwise this will be one huge post, and I feel like a huge windbag already……

Here are the first two:


[It] is a hauntingly beautiful work—a wise, thoughtful and, far from least, joyously musical album. Not only is Dylan singing with more boldness and confidence than ever, but the new material is rich with the deeply personal themes and immensely quotable lyrics that have characterized his best songs. ….Unlike his early protest material, Dylan’s new songs are more personal than social, more built around the concept of self-reliance than collective action. There’s an overriding sense of sometimes comforting, but always useful self- exploration in the album—a process that has apparently brought much strength and inner peace to him.
….There are only a few times when a pop music album reaches beyond its surface entertainment level to truly touch its audience on a personal, emotional scale. Dylan, more than anyone else in the rock era, has bridged that gap. He has done it once again… It’s a brilliant return to form.


This is from a review by ROBERT HILBURN, in the Los Angeles Times, on January 20, 1974.

This was apparently the hardest question, as very very few of you got it right.
Many of you thought this was about Blood On the Tracks. And I have to admit, I threw in Blood On The Tracks as the red herring to confuse you. In fact, Blood On The Tracks is not the correct answer to any of the questions.
I thought I tipped that off when I said “I was not looking for Blood.”

I think the best clues here is the seemingly very relevant reference to Dylan’s protest material, which would seem to be a little out of place by the time of Blood On The Tracks, and calling this album a “return to form.” This would seem to be overlooking Planet Waves entirely if this was a Blood On The Tracks review. Even more so, that is why this would not be Desire, as a number of you thought (wouldn’t saying Desire, which would really be dismissive of Blood On The Tracks?…and certainly not Street Legal at which point it really would have been strange to be referring to Dylan’s protest material so prominently as a point of reference, and calling Street Legal a “return to form” would have been dismissive of both studio albums that came chronologically right before it (but of course, see the later question where Street Legal is the correct answer, in a review by the same critic!). In any case–this was a tough one to figure out.


The album…contains some of the most wonderful music Mr. Dylan had ever made, and it’s the music that will assure its place in our affections…..There seems to be some feeling of disappointment about [the] music …. It’s [too] similar in mood, they feel, lacking in energy and excitement after the best of Mr. Dylan’s sets during the [last] tour. This listener disagrees. The Dylan sets on tour were wonderful, but so is [this] in its own more focused way. And if there are similar musical devices in many songs, they bind the record together as a whole far more effectively than the sometimes labored literary devices of many “concept albums.”…..A wonderful record.


This is from a review by JOHN ROCKWELLin The New York Times on January 9, 1976.

Another tough one. Again, a lot of guesses that this was Blood On the Tracks. The reference to the tour that preceeded the album is of course a reference to the Rolling Thunder tour, which is probably the strongest clue– the direct relevance of the tour from which this album sprung in large part. As i had said in a post, I was not looking for blood, just a little desire.

Continued in next post….



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2 responses to “Please put down your pencils….the QUIZ is over. Calling all Bob Dylan experts: here is what five of you got right, and the rest of you…well, didn’t

  1. Jordan

    On March 6, 2011, you wrote: “The BOB DYLAN Archive goes on sale on Thursday, at” I assumed you mean the following Thursday, March 10, but since that was not the case, I wonder which Thursday it will be?

    • We had a momentary delay. I am hopeful we can now launch this on Tuesday…a couple of logisitcal things that we are straightening out..please bear with me!

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