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Idiot Wind by Bob Dylan

Album: Blood On The TracksReleased: 1975
  • "Idiot Wind" boasts some of Dylan's most malicious lyrics: "I can't feel you anymore/I can't even touch the books you've read/Every time I crawl past your door/I been wishin' I was somebody else instead." This song was written in the summer of 1974, when Bob was separating from his then-wife, Sara. Although Dylan has reportedly since denied this song is about his former wife, Bob and Sara's son, Jakob, claims this, and many other songs on Blood on the Tracks, are "his parents talking."
  • Dylan re-recorded this in Minnesota while visiting his brother, David. Local musicians were brought in to play with Dylan, while David helped out with production. Dylan liked the results and decided to redo 4 other songs on the album, including "Tangled Up In Blue."
  • Of the songs Dylan reworked, this one changed the most. Dylan gave it different lyrics and a faster pace than the version he first recorded in New York.
  • The musicians who played on this were not credited on the album because the packaging had already been printed with the musicians from the New York sessions getting the credit.
  • The line, "From the Grand Coulee Dam to The Capitol" indicates the length of the United States. The Grand Coulee Dam is in Washington State, The Capitol is on the other side of the country in Washington, D.C. The line is also a nod to Woody Guthrie, who wrote a song called "Grand Coulee Dam."
  • Dylan performed "Idiot Wind" on May 23, 1976, at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado. The performance is remembered for its angry, almost boisterous delivery. Sara Dylan was reportedly front row at the concert, prompting fans to believe this is why Dylan sang it with such snarling ferocity. The recording of the Fort Collins concert can be found on the live album, Hard Rain.
  • Blood On The Tracks was the first album Dylan recorded under his new contract with Columbia Records, which paid him a lot more than his old one. Dylan left Columbia a year earlier to sign with David Geffen's label, Asylum Records.
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Comments: 25

Saw this live "75" or maybe 76. No doubt he is really pissed at his wife. But watching him snarl at me (it felt personal) I began to think its also an answer to the 9 questions he posed in "Blowing in the Wind." By 75, Dylan was an adult superstar. In 62 he was just an idealistic Kid.
In the intervening 12 years not only did Dylan age an mature, but a whole lot of bad stuff went down. 74 was Watergate, and I believe the "ceremony" referred to in IDIOT is the Nixon resignation or maybe the 2nd inauguration. Another hint is that in the NYC bootleg, the line is "Grand Coulee Dam to the Mardi Gras" but in album its "Grand Coulee Dam to the CAPITOL . I think Dylan pissed off at his wife, but also the loss of the idealism of the early sixties, and he was tired of being treated as God. He was also being humble; if we really believed he was God , we were all idiots. Another clue; more simple. The juxtiposition of the two words "Wind Blowing" canat be a coincidence. Dylan is just too aware of his word choice.
Rob - Boston
Dylan sings this with such intense passion and emotions; Hootie sang it like it was a jingle for orange juice.Erik - Bloomfield Hills, Mi
Gun to my head, I would pick the Bootleg Series version of this song as my favorite Dylan song. Distilled to one verse, the verse not on the album: "We pushed each other a little too far, and one day it just turned into a ranging storm..." Distilled into one moment: "Oh, I figured I'd lost you anyway, why go on, what's the use?" The squeak in "What's the use?"

BTW the version on The Bootleg Series Vol 1-3 is different than the New York version a friend gave to me, and I don't know where he got that version. There isn't that same kind of squeak in "What's the use" so it falls short of perfection.
Christine - Underhill, Vt
i think this is one of bob dylans best songs, ive heard it a million times, blood on the tracks might be dylans best record..i first heard it on my dads record player.then i bought it on CD, its a long song but it doesnt seem that long when u listen to it..Lee - Birmingham, Al
I prefer the New York Sessions version, but the album version is angrier and fits the lyrics better.Brad - A City, Ky
***** intelligent, provocative brilliance. Blood on the Tracks defines Dylan as a poetic master. idiot wind is truly a gem but all the songs on the LP are strong . The album is his best by far .The music is beautifully arranged with vivid lyrics that evoke the listeners own emotions and experiencesTom - Sacramento, Ca
this song is another stroke of genius on behalf of dylan cant say im surprisedJohua - Sydney, Australia
There is so much rage in this one song and that is what makes it brilliant!Christy - Morristown, Tn
A line in this song, "You'll find out when you reach the top that you're on the bottom," inspired the title for U2's 1987 song, "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." During the late 80s, Dylan was a major influence and close associate of U2 as they explored American roots genres.Samuel - Singapore, Singapore
I think that this song talks about all the kind of different stories that were printed on the press about Dylan, which later transformed into rumours or gossip about him, spreading like the wind. This wind spreads faster than Dylan himself, allowing people to "know him" just by what this wind tells them. That s why people "see him all the time and cant remember how to act"..."their minds filled with distorted facts"
it gets to the point where even Dylan s wife doubts him beacuse of this idiot wind: "Even you, yesterday you had to ask me where it was at,
I couldn't believe after all these years, you didn't know me better than that
Sweet lady."
Pedro - Santiago, Chile
Can anyone tell me what other songs are referenced in that Hootie song?Mark B. Stoned - Desperate Hot Springs, Ca
My 21 year old daughter played this to me thinking I would never have heard it before; she was wrong there but we had a great few hours playing it over and over. To me this is Dylan's best song but I heard it first when i was a teenager and had feelings bigger than my spots; now i'm old and cynical but it still gets me, forces me to think and helps remove the need to beat the boss to deathPeter - Portsmouth, United Kingdom
If you're ever mad at someone, listen to this song.Henry - Baltimore, Md
a 100% right from the heart song. Truly genius.Victoria - BÃ?rum, Norway
This has got to be the all time best breaking up song. I should know as I have been breaking up with the same woman for the past year. I love the last line: "WE ARE IDIOTS BABE ITS A WONDER WE CAN EVEN FEED OURSELVES". I listen to this song on the way to work every morning (about 8 minute trip)at full vol. What a wake-up. I really wouldn't to piss Bob Dylan off.
Years ago there was always a lot of speculation as to what he (Dylan) meant in his songs, listen to the words and you don't have to speculate, I think its pretty clear................rc
Richard - St. Clair Shores, Mi
To me this song has SO many catchphrases that ring true and can be trotted out to help during tough times in a relationship, or if your trying to get over a breakup - "I haven't known peace and quiet for so long I can't remember what it's like" or "It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart" or "I can't feel you anymore, I can't even touch the books you've read Every time I crawl past your door, I been wishing I was somebody else instead". But the best line in the whole song, another great by the master Dylan, is "You'll never know the hurt I suffered not the pain I raise above "John - Worcester, Ma
This is my ultimate favorite song to listen to when I'm mad and need to vent.Happy - In The Boonies, In
The band to which you refer was Dillon Fence, from Chapel Hill, NC. On the way to Myrtle Beach from I-95 in South Carolina there is a town called Dillon with a big fence festooned with all sorts of pop/salvage detritus. This band named themselves after that fence.David - Decatur, Ga
Actually, the "put on a little Dylan, sitting on a fence" line is an homage to Dylan Fence, another South Carolina bar band that did the circuit with Hootie.

Always thought it was a bit odd for Dylan to sue the Blowfish. Considering all the uproar about his Blood and Theft lyrics being lifted from a Japanese novel, the direct lift of Proust and Twain in Chronicles, et al.

The line twixt plagiarism and inspiration really depends on whether your the inspired or the inspiration, doesn't it?

That said, Bob's still a genius. And Idiot Wind may be the greatest pissed-off song of all time. The sneer in his voice when he says "boxcar" alone is enough to let you know how ticked he was.
Tom - Lawrence, Ks
anger and disgust are very similar. my top angry Dylan tune.Stainer - Nyc, Ny
I can't believe there aren't more comments on this song. This is a song that means different things to different people, to some it displays anger, to others it may it may be about disgust. I just play it loud.Rodney - Charleston, Wv
The live version rocks on the "Hard Rain" album.Rodney - Dunbar, Wv
Dylan was incredible at being able to take a personal emotion/idea/concept and make it universal. I think all art is about that. "Positively 4th Street" is another song that is a good example of this.

The New York version of this song is slower and longer. In fact, the New York sessions seemed to have a more dour mood over it, I guess for some obvious reasons. When he went to Minnesota later, after listening to the album, he decided to re-record it, to "pep" it up a bit, it seems to me.

Years ago, after I heard both versions of this album (constructing a copy of it myself to represent the NY sessions), I decided-- no, I felt compelled-- to write an essay about my thoughts on the differences between the NY and Minnesota sessions for "Blood On the Tracks". That is how much of an effect this album had on me.

There are only five other albums that have been just as thought-provoking: Lou Reed's "Berlin", "Magic and Loss", and "Songs For Drella", Todd Rundgren's "A Wizard, A True Star", and Joni Mitchell's "Hejira".
Ralph - Middletown, Ny
This is what Dylan's all about pure bitterness and pure from the heart poeticness. There's nothing like it.Dan - Lee, Nh
Dylan sued Hootie and the Blowfish for extensively quoting this song in their hit "I Only Want to Be With You." The prefaced the quote by singing "Put on a little Dylan, sitting on a fense..." and ended it with "Ain't Bobby so cool," just to make sure you knew they were quoting Dylan. Unfortunately, they never received Dylan's permission first. The suit settled out of court.Matthew - New York, Ny
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