Simple Twist Of Fate

Album: Blood on the Tracks (1974)


  • This song is from Blood on the Tracks, the 15th studio album by Bob Dylan, which made the album charts at #1 in the US and #4 in the UK. Blood on the Tracks is also legendary amongst Bob Dylan fans and critics, regarded as one of the high points of his career and standard against which future Bob Dylan albums were compared.
  • Dylan's son Jakob Dylan has stated that the songs from Blood on the Tracks are "his parents talking." Although Dylan denies that the album content is autobiographical, most of the lyrics have a confessional nature.
  • Covers of "Simple Twist of Fate" include Joan Baez (1975), The Jerry Garcia Band (1991), Concrete Blonde (1994), Sean Costello (2005), The Format (2005), Bryan Ferry (2007), Jeff Tweedy (2007), and Stephen Fretwell (2007). The Jeff Tweedy cover was also used on the soundtrack for the film I'm Not There .

Comments: 4

  • Danny from Bronx, NyJoan Baez has an interesting cover of this, in which she sings one verse (the one about waking up, and the room being bare) in an imitation of Dylan's voice. She also makes several changes to the song's lyrics: the saxophone plays somewhere nearby, rather than far off, the reference to the talking parrot is omitted (the line is replaced by "small waves whisper to the rocks"), "Maybe she'll pick him out again" becomes "Perhaps he'll see her once again", and the whole last verse is changed around. Instead of talking about a "sin", she talks about a "crime":
    "People tell me it's a crime/To feel to much at any one time/All it cost me was a dime/But the bells refuse to ring", and "He [rather than She] was born in spring". What do these changes mean? I haven't a clue.
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaLol, I only visit this site once in a while but it cracks me up to read what people say they feel the meanings behind any of the songs on songfacts are. This one pretty much takes the cake so far. I thought I did too much, I haven't touched the surface of thought after reading this from the dude in Italy.
  • Alex from Gillingham, United KingdomGreat song, great album. One of two vinyl records that I own, and the first one that I bought. The other is Fresh Cream.
  • Alberto from Roma, ItalyThe woman is a prostitute ("he wished he'd gone straight"), he picks her up and takes her to a "strange hotel". Then the "twist of fate" happens: he and she "switch" their fates, their destinies: it's she who pays someone after leaving the hotel ("drops a coin.."; and the "blind man" represents HIM, who couldn't see what was happening inside him), it's she who may "pick him up again", while now he is spending his time at the waterfront dock: literally, he is a sailor now (the "parrot"), but actually he acts just like a prostitute does: he is the prostitute now, waiting to be picked up, waiting for sailors to come in. The song, therefore, is about a twist of fate, a "switching of lives", between the two persons: he "felt a spark" but didn't care to follow it ("he told himself he didn't care"), and now it's he who is desperate and needs love in order to survive, while she's gone away, therefore she is free. With the last verse, Dylan connects the story he just told with something real: he puts in relation the story, which is a "fiction", to something different, but deeply similar, that really happened (but we cannot say for sure that it is autobiographical; it may be, or it may be fiction too, on a different level of reading). This is my reading of this song. Ciao, Alberto (Italy)
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