Discounting the unaccountable misdirection of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”, this is an album of songs about love, romance, sex — mostly sex. You could think of it as Dylan’s Smiles Of A Summer Night — a roundelay of amorous interludes recounting a young man’s erotic adventures in the downtown world of New York in the 1960s.
Before Blonde On Blonde Dylan’s love songs had been either songs of worship or songs of rueful farewell. Things get more complicated here — worship and rue get subsumed in bewilderment and awe. The album ends, as Smiles Of A Summer Night ends, with a lyrical paean — in this case to the woman Dylan would soon marry.
Sad Eyed Lady Of the Lowlands was, however, only a first-act ending — the third act would play out in excruciating pain on a later album, Blood On the Tracks. But this album captured forever the feckless romance of youth in Manhattan before Manhattan became a posthumous realm, a yuppie feedlot.