That Thin Wild Mercury Sound by Daryl Sanders Turns Readers into Blonde On Blonde Insiders

Dylan, Nashville and the Making of Blonde On Blonde.

Ed Newman
5 min readJan 9, 2020


Photo by Katy Anne on Unsplash. Colors modified by the author.

This past October I listened to an audio version of Daryl Sanders’ That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound. It was great. So much so that I asked for it — and received it — for Christmas. And yes, I’m reading it again.

Public domain.

The book is self-described like this: “That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound is the definitive treatment of Bob Dylan’s magnum opus, Blonde on Blonde, not only providing the most extensive account of the sessions that produced the trailblazing album, but also setting the record straight on much of the misinformation that has surrounded the story of how the masterpiece came to be made.”

Four things are impressive here. First, how much homework Mr. Sanders has done, tracking down every living person who was in Studio A when this album was produced. Second, how much access Sanders gained to the session tapes so that it’s as if the reader were a fly on the wall while these songs were being recorded. Third, how well written the book is so that you can’t put it down. And fourth, how badly I wanted to listen to Blonde On Blonde upon finishing the book, which I immediately did.

And that last point is the one I really wanted to make. I own and have read maybe 30 or more Dylan books, but I can’t recall ever having a book take me so forcefully back into an album in quite this way before. The descriptions of each session are so vivid, showing how the artist did his magic, how the things he was doing were so totally different from anything that ever preceded it.

I wan’t the only one to feel this way. Debbie Mac, one of the reviewers at, made a similar statement: I’m not even that much of a Bob Dylan fan, but, when I finished the book, I immediately downloaded a few Blonde on Blonde songs. Having witnessed their intimate creation, I listened with a new ear.

Not only does Sanders give you a front row seat regarding how the songs were written and produced…



Ed Newman

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon