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PostPosted: Mon November 23rd, 2009, 20:55 GMT 

Joined: Thu August 30th, 2007, 22:44 GMT
Posts: 3982
As with IDIOT WIND, I find that take selected for the test pressing is markedly superior to the one officially released on The Bootleg Series, and while I'm not trying to set up a contest between it and the final album version I do think it is very worth hearing, so I've uploaded it to Sendspace for the benefit of anyone who hasn't:


It's a very interesting take on the song that is completely different from the album version and IMO much better than the BS2 version.

PostPosted: Tue November 24th, 2009, 20:32 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
Posts: 1519
Location: City of Angels
My first bootleg ever was Apollo Landing from 1993. All I had known up until that moment was the albums. I hadn't even seen him live yet despite hearing so many wild things about his live performances through the years. When I popped it in the first time, I was thrilled by what I was hearing. Living, breathing, epic versions of all my favorite songs with a band that was as creative and durable as any I've ever heard.
In my book, there are only three things that are underrated in the Bob Dylan universe and they are
1. Winston Watson
2. Bucky Baxter
3. JJ Jackson
These guys, night after night, have delivered some of the finest rock concerts I've still ever heard to this day. The exploratory nature of the shows in 1993 certainly have given them a reputation of being redundant and meandering. But that most certainly is a falsehood once you listen to a few shows.
For me, Tangled Up In Blue was the epitome of those shows. Obviously adopting the methods employed by the Grateful Dead, who adopted their methods of playing from the jazz greats of their youth, TUIB generally clocked in at around 11-12 minutes. As it evolved through 93-94, Bob & the boys transformed the song into a grand display of experimentation, digging into the melody as he'd never done before. What's most incredible about these musicians is their ability to find wholly new ways to tell the story night after night within this framework and most nights from 93 on, they'd pull it off ferociously. Some nights, probably because of Bob, it'd be a little slower and a whole new side of the song was found.
And then there would be those nights where Tangled could rock on forever and you'd still yearn for more, despite the fact that the song had finished being sung 3 minutes ago.
There's at least 10 of those from 93 that I'd post if I had the time but instead I'll just put the one that stands out the most for me. To put it simply, this is grand rock'n'roll. Anyone who thinks Bob sucks at guitar should hear this. The exploratory interplay is simply jaw-dropping, his vocal delivery of the song is jaw-dropping, Tony's bass line just kills, and there's a rare fantastic harp solo (for this arrangement) here that's merely the killer icing on the cake.

Tel Aviv Israel
June 17 1993

PostPosted: Wed November 25th, 2009, 00:08 GMT 
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Joined: Tue April 7th, 2009, 23:02 GMT
Posts: 185
Something Clever wrote:
siruso wrote:
This song is ridiculously good.

But yeah, I'm not such a fan of the live versions from the last twenty years. He did some great acoustic ones in '84 or so if I recall correctly.

Yeah, in Rome I think. Great rewrite!


This has absolutely nothing to do with the topic...but is that a picture of Bob fist-bumping Donnie as your avatar?

YES! It is! I've been waiting for someone to notice lol. its from the philadelphia performance this year, I got the dvd off dime (which is in incredible quality, but he converted it to standard even though he recorded in HD!!!!)

Its at the end of All Along the Watchtower and is deliciously awkward. I think this is what happened: Donnie was stoked about the performance and sorta does a tiger woods fist clutch and Dylan, being also stoked about the song, misinterprets it as a fist bump opportunity. So he goes in for the fist bump, Donnie realizes what he wants and tries to switch it to a fist bump and then Dylan realizes that he was mistaken and tries to turn it into a point and they both kinda miss. I love stage antics.


p.s. there were a lot of times when Donnie seemed very excited and clapped his hands after songs, and Dylan looked back smiling too!

PostPosted: Sun October 16th, 2011, 00:54 GMT 
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Joined: Sun January 4th, 2009, 23:46 GMT
Posts: 5281

Dylan / Cameron Crowe

When listeners first dropped the needle on Blood On The Tracks, this was the song they heard. Tangled Up In Blue set a strong standard for an album that did not disappoint. Heralded as one of his best story-songs, Dylan still continued to work on Tangled Up In Blue long after its release. The longer rewritten version appears on Real Live. “On Real Live, it’s more like it should have been,” said Dylan, “I was never really happy with it. I guess I was just trying to make it like a painting where you can see the different parts but then you also see the whole of it. With that particular song, that’s what I was trying to do – with the concept of time and the way the characters change from the first person to the third person, and you’re never quite sure if the third person is talking or the first person is talking. But as you look at the whole thing it really doesn’t matter. On Real Live, the imagery is better and more the way I would have liked it than on the original recording.”

John Bauldie

In September 1974, Dylan recorded the songs for Blood On The Tracks in New York City with a simple, spare backing on bass (Tony Brown), organ (Paul Griffin) and steel guitar (Buddy Cage). Ten songs were pressed up on a promotional disc which was sent out in very limited quantities to selected radio stations in November 1974, anticipating the LP’s release in December 1974. Two other songs recorded in New York, Up To Me (later to be released on Biograph) and Call Letter Blues (heard on this collection for the first time), were left unused. However, when Dylan played what was supposed to be his new record over the Christmas holidays in Minnesota, he pronounced himself dissatisfied (“I thought the songs could have sounded differently, better), and decided to re-record several of the tracks.

Although Blood On The Tracks is generally regarded as one of Dylan’s finest LPs, the rejected original New York takes turn out to be no less impressive than those which were included on the album.

There is further evidence of Dylan’s experiments with changing pronouns in this song to give ever-shifting perspectives on the song’s narrative (something which he has continued to explore in live versions of the song). Both in the song itself, and in Blood On The Tracks as a whole, Dylan has admitted to writing in a particular way, and of his having been inspired to do so by a painting-cum-philosophy teacher named Norman Raeben, with whom he studied in New York for several months in 1974.

“Everybody agrees that was pretty different,” Dylan said of the album, “What’s different about it is that there is a code in the lyrics, and there’s no sense of time.” Later, he was to elaborate, “the songs have the break-up of time, where there is no time, trying to make the focus as strong as a magnifying glass under the sun. To do that consciously is a trick, and I did it on Blood On The tracks for the first time. I knew how to do it because of the technique I learned – I actually had a teacher for it.”

In the jacket notes to Biograph, Dylan talked to Cameron Crowe specifically about Tangled Up In Blue,. “I was trying to make it like a paintingwhere you can see the different parts, but then you also see the whole of it. With that particular song, that’s what I was trying to do – with the concept of time, and the way the characters change from the first person to the third person, and you’re never quite sure if the third person is talking or the first person is talking. But as you look at the whole thing, it really doesn’t matter.”

Incidentally, the odd clattering noise to be heard on the track is caused by the buttons on Dylan’s jacket sleeve hitting the guitar as he played.

Robert Shelton

Although the second album printing reveals a mottle-hued Dylan contemplating a blood-red backdrop, the predominant colour is blue. The blues can be sprightly, and the album takes off with a sense of motion. There is a wistful searching, the quest myrth again, but perhaps he always looks for the same thing in a lot of people, and always ends up contemplating the mirror of his self. Dylan puns, as the “day the axe just fell” in the woods – a phrase out of common parlance, “keep on keepin’ on”, is returned, renewed, to the language. The Dante allusion remains ambiguous. In the New York tape and the folio, the poet dates from the 13th century, while the record makes it the 15th. (Dante’s work spanned the 14th and 15th centuries). Literary expert Wallace Fowlie reportedly thinks Dylan echoes a poet friend of Dante, Guido Cavalcanti. A new sort of road song, in which a dried out spirit, not dusty boots, recalls his long march. Did not take the right turns? Dylan prefers the Real Live version.

Christopher Ricks

Driving into love, and reversing out of it. Into...? Pain, stoicism, no recrimination. "There was music in the cafes at night/And revolution in the air". The air is where it stayed, that 1960s revolution. "So now I'm going back again". The song, though, doesn't just go back again, it knows how to keep on keeping on, with its refrain unwinding, unendingly mysterious. We know about feeling blue, and about the blues, but what is it, to be "tangled up in blue"? The colour is as deep as sky or sea.

Nigel Williamson

There are those who will tell you that the opening track of Blood On The Tracks is the finest song Dylan has ever written, “A truly extraordinary epic of the personal, an unreliable narrative carved out of shifting memories like a five-and-a-half-minute Proust, “ Neil McCormick wrote in a critical reassessment of the album in 2003. Dylan himself claimed that Tangled Up In Blue took him “ten years to love (live?) and ywo years to write.” Like much of the rest of the album, it was inspired by his estrangement from his wife Sara, the mother of his children and the healer of his soul, the dream woman he had idealised in Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands.

Written while staying on his farm in Minnesota in July 1994 with his children, but without his wife, the song went through at least two “final” versions. The first was recorded in New York on 16 September 1974 and featured on the test pressings of the album that were sent out in November 1974. Over Christmas, Dylan asked his brother David’s opinion of the album and, on his recommendation, cut fresh versions of several songs – with unknown local musicians in a Minneapolis studio on 30 December 1974. The re-takes included Tangled Up In Blue, and this is the version that appeared on the album when it reached the shops less than three weeks later, on 17 January 1975.

The construction of the song is fascinating for the way that the meeting of the lovers, their relationship and the narrator’s reflections are jumbled together during the seven verses, each of which captures a different fragment of the story. Dylan later revealed that he had attempted to capture the technique of a painter. “I was trying to do something that I didn’t think had ever been done before. I wanted to defy time, so that the story took place in the present and the past at the same time. When you look at a painting, you can see any part of it, or see it all together. I wanted that song to be like a painting.” Later, during his “born-again” phase, he changed some of the lyrics and introduced a biblical reference. A version of the song with revised words appeared on the 1984 album, Real Live.

What Sara Dylan made of it, we shall probably never know. With great dignity, in all the years since their divorce, she has never publicly spoken about their 12-year marriage.

Paul Williams

One example of what Dylan might mean by "doing con¬sciously what I used to do unconsciously" is his shifting use of personal pronouns in Tangled Up In Blue. I have called attention to this in discussing the early songs – for instance, When The Ship Comes In is third person for the first five verses, then a second person element ("your weary toes") is introduced in verse six, and finally in the last verse the first person involvement that has been suggested from the start becomes explicit ("we'll shout from the bow"). It seems fair to say that the song just turned out this way; Dylan probably did not think about when to withhold or insert first or second person pronouns while he was doing the writing.

It seems equally clear that the ambiguity between "she" in the first two verses of Tangled Up In Blue and "she" in the fourth and fifth verses is something Dylan was fully aware of as he worked on this song. The version of Tangled Up In Blue – the very word suggests the way close interpersonal contact can blur the lines between "you" and "me" and "he" or between the various "she"s in one's life – included on Blood On The Tracks is fairly straightforward, first person narrative all the way (except maybe for the mysterious intrusion of "them" and "he" in verse six). But the potential for identity switch¬ing is constantly present right under the surface of the song's structure, and in the original (New York) recording Dylan sang "he" (was laying in bed, was standing by the road) for the first three verses, suddenly switching to first person in the fourth. In later live performances the pronouns jump all over the place, Dylan having fun with the song's fluidity (and occasionally getting totally lost within it).

So this time he knows what he's doing. But the breakthrough is not Dylan being aware of his use of such techniques (he was talking about this sort of thing at least as far back as 1968) but rather his ability to be conscious of what he is doing and still have it come out as magical and mysterious and pregnant as it did when he was an unconscious arrogant whiz kid who never even thought about looking back.

There is a point, in other words, in a creator's life, where one can no longer pretend not to know certain things; and this knowl¬edge or awareness becomes an insurmountable burden to new creation unless one learns methods for completely accepting and assimilating it (going through self-consciousness back to unself-consciousness) and thereby regaining freedom.

JJ Staples - Mojo 2005 Readers Poll #5

Bohemian film noir, and a testament of the times as a pinnacle of cinematic songwriting. Crucial.

Gaz Coombes (Supergrass) – Mojo 100 Greatest Dylan Songs #15

I have to say I prefer the demo versions that are out there (one on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3, another on the Blood On The Tapes bootleg) to the one on Blood On The Tracks. They are quite slow, downbeat versions of the song and that is what I love about them. They are just acoustic guitar, bass and vocals, and they are just beautiful. They sound more emotional, more contemplative, whereas the version on Blood On The Tracks is quite bouncy. The demos are written in the third person, like he is telling a story about someone else, then when you hear it on Blood On The Tracks he uses “I” which makes you wonderwhether it was actually about him all along. But musically, I prefer the versions on Blood On The Tapes. I discovered Blood On The Tapes when a Mojo writer told me about it, so thanks for that.

Michael Gray

This opening song from Blood on the Tracks deals with the way in which many forces—past upon present, public upon privacy, distance upon friendship, disintegration upon love—are further tangled and reprocessed by time. It’s a scintillating account of a career and a love affair and of how they intertwine. It becomes a viable history of 15 years through one man’s eyes, and in its realism and mental alertness it offers a vigorous challenge to all the poses of wasted decay that most ‘intelligent’ rock has been marketing since the fall from grace of 1960s optimism.

As it would need to be, Dylan’s writing here is chiseled by the full concentration of his artistry. He can coin a new mode of expression with an almost in-passing agility—‘Later on when the crowd thinned out / I was about to do the same’—and there is the wit, tossed out as if it were easy, and there too is the bubbling spontaneity that Dylan achieves within the disciplined limits of a strikingly precise verse-structure.

(The deft trick of Dylan’s formulation here is reminiscent of something that Colin Wilson, in The Outsider, 1956, picks out of Jean-Paul Sartre’s first novel La Nause´e [Nausea], 1937, in which the narrator says of a cafe´ patron that ‘When his place empties, his head empties also.’)

Dylan makes the exacting verse structure work for him so well. There is, for instance, a rhyming spill-over towards the end of each verse, like this: ‘I was standin’ on the side of the road / Rain fallin’ on my shoes / Headin’ out for the east coast / Lord knows I paid some dues / Getting through / Tangled up in blue.’ It is there as that fourth line (rhyming with the second) spills over into the short fifth line (which rhymes with the sixth). As we listen to the song, these short spill-overs become more and more stabbing in their emotional effect as they become at the same time more and more agile and clever as rhymes. As here: ‘She studied the lines of my face / I must admit I felt a little uneasy / When she bent down to tie the lace- / -s of my shoe—/ Tangled up in blue’; and finally, triumphantly, here in the last verse: ‘But me I’m still on the road / Headin’ for another joint / We always did feel the same / We just saw it from a different point / Of view—/ Tangled up in blue.’

Beyond that wonderful use of a formal, limiting shape and structure to yield scintillating leaps of feeling and expression, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ contains a whole assortment of verbal spikes and explosions that all operate not as distractions from the main body of feeling in the song but as ways of evoking the emotional complexity and urgency of it all. That Dylan can make time, in the course of what is delivered as a fast, breathless narrative, for flashes like this—‘I had a job in the Great North Woods . . . / But I never did like it all that much / And one day the axe just fell’—shows an alertness and mental dexterity that augments the emotional seriousness and depth of the song. And there is an accompanying dexterity of sketching in, quick as a flash, a whole range of universally recognizable moments in fresh, intensely accurate strokes of language, from the evoked dialogue with inbuilt self-mockery here—‘She lit a burner on the stove / And offered me a pipe / ‘‘I thought you’d never say hello,’’ she said / ‘‘You look like the silent type’’’—to the very funny sureness of touch in this summary of that common feeling of whatever-happened-to-those people: ‘Some are mathematicians / Some are carpenters’ wives / Dunno how it all got started / I dunno what they’re doin’ with their lives’, where that last line communicates the inevitable ambiguity of feeling—sadness at time’s destruction of friendships and at the same time, truly, an indifference to where or what those people are now.

The song is also highly valued by post-structuralist critics, because, more than any other single Dylan song, it is not a single Dylan song. It is a living demonstration of how unfixed ‘the text’ is. It occupies a special position among Dylan’s many ‘nonlinear narratives’ (in Aidan Day’s phrase), firing up postmodern questions about how we see the individual and the self. It doesn’t have a fixed or clearly identifiable voice telling a clear sequential story, and so it reflects, Day argues, the non-linear (tangled up) way the human brain is currently thought to perceive and interpret the world in front of it and the past behind it. Day’s concern here is for ‘lyrics which open out into an exploration of the workings of the psyche as a whole’.

One of the song’s indeterminacies is the shifting between ‘I’, ‘he’ and ‘you’; and Day argues that as the lyric splits its ‘I’ into an ‘I’ and a ‘he’, and splits its ‘she’ into what may be a series of shes and into ‘she’ and ‘you’, this creates an important effect: ‘Considerable inventive effort on the part of the reader is provoked whether the lyric is taken either as one story or as a series of stories. Cooperation in the making of the story may be demanded of the reader of any narrative. The specially modernist feature of ‘‘Tangled Up in Blue’’ is that the fragmentation of linear structure, together with the indeterminacy generated by that fragmentation about whether we are in the presence of one or more stories, encourages specific awareness of the creative role of the audience in reading or hearing narrative . . . teasing us into generating story, ‘‘Tangled Up in Blue’’ also explores the extent to which the mind is fundamentally disposed to think in terms of story or narrative. The conscious self is inseparable from the stories of its own life that it ceaselessly recites, however silently, to itself. . . . in the same way cultures frame themselves through myths of origin, through histories and through fictions of the future . . . the subject of the lyric is in one sense the inescapability of the narrative impulse itself. But more than this, in its disturbance of narrative order the lyric simultaneously inquires into the possibility of something beyond such order.’

Comparably, the song excites Neil Corcoran because it explicitly declares its own open-endedness (making it a self-referring, or self-reflexive, text). He writes that the song ‘encodes an account of itself in its own variations; it becomes an allegory of its own procedures. Keeping on keeping on, getting on the train and riding, staying on the road and heading towards the sun become not only the activities recommended by the song, but what the song . . . does; it changes, it adapts, it refuses the consolations of the finished in favour of a poetics of process, of constant renewal, of performance rather than publication. Recommending the provisional as an ethic, it also embodies it as an aesthetic.’

Dylan re-wrote the ‘She opened up a book of poems’ verse towards the end of his 1978 world tour, changing it to ‘She opened up the Bible and started quotin’ it to me’, so that it became, thereby, one of his first public suggestions of having converted to Christ; then he re-wrote the song wholesale for the 1984 tour of Europe, not merely rewriting lines of lyric but restructuring the whole song (a braggadocio version of the re-write is on the album Real Live); but ever afterwards Dylan reverted to the earlier structure and the original lyric (with minor variations), and devoted himself to making it one of his most over-performed repertoire items.

By the end of 1998 it was his most-performed post-1960s song, and his sixth most-performed number altogether, behind five songs from the previous decade, ‘All Along the Watchtower’, ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, ‘Maggie’s Farm’, ‘It Ain’t Me, Babe’ and ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’. It far out-stripped renditions of even so over-visited a 1970s song as ‘Forever Young’. To that point, Dylan had sung ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ 634 times in the 23 years of its existence—and, not surprisingly, sung it so unfeelingly so often that it has spoiled, for many admirers of his work, even the early studio versions of what was once a major work of consequence and delight. As the Monthly Film Bulletin comments somewhere in a different context, ‘It’s not the familiar which breeds contempt but the debasement of the familiar.’

Oliver Trager

A Dylan masterpiece of ecstatic agong, Tangled Up In Blue uses the allegory of a busted romance to capture a sense of personal and political loss as the creatively revolutionary spirit of the 1960s ebbs into the spiritual void of 1970s America. Intensely bittersweet, Tangled Up In Blue is one of Dylan’s most recognisable and admired songs – a masterful, seven-verse synthesis introduction to Blood On The Tracks, whose grand subject is the rapacious waters of mature romantic relationships.

John Nogowski offered this wonderful description of the song in his book Bob Dylan: A Descriptive Critical Discography And Filmography, 1961-1993, “Rarely has Bob Dylan matched music and words so aptly as he has on this song. The tale of interrupted love is perfectly matched by the melody, built around a two-chord riff. As the riff builds, the song begins to gather momemntum as the chorus approaches – like the buildup of the relationship. Then comes a succession of quick chord changes – symbolising the sudden, abrupt shifts in his life – and he delivers the title line, a perfect metaphor for his situation. He then returns to the opening riff, back to the beginning – the same old problems all over again. And on the song goes. His closing harmonica solo, trying to dance in the face of these heartaches, is almost heroic.”

On all of his officially released versions of Tangled Up In Blue and through three decades of performance display, Dylan has experimented with changing the pronouns in the lyrics. This unauthodox approach was reportedly inspired by Norman Raeben, a painting-cum-philosopht y teacher with whom Dylan studied in 1974.

Dylan commented in the Biograph Liner notes, “I guess I was just trying to make it like a painting where you can see the different parts, but then you also see the whole of it. With that particular song, that’s what I was trying to do – with the concept of time, and the way the characters change from the first person to the third person, and you’re never quite sure if the third person is talking or the first person is talking. But as you look at the whole thing, it really doesn’t matter.”

Again commenting in the Biograph liner notes, Dylan wrote, “On Real Live, it’s more like it should have been. I was never really happy with it. On real Live, the imagery is better and more the way I would have liked it than on the original recording.”

What Dylan did in the Real Live version was to depersonalise the song by changing the “I” to “he” in the first verse. Eventually, the sober, autobiographical account Dylan had offered in Blood On The Tracks became someone else’s fractured fairy tale – a someone whom it is harder to care about. Surely, in the yet-to-be-written doctoral thesis on Dylan’s use of pronouns, Tangled Up In Blue would be a logical starting point.

Dylan has reinterpreted and even rewritten Tangled Up In Blue over the years. In fact, the Blood On The Tracks version, with which even the most casual Dylan watcher is familiar, was reworked from an earlier draft.

Dylan first recorded the song for Blood On The Tracks in September 1974 while living in New York City. Employing spare instrumentation, the result was ten songs pressed on a promotional disc, which was distributeed in very limited quantities to select radio stations later that autumn.

But, after reviewing the album over the Christmas holidays in Minnesota, Dylan quickly grew dissatisfied with the results and re-recorded several of the tracks with a group of local musicians rounded up by his brother David Zimmerman. Tangled Up In Blue was one of the songs he re-recorded. Then Tangled Up In Blue was released as a A-side single, the song peaked at #31 on the Billboard chart.

One of the Minnesota musicians who re-recorded the track with Dylan, guitarist Keith Odegard, has said the wonderful signature sound that opens Tangled Up In Blue was drawn from an album by Joy Of Cooking, a band out of Oakland, California. In the same 2001 interview, conducted by Tom Mischke with Paul Metsa, Odegard also relates a great story about the production of the song. At one point during the session, Dylan asked Odegard what he thought of the arrangement, When Odegard responded “passable”, Dylan was incredul;ous. “Passable?” he asked, “What do you meam passable? What does that mean, passable?”

Cooler heads soon prevailed. As Odegard said, “Basically, the song was just laying there. It wasn’t doing much, in that key, for him. So I think he said in his mind, Well, what the hell, let’s try it, let’s move it up, let’s go to A on it.”

“So we all capoed up to A and tried it. He reached for the note, he strained a little bit in his voice, he gave it the urgency it needed, it gave it the immediacy and the excitement that you hear. We got halfway through the song on rehearsal, and he said, Stop. Roll it. And that was the tape. We had no more rehearsal on that, that was it.”

The primary narrative change to arise during the Minnesota recording session occurs in the sixth verse. For the first time, a third character is mentioned, and the narrator sings, “I lived with him on Montague Street,” hinting that he may have joined an existing relationship.

This last relationship appears to have held a great deal of sway over the singer. By the song’s end, he has left them and everyone else in the dust and we find him where we first encountered him, “still on the road, headed for another joint”, determined to find the woman he first mentioned in the beginning of the song.

Interpreting this song is a rather slippery slope. Is Dylan describing the arc of a single, obsessive relationship? Several couples’ intinerant meetings and breakups? Or one man’s relationship with many women? A close inspection would seem to err primarily on the side of the latter.

With a deceptively deft pen and a well-placed phrase or two in each stanza, Dylan leads the listener into assuming that he is chronicling the lives of two star-crossed lovers who coincidently keep bumping into each other Aalong the American byway, only to be torn asunder once more.

As the curtain rises “early one morning””, the singer is lying in bed (itself a cliched subversion of “woke up this morning””, the old lyric that opens a multitude of Walkin’ Blues – like blues songs) ruminating on a woman and her red hair – the last time such a physical characteristic is mentioned. He goes on to blame their split on “her folks” who “never did like Mama’s home-made dress / Papa’s bank book wasn’t big enough” and finds himself cast aside, the rain pouring out his shoes (a stand-in for the tracks of his tears) as he hitched a ride east.

The woman in verse two would appear, however, to be quite a different creature. She was, after all, “married when we first met / soon to be divorced” – not the type who would be too concerned if her folks started to quibble over the style of dresses or the girth of the bank accounts when the time came to choose another man. The verse ends with a vague on-the-lam scene in which the narrator and his new lover drive a car as far as they can, abandon it (and their romance?), parting with ever vaguier suggestion they will “meet again some day / On the avenue”.

Verse three finds the singer flying solo – working as a cook in “the great north woods”, getting the axe, then drifting for a job on a fishing boat. Even as the narrator admits that he has “seen a lot of women” (hinting that the song may be about a few of them), he can’t shake the vision of a woman (most probably the redhead from verse one) from his head. At the same time, though, he reinforces the charade that the imagined composite couple are about to cross paths again.

When we see the singer stopping in for a beer at the topless place in verse four, we are led to believe that he recognises the profile of his true love in the spotlight. The woman, for her part, “studies the lines” on his face. Her “bending down to tie the laces” of his shoes seems a very bold come-on for a character who has sunk pretty low indeed, and his implied acceptance of her past depicts the corruption of a guy who finds himself in even lower depths.

This gesture extends naturally into verse five, a further scene of seduction at her (or some other woman’s) place, where she lights the literal (and sexually figurative?) stove, offers him a pipe (filled with what?), and hands him the book of poems written by that unnamed 13th century Italiamn poet (Dante and his verses to Beatrice, the unrequited object of his desire, are an excellent bet).

Things appear to hit rock bottom in verse six with a tawdry ménage-a-trois on Montague Street (Brooklyn Heights, as a point of information, has such a street, known back in the early to mid-20th century as a hotbed of radical and bohemian activity). When that nefarious scene implodes, the singer comes to his senses and perseveres (“to keep on keeping on”), realising that he has to attempt to bring his personal narrative full circle and return to the one he can’t shake from his being, “like a bird that flew.”

Back on the road in the eighth and final verse, the singer considers his and his true love’s intertwined but fractured pasts. Only one thing matters now – return.

Dylan performed Tangled Up In Blue as an intense solo acoustic vehicle in The Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975 and 1976 and managed to wring ever more passion out of it with his dirgelike arrangement in 1978 during the short-lived big-band phase (and an even shorter-lived series of performances in which he replaced the song’s mention of the “book of poems” with a reference to the New Testament, perhaps the effect of his emerging Christianity). Dylan’s secular, rewritten, pronoun-altered version returned Tangled Up In Blue to a solo acoustic rendering in 1984, and he performed a semi-disasterous one-off with The Grateful Dead in the summer of 1987 (though the rehearsal tapes from earlier in the year suggest it could have been otherwise). During The Never Ending Tour, Dylan recast the song a few times, ranging from a white-hot electric version through the mid-1990s to a smouldering semi-acoustic minor-key bluegrass-style arrangement that presented the song with casual, though passionate, aplomb marked by excellent musicianship that reached some truly sublime peaks.

Paul Morley

I don’t like this, it gives me a headache, I find difficulty in deciding what the best song is on the Blonde On Blonde (1966) album, or Love And Theft (2001), or Desire (1976), and when I hear Richie Havens or Neil Young or Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan sing All Along The Watchtower (1967), how can anything else be Dylan’s best song, but then there’s Hard Rain (1964), or It’s Alright, Ma (1965), or Desolation Row (1965), or Romance In Durango (1976), or To Ramona (1964), but I’ll choose Tangled Up In Blue, because in the mid-1970s it looked like Dylan was over, he was the past, the great songs were period pieces, it was all over, Greil Marcus had started his Self Portrait review with “what is this shit?”, and Dylan was slightly before my time, and way behind me, and then he came out of somewhere, not quite nowhere, with Blood On The Tracks (1975), one of his greatest confidence tricks, which suggested he was some kind of Picasso slipping through styles, Rimbaud trapped inside Presley, and that in a way he was actually just beginning, and he could cope with the weight of his own myth, and the weight of all those classic 1960s songs, just by slipping into himself, into a new kind of open tuning, into new perspectives on time and language, and the opening track, bursting out of life into life, as if he was just starting, was Tangled Up In Blue, and it was deeply personal, almost deranged, but profoundly controlled, and strangely abstract, and hypnotic, with this counter rhythm that grabs you by the emotion, and it was first person, third person, in the fifth dimension, close as this, as out there as anything he’d done even as it just raced around his life, around America from coast to coast, around the idea of a song, the idea of a song by Dylan, the idea of an autobiographical song by Dylan, he sang it somewhere between the Dylan we knew, the young Dylan, and the Dylan to come, the older Dylan, “it took 10 years to live,” he said, “and two years to write”, the verses were in the wrong order, it was a cubist song, it was a desperado beat ballad, it was a shattered lament, it was a love story about three people in love with each other at the same time, it was about a topless bar – “I must admit I felt a little uneasy when she bent down to tie the laces on my shoe” – it was about poetry, there was a studio bootleg version where you could hear his jacket buttons rattle against his guitar, he just had to get it out, there’s a live bootleg version from the early 1990s where it takes him over 11 minutes to deliver the song, always a good sign with a Dylan song, because he’s always searching for the way into a song, and the way out, and some songs he could live inside forever, sometimes they pass like a hurricane, he was bitter, it’s biblical, it’s about life, death, the death of love, the death of the 1960s, and it was the freshest song I’d ever heard in my life, still is, and it’s the one I’d love to be able to sing on a neverending tour, revelling in how it’s always alive with it’s own sense of life where the real and the surreal the familiar and the unfamiliar are always on top of each other, and Dylan wasn’t old, or new, or then, or now, or folk, or rock, or acoustic, or electric, he was an artist, and you know the rest. It reminds me not of where I was when I first heard it or who I was or what was going on sentimentally and existentially and romantically in my life – although it does – but every time I hear it, it brings with it every time I’ve ever heard it, it brings with it not a part of my life, but all of my life, and it drags me with it into a fantastic unknown.

George Galloway, MP

Blood On The Tracks is my favourite album, Tangled Up In Blue my favourite song. Though it’s a little like being asked what’s your favourite Shakespeare line … how can one possibly choose? The hero is a loner who helps out a girl “using a little too much force I guess”. Then he takes off with her and an imagined road movie ensues before the pair separate, the loner lonely again.

In the unlikely setting of a topless bar, many years later, Dylan – for as always, we must assume the loner is he – recognises something familiar about one of the dancers, about her face, of course. Only when she bends down (to tie the laces on his shoes) is he really sure …

His love for her “burns like red-hot coals”, in the words of “an Italian poet in the 14th centuree”. Like many other songs on Blood On The Tracks, this is a movie, its characters, plot and raw passions drawn so lyrically that a story that would take two hours to portray on screen is told in minutes. Dylan is the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Despite being an old age pensioner, he is still around everywhere. His latest book Chronicles, the new Scorsese biopic, his neverending tour …

Last week I asked Sean Penn what Bob was really like. “He’s the quietest man in the whole world,” he replied. When you can leave tracks like Bob Dylan, when you’ve had a life tangled up in every way, hey, what’s to say?

Clinton Heylin

Published lyric/s: Lyrics 85; Lyrics 04. [Variants 74-8:1 Can Change I Swear; 1984 lyric: Words Fill My Head/In His Own Words 2.]

Known studio recordings: A&R Studios, NYC, 16 September 1974 – 1 take; 17 September 1974 – 2 takes [TBS]; 19 September 1974 – 6 takes; Sound 80, Minneapolis MN, 30 December 1974. [BoTT]

First known performance: New Haven CT,13 November 1975 [early show].

“It's like this painter who lives around here. He might take a barn from twenty miles away, and hook it up with a brook right next door, then with a car ten miles away, and with the sky on some certain day, and the light on the trees from another certain day. A person passing by will be painted alongside someone [who's] ten miles away. That's more or less what I do.” Bob Dylan to John Cohen, June 1968

This description of “what I do” given to John Cohen can hardly be said to apply to those songs Dylan wrote in 1968 – all three of them. It was another technique he was saving for a rainy day. Indeed, he only confirmed he had been working on the “real” follow-up to John Wesley Harding throughout the “lost” years when he began introducing Tangled Up In Blue at a number of American 1978 shows as “a song it took me ten years to live and two years to write”.

During the spring of 1974 he finally began painting the words to this particular story, in which the past, present and future intersect on the same tangled plain. As with previous momentous breakthroughs – like Mr Tambourine Man and Like A Rolling Stone – Tangled Up In Blue became one of those songs Dylan seemed quite happy to talk about, welcoming the opportunity to explicate upon a breakthrough no less profound or enduring.

Invariably on such occasions the two themes he sought to address were the way the narrative played with time, and how it was essentially an aural version of a painting in his head; as Lily Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts had been the aural equivalent of a motion picture. As late as 1991, he still talked about Tangled Up In Blue, and the album it spawned, as products of “my painting period – learning how to paint on canvas. It's like they are paintings, those songs, or they appeared to be. They're more like a painter would paint a song as [opposed] to compose it.”

This “painting period” came about because of time spent that spring in the company of an elderly teacher called Norman Raeben, in New York, while deciding what to do about his failing marriage. At the time, Dylan avoided discussing the connection with Raeben, but after spending a year and a half of his life applying the same methodology to a four-hour movie, Renaldo And Clara (1977), he opened up about their common inspiration.

Raeben was clearly a remarkable man, who pushed Dylan to unify the visions that had always come his way. As the songwriter informed poet-friend Ginsberg, “I had a teacher that was a conscious artist and he drilled it into me to be a conscious artist. So I became a conscious artist.” There was very little practical about what Raeben taught his pupils. To him, it was all about vision, not technique; something Dylan wisely expounded over a number of interviews in 1977-1978:

“He didn't teach you how to paint so much. He didn't teach you how to draw. He didn't teach you any of these things. He taught you [about] putting your head and your mind and your eye together. He looked into you and told you what you were. If you were interested in coming out of that, you could stay there and force yourself to come out of it. You, yourself, did all the work. My mind and my hand and my eye were not connected up. I had a lot of fantasy dreams. It wasn't art or painting. It was a course in something else. After that I wrote Blood On The Tracks. Everybody agrees that that was pretty different. There's a code in the lyrics. You've got yesterday, today and tomorrow all in the same room.”

Having been reintroduced to his “true self”, it took Dylan a while to recognize a number of these former selves. If he felt like he had become an entirely different person, he was not alone: “I went home after that and my wife never did understand me ever since that day. She never knew what I was talking about, what I was thinking about, and I couldn't possibly explain it.” Having married a mathematician, she had woken up with a poet.

He later informed Ron Rosenbaum, “I haven't come to the place that Rimbaud came to when he decided to stop writing and run guns in Africa.” Which is not what he says in Tangled Up In Blue – and I'd rather trust the tale than the artist. The couplet “Then he started into dealing with slaves / And something inside of him died” explicitly equates Dylan's Woodstock period with Rimbaud gun-running in Abyssinia. With Tangled Up In Blue', he threw off the shackles, and was astounded to discover that his memory again served him well. By his own admission, having previously “tried to force-learn it [but] I couldn't learn what I had been able to do naturally on Highway 61 Revisited. I learned in '75 [sic] that I have to do it consciously; and those are the kind of songs I [now] wanted to write. The ones that do have the break up of time, where there is no time, [while] trying to make the focus as strong as a magnifying glass under the sun.”

In order to lock in such intensity, Dylan was obliged to insert himself into his own story – as an omnipresent narrator looking at all these past selves. The menage a trois element thus introduced (“I lived with them”) reflected a Gemini at war with himself. Even if he liked to introduce the song in concert as something he “wrote about three people in love with each other all at the same time” it was his twin, “that enemy within”, who was his opponent – as he almost admitted to Australian journalist Craig McGregor, describing Tangled Up In Blue as “the first [song] I ever wrote that I felt free enough to change all the – he and the she and the I and the you, and the we and the us. I figured it was all the same anyway.”

A decade after he had flicked the switch and found his muse again, he went further, telling Musician's Bill Flanagan, “I was trying to do something that I didn't think had ever been done before. In terms of trying to tell a story and be a present character in it without it being some kind of fake, sappy attempted tearjerker. I was trying to be somebody in the present time while conjuring up a lot of past images.”

The efficacy of the technique allowed autobiography to entwine around the very roots from which his art sprang, while putting some distance between real life and art. When discussing this song with Matt Damsker in 1978, he felt able to claim, “There might be some little part of me which is confessing something I've experienced and I know, but it is definitely not the total me confessing anything.”

The lines that ring truest are the opening and closing couplets: where he is lying in bed, remembering the past; and at the crossroads, looking to the future. When he sings, “Me, I'm still on the road, heading for another joint”, he is contrasting his peripatetic life with the one his wife wanted for them. It proved to be an urge he never entirely killed off. Even in May 1971, at the height of his domestic hiatus, he told one biographer, “The important thing is to keep moving. Or else to stop by the side of the road every once in a while and build a house.” He had done both, and knew which worked for him. If past and present selves are reconciled at song's end, the lovers are not.

As part of the process this conscious artist had become a rather self-conscious lyricist. If Dylan's references to Rimbaud and Hesse are oblique, for the first time in a lyric he was owning up to reading some real poetry. Thus, the mysterious girl from the topless bar (Hermine again – see Went To See The Gypsy) hands him a book of sonnets in which every word “rang true and glowed like burning coal”. He even kept up the gag by informing McGregor “that [the] poet from the 13th century” was Plutarch, knowing full well it was Petrarch, the founding father of the love-sonnet – who was actually from the 14th century, but who is counting.

My prime candidate for the specific sonnet from Petrarch's Canzoniere Dylan is recalling would be #107:

“I see no way now I can free myself / those lovely eyes have warred with me so long / that, alas, I fear this burden of care / will destroy my heart that knows no truce. / I want to flee: but those loving beams ... are in my mind day and night.”

Like Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts, Tangled Up In Blue underwent surprisingly little reconstructive surgery after it was added to the notebook, suggesting it also was largely realized by the time it entered there. But her words to him, as they “split up on a sad dark night”, originally tied him closer to the wheel of fate on which they were bound:

“Hell, this ain't no end / We've been through too much together / And we're bound to meet again.”

Once he started singing these words, he doubtless found such a word-rich construct left him tongue-tied. Likewise, “I muttered something underneath my breath” is a lot more visual than “I made a joke, she didn't laugh”. Otherwise, the words he set about recording at the end of the first Blood On The Tracks session (16 September 1974) were the same ones he entered in the notebook back in spring.

Its recorded self, though, did not come at all easy. Having already recorded eight of the ten songs he intended for the album in his first, six-hour session – at least four of them with some permutation of Deliverance – it seems Dylan deliberately held off cutting Tangled Up In Blue until the very end of the night. This version – supposedly issued in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Vols 1-31 – suggests he quickly abandoned any idea of putting a band behind the song. A second guitar (Weissberg's?) picks out the parts of the melody Dylan's scratchy rhythm has left unsaid, while Tony Brown's bass underpins the clack-clack of the singer's jacket-buttons. But something is not right. Weissberg recalled how “Bob seemed a bit ill at ease in the studio, as though he wanted to get it over with.” Having hurried through the song, he knew he would have to return to it.

By the time work resumed the following evening, Dylan had dispensed with all the ancillary musicians. His only musical prop would be Tony Brown's bass notes. Yet three more takes failed to do the song justice, and rather than keep plugging away, he held back, knowing its time would come – a technique which would prove a feature of the New York sessions. As drummer Richard Crooks discovered on day one, “He'll do one take of one song, then just move on to another song, and maybe an hour or two later he'll come back and do that first song again, just so you don't lock on it too much.”

In the case of Tangled Up In Blue, Dylan only came back to it on the final session, 19 September 1974. Again, he tried it a couple of times, and then turned to other songs, before returning to it at the end of the night, capturing it a couple more times. In fact, he had already caught it earlier that evening – as he discovered when reviewing the tapes, sequencing the album on or around 25 September 1974. This time the vocal had that edge of desperation the song required – even if his jacket was still providing percussion.

Yet enough doubt remained for him to try running it down again in Minneapolis at a second late-December 1974 session. Having intended to re-work just a couple of the songs cut in New York, he slowly became convinced that half the album could benefit from the kind of full-on accompaniment he had previously disdained. It was with Tangled Up In Blue – which had now acquired an intro awfully similar to Jefferson Airplane's Volunteers – that he elected to start work on 30 December 1974.

According to guitarist Kevin Odegard, he still “produced a small red notebook in which were scribbled the verses to [this] first song he wanted to record that night”. Which begs the question: did he come up with the new sixth verse – wholly absent from said notebook – on the spot? One thing is sure – he is no longer “too busy, or too stoned”. Rather, he is living “with them on Montague Street”, consciously evoking a time when “there was music in the cafes at night / And revolution in the air”. It was a sentiment to which he would adhere through every rewrite to come – and there have been a fair few.

Once he began to see this twisting tale as an ongoing narrative of his life to date, there was very little stopping him. Between 1975 and 1984 the song underwent a number of dramatic reworkings, of which the versions performed in 1978 and 1984 proved especially powerful. In 1975 the job that had drifted down from LA to New Orleans in its passage from A&R to Sound 80 was transplanted to Santa Fe. In 1976 it was a gear-crunching heavy-metal arrangement that signalled a change in direction, not any change of words. While in 1978, he decided he had another tale to tell; which is presumably why he told Matt Damsker he had never been happy with the original recordings: “I didn't perform it well. I didn't have the power to perform it well, but I did write the [Blood on the Tracks] songs. They can be changed [now], but the idea was right.”

The vocal he applied to the song during the fall 1978 shows was not only “fighting sentimentality” as he once claimed; it was also battling against any vestiges of the gorgeous melody to which he had been singing the song earlier the same year as part of a guitar-saxophone tour de force. Meanwhile, two lyrical elements now entered the song – one there originally, but toned down in the recording process; the other entirely new. An overriding sense of destiny, first emphasized by the modified line “We're bound to meet again on the avenue”, is reinforced when the dancer informs him, “It ain't no accident that you came.”

The new element reflected a reconstructed worldview which concerned itself more with the poetry of the King James Bible than some medieval sonneteer. From mid-November 1978, the topless lady “opened up the Bible, and started quoting it to me. Jeremiah Chapters One to Thirty Three”. Jeremiah 31:31, concerned with a new covenant between Jehovah and his chosen people, would later be quoted on the inner-sleeve of Saved. The change presaged by these lines led Dylan to abandon Tangled Up In Blue at the turn of 1978-1979, along with a whole slew of mid-1970s masterpieces.

It took until 1984 before he felt any need to revisit this song, and even then he still felt obliged to rework it. Whereas Simple Twist Of Fate was given a banana-republic makeover, Tangled Up In Blue acquired an anti-romantic slant. A new ending suggested not only that the trail was now cold, but also that his pursuit of “true love” had been a mistake all along. Coming from a man who in the interim had prayed to the Lord to take away “this trouble in mind”, one line in particular – the penultimate one below – seemed like a statement of intent:

“So now I'm going on back again, to that forbidden zone,
I got to find someone among the women and men whose destiny is unknown.
Some are masters of illusion, some are ministers of the trade,
All of them strong [on] delusion, all of their beds unmade,
Me, I'm still walking towards the sun/son,
Trying to stay out of the joints.” Brussels, 7 June 1984

This version, rivetingly debuted at a show in Rotterdam in early June 1984, was released in a disappointingly emaciated form on Real Live, from a tired Wembley show a month later. Yet the new lyric seemed to please the man himself. He revealed the thinking behind the rewrite in 1985, “The old ones [sic] were never quite filled in. I rewrote it in a hotel room somewhere. I think it was Amsterdam. I wanted to sing that song so I looked at it again, and I changed it. When I sang it the next night I knew it was right.”

Yet the original lyrical construct – one of his most poetic – continued to bother the man even after the song reverted to its 1974 guise in performance, as it did from 1987 onward. In 1991, he would tell Robert Hilburn, “I always thought [Tangled Up In Blue] was written too fast, too rushed – just too many lines, as if I were racing to get from here to there.” Actually, the only thing rushed about the song was the Never Ending Tour electric arrangement, which seemed in a particular hurry to complete the story (in marked contrast to the performance in Dortmund, Germany, in September 1987 – probably the last live rendition to really do it justice). As one of the frustratingly few songs from the mid-1970s he has allowed to hang around, we should perhaps be grateful for the small mercy of its continued presence, pale shadow or not. Meanwhile, back in 1974, Tangled Up In Blue spawned song after song bound to the same wheel of fate, in a summer bonanza of inspiration.

PostPosted: Sun October 16th, 2011, 01:49 GMT 
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PostPosted: Sun October 16th, 2011, 03:22 GMT 
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I found the other track talk on this song, and read this by marker which I think is pretty spot on:

"His masterpiece. It's the song everything else is judged against. it's profoundly an American song. The song travels across time in the States. And like so much of the best American art, the song is heavily romantic conjuring memories of lost loves, distant places, and the people that we used to know. In the context of Bob's life, I've always heard the song as a song about the 60's a tumultuous decade that brought great loves and great losses. It's also a song of brilliant specificity. The places we go are so vivid, it's a song you enjoy falling into again and again. But beyond that, the song is stunning in its malleability, its adaptation, shaped by time, just as the story itself is.
It's also a song that is perfect only as a song. Dylan's most original melody reflects the journey so dramatically that one cannot live without the other. As the verse progresses there is always that progression building in the narrative as well, knowing inevitably we are building to the chorus, those three abrupt chords of Tangled Up In Blue that shift the narrative completely, like the shifts in perspective, subject, and emotion, moving us into another joint to start all over again.
There are two women that haunt the song for me, and he & I seem to change often. In a sense, who this song is about is extraneous for me, but what remains are the emotional details, how each place & time draw us deeper into his web of experience until all we can do is simply listen to it marvelously unfold and feel it all over again. The listener of the song is just as integral as the singer to the song's purpose just as the oldest folk songs are.

So now I'm goin' back again,
I got to get to her somehow.
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now.
Some are mathematicians
Some are doctors' wives.
Don't know how it all got started,
I don't know what they're doin' with their lives.
But me, I'm still on the road
Headin' for another joint
We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue. "

PostPosted: Sun October 16th, 2011, 15:02 GMT 
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Tangled up in Blue is another one of Bob's best songs, this one from his middle years, it is very sophisticated in how he is able to prompt in me, lots of thoughts about different things and stuff.

PostPosted: Sun October 16th, 2011, 15:28 GMT 
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I can't say for sure, but I think this was my first favorite Dylan song when I got into him about 15 years ago. I couldn't believe how good it was. Still one of my favorites, and still probably the one that gets played most at get together's. I don't know if i have a favorite version..love the original, and it's probably a tie between the Rolling Thunder music video version and Real Live for my favorite live version. Totally different but equally good. I also had the privilege of seeing it live in Toronto in 02', and although the concert wasn't the best, I really enjoyed this one. They were doing that stop/start kind of thing with it at the time, similar to "A Hard rain's a gonna fall" from the Hard Rain 76' video. Very cool...and i'm not sure but this might have been the one where Charlie would get very animated, and go over and start pounding on front part of the drum kit, whatever that's called. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was great. :shock:

PostPosted: Thu August 23rd, 2012, 05:40 GMT 
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nellie wrote:
"I guess I was just trying to make it like a painting where you can see the different parts but then you also see the whole of it. With that particular song, that’s what I was trying to do – with the concept of time and the way the characters change from the first person to the third person, and you’re never quite sure if the third person is talking or the first person is talking. But as you look at the whole thing it really doesn’t matter.”

I understand the concept but I'm not sure I'm seeing it in the lyrics, exactly...

Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’
I was layin’ in bed
Wond’rin’ if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bankbook wasn’t big enough
And I was standin’ on the side of the road
Rain fallin’ on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I’ve paid some dues gettin’ through
Tangled up in blue

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin’ away
I heard her say over my shoulder
“We’ll meet again someday on the avenue”
Tangled up in blue

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Workin’ for a while on a fishin’ boat
Right outside of Delacroix
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind, and I just grew
Tangled up in blue

She was workin’ in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept lookin’ at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I’s just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me, “Don’t I know your name?”
I muttered somethin’ underneath my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe
Tangled up in blue

She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello,” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafés at night
And revolution in the air
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin’ on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue

So now I’m goin’ back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenters’ wives
Don’t know how it all got started
I don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives
But me, I’m still on the road
Headin’ for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue
Copyright © 1974 by Ram's Horn Music; renewed 2002 by Ram’s Horn Music

I get the point about each stanza being able to be seen as happening at different times and in different orders (except for 1 and 7: "Early one morning" sounds like the beginning of a story--like "once upon a time," and by starting 7 with "so" that seems to lead directly from verse 6)
With regards to pronouns it's all "I", "she", and "her" except for one "you" in verse 5 and a "he" and "him" in verse 6.

I feel I'm missing something...can anyone out there elaborate on the time and viewpoint shifts (and refer to specific instances in the lyrics)?

PostPosted: Sat October 19th, 2013, 23:22 GMT 
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Oct 2013 & he's still playing it, still singing it, still rewriting it, and he still keeps on keepin' on, heading for another joint...

PostPosted: Mon October 21st, 2013, 19:17 GMT 
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Undeniably an absolute classic tune here. Doubt you'd find many Bob fans that would disagree.

PostPosted: Sat March 29th, 2014, 04:30 GMT 

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This might be a controversial one, but I'm gonna post it anyways...

Back in the merry old year of 2009, Bob strangely only pulled out Tangled 5 times and all by the summer time!!
I haven't heard all of them but they're definitely a little different than the usual Tangled Up renditions...

Here's the very last of the bunch. Starting with a very odd riff, Bob launches in as if he's eating the song whole.
It's a pretty wild version, full of spit & vinegar. Bob definitely sounds like he's very into this version a lot & his harp solo is
a beauty to be marveled....

I hope anyone who's into Modern Bob checks this one out and shares their thoughts on it....
I'd be very interested:)

Rothbury MI
July 5 2009

PostPosted: Sat March 29th, 2014, 11:04 GMT 
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marker wrote:
This might be a controversial one, but I'm gonna post it anyways...

Back in the merry old year of 2009, Bob strangely only pulled out Tangled 5 times and all by the summer time!!
I haven't heard all of them but they're definitely a little different than the usual Tangled Up renditions...

Here's the very last of the bunch. Starting with a very odd riff, Bob launches in as if he's eating the song whole.
It's a pretty wild version, full of spit & vinegar. Bob definitely sounds like he's very into this version a lot & his harp solo is
a beauty to be marveled....

I hope anyone who's into Modern Bob checks this one out and shares their thoughts on it....
I'd be very interested:)

Rothbury MI
July 5 2009

A quirky curiosity that's well worth checking out. It sounded a little bizarre in 2008 as well, with this nice jig rhythm and arrangement (check out 4/11 in Minneapolis)! I think this is an example of what Andrew Muir called a 'tick tock' arrangement. The harp playing is quite inspired here though. Rothbury was one of the first boots I ever got, it's an overall quirky show, with plenty of that strange staccato singing style he sometimes adopted.

2009 must have been the year with the least about of Tangled performances since the NET began, I reckon.

Listening to it now - it's quite perverse I know, but this Rothbury performance does crack me up :lol:

PostPosted: Sat March 29th, 2014, 11:27 GMT 
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Posts: 603
marker wrote:
This might be a controversial one, but I'm gonna post it anyways...

Back in the merry old year of 2009, Bob strangely only pulled out Tangled 5 times and all by the summer time!!
I haven't heard all of them but they're definitely a little different than the usual Tangled Up renditions...

Here's the very last of the bunch. Starting with a very odd riff, Bob launches in as if he's eating the song whole.
It's a pretty wild version, full of spit & vinegar. Bob definitely sounds like he's very into this version a lot & his harp solo is
a beauty to be marveled....

I hope anyone who's into Modern Bob checks this one out and shares their thoughts on it....
I'd be very interested:)

Rothbury MI
July 5 2009

Is it me or does bob sound very angry here? Very quirky version, but the wacky riff in sharp contrast to the vocals has me smiling :D. Harp is superb though.

PostPosted: Sat March 29th, 2014, 14:07 GMT 
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The 1984 version is unique in that what makes it so funny is knowing the earlier versions. I can think of no other such example in recordings I've heard by anybody. It's like he did a Weird Al on himself, although far funnier than anything Weird Al ever came up with.

PostPosted: Sat May 31st, 2014, 05:35 GMT 
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Location: A little Minnesota town
is and always will be one of the greatest songs ever to be written period. it was magical seeing him play it live in 2012.

PostPosted: Sun June 8th, 2014, 03:40 GMT 
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jamespadden81 wrote:
but the changing of the 1st and 2nd person does change the song quite a lot. It becomes a story, not a sort of confessional thing...but then flips again.

yes, and is it the only one, performed by anyone, that is presented and changed (on purpose) continually?
TangledUpInBlack wrote:
is and always will be one of the greatest songs ever to be written period.

PostPosted: Mon June 9th, 2014, 04:18 GMT 
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Joined: Tue September 25th, 2012, 19:13 GMT
Posts: 371
Location: In a haze of substance abuse.
I tend to classify Tangled with other epic, multiple-character, romance-fueled narratives like Romance in Durango, Brownsville Girl, and Black Diamond Bay. Each of which far surpasses Tangled, to my mind, lyrically, melodically, and vocally.

(Interesting, also, that each of those was co-authored. Though I don't know if Brownsville Girl is technically listed as co-written, maybe that was just the earlier New Dansville Girl?)

In fact, Tangled could disappear from the catalog and I wouldn't miss it. Not to say it's a bad song. Perhaps on another collection it would shine, but amidst the other marvels of BOTT, it just always paled by comparison for me.

I am fond of the '78 rearrangement, though. After hearing that, I almost NEVER listen to the album version. Looking forward to hearing some of the versions suggested here, though.

PostPosted: Sat July 11th, 2015, 18:34 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
Posts: 1519
Location: City of Angels
I always liked the shows from 1992...it always sounds like it's the first year of rehabilitation. A year of experimentation,
new collaborators, some successes and some failures but a renewed sense of performance. By the end of 92, Bob was in a great place. Good As I Been To You had just come out and he seemed excited to make music again...
I love the long jams that started this year...with Bucky Baxter joining the group it starts to coalesce into more interesting places that pushed Bob
into more interesting places on stage which he seems to need to grow.

Here's a corker of a Tangled from the end of the year...really a fun version with a wild little harp solo and a very very cool (and it seems impromptu) ending:

Coral Gables FL
November 8 1992
http://www.mediafire.com/listen/wzwpg4b ... n_Blue.mp3

And here's a fun Tangled from the beginning of that year in Melbourne Australia I believe:

PostPosted: Thu April 20th, 2017, 02:52 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
Posts: 1519
Location: City of Angels
Just heard this show for the first time and it's gotta be a unique one in that Bob opens with Tangled...
It's also a rare year where he only performed it twice in 89.
It's a cookin' performance too. Very much in the 88 arrangement,
what sets it apart is that Bob plows through the first 5 verses before taking an instrumental break.
He's also very engaged in the story of this song this night. He enunciates every word which is also
rare for 1989.

Anyway, check out this one. 89 is a very interesting year Bob-wise:

Milano Italy
June 19 1989
http://www.mediafire.com/file/og6dnx5xm ... Blue_1.mp3

PostPosted: Thu April 20th, 2017, 03:28 GMT 
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Thanks, marker.

I'm digging this version right now. They get pretty cooking on the jam section. Very good vocal for the period and totally on top of the lyrics!

PostPosted: Mon April 24th, 2017, 02:04 GMT 
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I can't listen to the original after hearing the alternating first and third-person narrative perspective of the NY version.

Why he changed the lyrics, I do not know.

PostPosted: Tue April 25th, 2017, 18:03 GMT 
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mystic garden wrote:
I can't listen to the original after hearing the alternating first and third-person narrative perspective of the NY version.

Why he changed the lyrics, I do not know.

He thought they were successful
She thought they were blessed
With objects and material things
But I never was impressed.

(Love the way he emphasizes "I" here)

It's true, the non-original lyrics have a very... well, raw quality to them which is frankly spellbinding. It does show, much more than the official version, how "true" these songs were and how personal. Perhaps that's why they had to go(?) but in the end I think he made the right call, at least with this track.

Was it on BOTT that he apparently wrote one song that was so incredibly personal, honest and bitter it's basically been burned and everyone who heard it has been sworn to secret? Or am I messing up recording sessions/myths here?

PostPosted: Fri April 28th, 2017, 11:03 GMT 
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Anr Bjotk wrote:
Was it on BOTT that he apparently wrote one song that was so incredibly personal, honest and bitter it's basically been burned and everyone who heard it has been sworn to secret? Or am I messing up recording sessions/myths here?

Sounds a lot like I'm Cold, which was written between Desire and Street-Legal.

PostPosted: Fri October 27th, 2017, 20:18 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
Posts: 1519
Location: City of Angels
There's something about the malleability of Tangled that allows so much re-invention
throughout the years that it's easy to take this song for granted as a listener.
But as a performer and writer of this great song, Bob has consistently changed this song
so as to find new ways to tell this ageless story effectively.

I first heard the current arrangement in Philly 2014 the same day he did that Ensam Experiment
at the Academy of Music earlier that day.
There's a comfortable coziness the current Set embodies that hasn't really been felt since the
days of the acoustic mini-sets of 97-02 and when the Set finally rolled around to the opening
chords of this Tangled, I got chills for the first time in a long time.

He's so connected and the band follows him implicitly. Just perfection.

Philadelphia PA
November 23 2014
http://www.mediafire.com/file/825oi53h7 ... n_Blue.mp3

The one from Chicago a couple weeks earlier was pretty epic as well:

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