Tangled Up in Blue: What was Bob thinking?

Bob Dylan has to be an all time favorite… thousands of great songs all with such deep and different meanings.  Tangled Up in Blue is definitely in the personal top 10… just wanted to research a couple favorite DImageylan tunes..

“Tangled Up in Blue” is one of the clearest examples of Dylan’s attempts to write “multi-dimensional” songs which defied a fixed notion of time and space. Dylan was influenced by his recent study of painting and the Cubist school of artists, who sought to incorporate multiple perspectives within a single plane of view. As Neil McCormick remarked in 2003: “A truly extraordinary epic of the personal, an unreliable narrative carved out of shifting memories like a five-and-a-half-minute musical Proust.” In a 1978 interview Dylan explained this style of songwriting: “What’s different about it is that there’s a code in the lyrics, and there’s also no sense of time. There’s no respect for it. You’ve got yesterday, today and tomorrow all in the same room, and there’s very little you can’t imagine not happening”.

The lyrics are at times opaque, but the song seems to be (like most of the songs on the album), the tale of a love that has, for the time being, ended, although not by choice; the last verse begins:

So now I’m goin’ back again,
I got to get to her somehow…

and ends

We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue.

Dylan continually re-worked the lyrics even after the album was released; the version on his live album Real Live (and throughout the ’84 Europe tour) has radically different lyrics. In the first studio version (NYC sessions, September ’74) and often in live performances he has sung some of the verses from a third-person perspective (usually “he was laying in bed,” but sometimes even “she was laying in bed”), as opposed to the first-person point of view in the Blood on the Tracks version. Dylan has said that the version recorded in the 1984 Real Livealbum is the best.

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