A song that took me ten years to live and two years to write
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 you see it altogether. I wanted that song to be like a painting.
Joni Mitchell had an album out called Blue. And it affected me, I couldn’t get it out of my head. And it just stayed in my head and when I wrote that song I wondered, what’s that mean? And then I figured that it was just there, and I guess that’s what happened, y’know.
~Bob Dylan (to Craig McGregor, March 1978)
This masterpiece in number 3 on my list of Dylans 200 best songs. Listening to it almost never fails to put me in a state of flow.. time stops.. there is nothing except this beautiful piece of art occupying my attention.. best form of mindful meditation if you ask me.
It is the best song from one of his best albums: “Blood On The Tracks” (1975):
We allow our past to exist. Our credibility is based on our past. But deep in our soul we have no past. I don’t think we have a past anymore than we have a name. You can say we have a past if we have a future. Do we have a future? No. So how can our past exist if the future doesn’t exist?
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott, Dec 1977)
But we’re only dealing with the past in terms of being able to be healed by it. We can communicate only because we both agree that this is a glass and this is a bowl and that’s a candle and there’s a window here and there are lights out in the city. Now I might not agree with that. Turn this glass around and it’s something else. Now I’m hiding it in a napkin. Watch it now. Now you don’t even know it’s there. It’s the past… I don’t even deal with it. I don’t think seriously about the past, the present or the future. I’ve spent enough time thinking about these things and have gotten nowhere.
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott, Dec 1977)
3 important elements shines through on this album & in particular on this song:
- inspiration from his art-teacher (Norman Raeben)
More powerful than any magician
~Bob Dylan (about Raeben)
“[Raeben] though me how to see… in a way that allowed me to do consciously what I unconsciously felt”
- his broken heart (which fueled a burst of creative energy – only comparable to his mid 60’s trilogy).
- his new found interest in “open tuning” (supposedly inspired by Joni Mitchell). For more details check out ~dylanchords.info
|Blood On The Tracks||1975-01-17||BOTT|
|The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3
(Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991
|New York Sessions bootleg||xx||NYSB|
|The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan
Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue
|Album version||Sound 80 Studio – Minneapolis||1974/12/30||BOTT|
-Alt version1: –
|NewYork Version 1||Columbia Studio A, New York||1974/09/16*||TBS1-3|
* Clinton Heylin is not entirely convinced.. it could be a 17 & 19 September take
-Alt version2: –
Similar to Bootleg Series vol 2 but different take.
Not released. New York Sessions bootleg
|NewYork2||Columbia Studio A, New York||1974/09/19||NYSB|
Rolling Thunder Revue version (1975)
Live at Boston Music Hall, 11/21/75
The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue (2002)
|Rolling Thunder Revue version (1975)||Boston Music Hall||1975/11/21||TBS5|
Well, here’s the thing. There might be some little part of me which is confessing something which I’ve experienced and I know, but it is not definitely the total me confessing anything. I mean, when Mick Jagger sings Beast Of Burden, you know what I mean, there’s something in there that’s in him confessing, but you just do that
~Bob Dylan (to Matt Damsker, Sept 1978)
I once read a book of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s letters to some girl, and they were extremely private and personal, and I didn’t feel there was any of myself in those letters, but I could identify with what he was saying. A lot of myself crosses over into my songs. I’ll write something and say to myself, I can change this, I can make this not so personal, and at other times I’ll say, I think I’ll leave this on a personal level, and if somebody wants to peek at it and make up their own minds about what kind of character I am, that’s up to them. Other times I might say, well, it’s too personal, I think I’ll turn the corner on it, because why do I want somebody thinking about what I’m thinking about, especially if it’s not to their benefit.
~Bob Dylan (to Scott Cohen, Sept 1985)
|The song has been performed approx 1200 times live…|
Interesting live performances:
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.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
1978 version 1 – Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles, California – 7 June 1978:
1978 version2 – Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina – December 12:
1984 – Palaeur, Rome on June:
In a subtle but measurable sense, this “Tangled Up In Blue” vocal is not like any other rendition.
It ha a unique personality – not different arrangement or lyrics, but a subtle idiosyncrasy of delivery that gives us listeners the opportunity to be intimately present with this singer and his mood, his picture of life and reality, at this particular never-to-be-repeated moment. This, according to my theory, is what we like so much about Bob Dylan.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist Volume 3: Mind Out Of Time 1986 And Beyond)
- Clinton Heylin: Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1974-2006
- Olof’s Still On The Road website
- Eyolf Østrem’s website: dylanchords.info
- Bob Dylan: Anthology Volume 2: 20 Years of Isis
– Edited by Derek Barker
Related stuff here @ alldylan: