Tangled Up in Blue

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"Tangled Up in Blue"
Tangled Up in Blue Cover.jpg
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Blood on the Tracks
B-side"If You See Her, Say Hello"
ReleasedJanuary 1975
RecordedDecember 30, 1974 at Sound 80 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
GenreFolk rock
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan singles chronology
"All Along the Watchtower"
"Tangled Up in Blue"
Blood on the Tracks track listing
Audio sample
"Tangled Up in Blue"
Music video
"Tangled Up in Blue" (live) on YouTube

"Tangled Up in Blue" is a song by Bob Dylan. It appeared on his album Blood on the Tracks in 1975. Released as a single, it reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rolling Stone ranked it #68 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The Telegraph has described the song as "The most dazzling lyric ever written, an abstract narrative of relationships told in an amorphous blend of first and third person, rolling past, present and future together, spilling out in tripping cadences and audacious internal rhymes, ripe with sharply turned images and observations and filled with a painfully desperate longing."[1]

"Tangled Up in Blue" is one of five songs on Blood on the Tracks that Dylan initially recorded in New York City in September 1974 and then re-recorded in Minneapolis in December that year; the later recording became the album track and single. The New York version of this song is in open E tuning.[2][3] Individual outtakes from the New York "Tangled Up in Blue" sessions were released in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991 and in 2018 on the single-CD and 2-LP versions of The Bootleg Series Vol. 14: More Blood, More Tracks, while the complete New York sessions were released on the deluxe edition of the latter album.[4] The deluxe version of The Bootleg Series Vol. 14 also included a remix of the December 1974 master issued on Blood on the Tracks.[5]

According to novelist Ron Rosenbaum, Bob Dylan once told him that he'd written "Tangled up in Blue", after spending a weekend immersed in Joni Mitchell's 1971 album Blue[6].

"Tangled up in Blue" is also published as one of two poems by Dylan in The Seagull Book of Poems. [7]


"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. 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."[8] 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".[9]

The lyrics are at times opaque, but the song seems to be (as are 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 1984 Europe tour) has radically different lyrics. In the first studio version (NYC sessions, September 1974) 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 on the 1984 Real Live album is the best.[10] Dylan has often stated that the song took "ten years to live and two years to write".[11]

Covers and references[edit]

The song has been covered by various artists, including Great White, Jerry Garcia, Dickey Betts and Great Southern, Mike McClure, Half Japanese, Robyn Hitchcock, the Indigo Girls, Kim Larsen, KT Tunstall, Ani Difranco, The String Cheese Incident, Jennifer Charles, and The Whitlams.

In the Hootie & the Blowfish song "Only Wanna Be with You", Darius Rucker sings: Yeah I'm tangled up in blue / Only wanna be with you / You can call me your fool / Only wanna be with you. The reference extends a string of mentions of Bob Dylan in the song, beginning at the start of the second verse: Putting on a little Dylan .... The song's rhythm itself seems to be inspired by Dylan's original track.

Barb Jungr and Louis Durra have recorded jazz versions. The song is a playable track on Rock Band 2, as the most difficult song in the vocal section, and the final song for the player to complete in the "Impossible Vocal Challenge".

Science fiction author Joan D. Vinge published Tangled Up in Blue in 2000[12] as the fourth book in her Hugo Award-winning "Snow Queen" series.


  1. ^ McCormick, Neil (November 18, 2013). "Bob Dylan: 30 greatest songs". Telegraph. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  2. ^ "Tangled Up in Blue". dylanchords.info. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  3. ^ "Tangled up in Tangled up in Blue". dylanchords.info. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  4. ^ "More Blood, More Tracks – The Bootleg Series Vol. 14 to Be Released on November 2 | The Official Bob Dylan Site". www.bobdylan.com. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  5. ^ "More Blood, More Tracks – The Bootleg Series Vol. 14 to Be Released on November 2 | The Official Bob Dylan Site". www.bobdylan.com. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  6. ^ Rosenbaum, Ron (December 14, 2007). "The Best Joni Mitchell Song Ever". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  7. ^ Kelly, Joseph. "The Seagull Book of Poems | W. W. Norton & Company". books.wwnorton.com. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  8. ^ "The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan", Nigel Williamson, ISBN 1-84353-139-9
  9. ^ Interview with Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone 11/16/78
  10. ^ Toby Creswell (2007), "Tangled Up in Blue", 1001 Songs, p. 469, ISBN 1742731481
  11. ^ Sanburn, Joel (May 19, 2011). "The 10 Best Bob Dylan Songs". Time. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  12. ^ Tangled Up in Blue, Joan Vinge, TOR Books, 2000, ISBN 978-0-8125-7636-8

External links[edit]