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Tangled Up in Blue Lyrics and Song Meaning Analysis

Tangled Up in Blue Lyrics are some of the greatest Bob Dylan lyrics of all time!  One of several gems off of Blood On the Tracks (1975), this tune still gives me the chills when I think of it and it's song meaning!

I spent a summer on the island of Maui between semesters in college one year.  My friend popped this on one evening when we were all in the "right" state of mind!

There are obviously multiple interpretations of the Tangled Up in Blue lyrics.  Some believe that the lyric's many perspectives (past, present and future) embody Bob Dylan's fascination with the cubist movement in painting which depicts images from various points of view not just one vantage point.

The line "Tangle Up in Blue" could refer to the feeling of depression, the use of the baby blue pill, popular back then, or the eyes of his lost love(s).

What is clear in the song meaning, is that Dylan is talking about a relationship (or relationships) unfulfilled.  The red head who's family doesn't accept his mom and dad.  The woman who is in the middle of a divorce and he helps to kill her husband and thus they can never be together as a result.


Throughout his travels he can't shake her memory.  When he comes to the topless club I believe the girl reminds him of his long lost love.  There is debate whether the poet she has him read is Petrarch or Dante, but it ignites a fire in him.

Flash forward to his time living and gigging in Greenwich Village, NY and how the idealistic artist world begins to crumble into commercialism.

He now wants to find that lost love as it is the only thing he has left to live for.  We are all similar we just have different perspectives…"We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue."



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 cafes 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 carpenter's 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.

(Tangled Up in Blue Lyrics)

*Tangled Up in Blue lyrics are some of my favorite.  Below you have an opportunity to chime in about your interpretation of these lyrics.  What do you think?

What do you think about this lyric?

What's your interpretation of Tangled Up in Blue? Any other thoughts about this lyric?

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