What does Tangled Up In Blue mean?

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Bob Dylan: Tangled Up In Blue Meaning

Song Released: 1975


Tangled Up In Blue Lyrics

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...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    REMareback
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    Jul 8th, 2008 7:59pm report


    I can't believe nobody has discussed this song, it's one of my favourite Bob Dylan songs.
    It's about the breakdown of Dylan's marriage, he said it took him two years to write and ten years to live. It pays no attention to time, mixing up a time line with each verse.
    First Verse: It's the present, he woke up in bed and reflected on what went wrong.
    Second Verse: It's the past, as they broke up, it's the exact details of the break up.
    Third Verse: It's directly after the second verse, what happened to him after they broke up.
    Fourth Verse: It goes back to the very beginning of the time line, when he first met the girl.
    Fifth Verse: Follows from the fourth, when he first met her.
    Sixth Verse: After they met it's detail of their life together, and how it didn't work out.
    Seventh Verse: It's back to the present, how he's going after her, and hints that all their arguments weren't worthwhile.
    So in chronological order it's:
    4th Verse, 5th Verse, 6th Verse, 2nd verse, 1st verse, last verse.
    And the meaning of Tangled up in Blue as a phrase, it means stuck to the same girl, whether he likes it or not, why it's blue I don't no. Tangled doesn't entirely give a positive image, you don't really want to be tangled in something.

    This was my first interpretation on this website, please tell me how it was, was it a load of garbage or was it a decent interpretation?



  2. 2TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Nov 21st, 2011 11:29pm report


    My two-cents about the lyrics:

    I see the recurring phrase "Tangled Up In Blue" almost like a 'click' on a camera shutter, capturing a moment in the narrator's relationship with the woman. So, as they are splitting up, she says "We'll meet again someday on the avenue" and there is a "click", a mental snapshot of the moment.

    In the middle stanzas the story starts: he goes into a topless bar looking for a thrill and unexpectedly sees a dancer whose FACE is the part of her anatomy that he is starting at. She returns the favor by "studying the lines on his face", again, both looking at each other faces, not as "customer/dancer" but as "man/woman" attracted to each other. In fact, as she bends down to "tie the laces on his shoes" (that is, to get a big tip in her G-string by showing him her ass and private regions), he is already uneasy about thinking of her as just a piece of meat. "Click"

    In that stanza, he is attracted to her body, but immediately in the next stanza he is attracted to her soul. She gives him a book of poems by an "Italian poet
    From the thirteenth century", a reference to Dante's "Vita Nuova" (about Dante's soul-mate, Beatrice). "Click"

    I take the verse about "he started into dealing with slaves" to be a verse about a pimp engaged in the prostitution business, with the implication that the pimp has dragged his wife from working in a topless bar to being a prostitute. The narrator has to rescue her from that. "Click".

    The basic recurring phrase, "Tangled Up In Blue", is never fully explicated, which I think is good. It could refer to a certain sadness ("blue") throughout their relationship, but I think it's more likely to be a "metonymy", that is, a 'part' which stands for the 'whole'. In this case, something about "blue" is standing in for the woman and/or both of them in the relationship. It could be something like a blue dress that makes the narrator think of her. If you're into biography when analyzing a poem, it's worth noting that Bob Dylan and his ex-wife Sara Dylan both have blue eyes (as does their eldest son). It is also noted that Sara worked as a Playboy bunny before she met Bob.

    What I love about the song is how is expresses that "cubist" nature of long-term relationships, in which you simultaneously see parts from all different time snapshots at the same instant. For example, when I met a woman friend of mine at an airport last year, I saw her as a high school student that rode around in a borrowed convertible car that I drove one summer, and saw myself walking away from her on the one date we went on at 17, and saw her when I gave her a hug outside her house in Chicago when I tracked her down again after a 35 year absence, etc. etc, etc. Every one of those images was there at the same time, overlaying each other in my memory, "tangled up in blue".

    Anyway, that's what I get out of the song and why I admire it so much. It expressed something to me that I was only vaguely aware of, and now it's in the forefront of my mind. Thanks, Mr. Dylan.



  3.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 14th, 2013 3:26pm report


    Some are carpenters' wives = Jesus was a carpenter=a nun is theoretically married to Jesus, hence C'carpenter's wives= a nun or a reformed or spiritually changed individual



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 1st, 2012 7:23pm report


    I've always considered this song an allegory about dylan's relationship with music, and his view of his place in the history of music, personal and professional.
    "she" is not a woman. "she" is music.Changing at the beginning, when his career started. Prostituted in the middle.
    Idealized at the end.



  5.  

    m320753
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    Jun 14th, 2012 6:57am report


    it' definititly about losing sara. she was working in a topless place!, sara was a Playboy bunny what amazes is that dylan describes about 6 jobs he has when he met sara and 6 destinations he headed to before meeting her and he decribes how he went on the road again secretly wishing he run into someplace



  6.  

    JulesNBinoculars
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    Jun 7th, 2012 6:52am report


    Dylan has actually gone on record as saying that the 'Blue' refers to Joni Mitchell's record of the same name, which Bob said influenced him heavily.



  7.  

    anonymous
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    May 21st, 2012 5:21am report


    He refers to her red hair. Blue is a nickname given to redheads ?!



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 11th, 2012 4:59pm report


    I thought it might have a connection with 'Its all over now.. Baby Blue. Wasn't there a David Blue in Dylan's entourage?



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 24th, 2011 8:39pm report


    During the period that he wrote this song, Dylan was interested in painting. His art teacher explained that beginner painters get "tangled up in blue" meaning that they use too much of the blue palette in their early works and then grow to use other colors. When they move on to skillfully use a broader range of color they grow as an artist.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 14th, 2011 8:25pm report


    I think "tangled up in blue" means "tangled in sadness".



  11.  

    anonymous
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    May 23rd, 2011 5:14pm report


    The song is about the famous incident where dylan became tangled up in the blues.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  12.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 28th, 2011 2:45pm report


    He is Blue from the break up of a relationship, hooks up with another woman in the same boat, they cry and console each other, and eventually go their own way,only eventually meet again. Both are thankful for the understanding and compassion of a friend during a very difficult time, picking up each other when they were down and out.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  13.  

    Piman
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    Oct 24th, 2010 10:16am report


    Tangled up in blue, simplest explanation for 'blue' is the common use of blue for feeling hurt and/or depressed. It is about Sara, but more than only about her, he is singing for every breakup and so all of the details don't have to match Sara. The bootleg earlier version is even more personal than the one that made the official album, well worth hearing.

    I had a 'mondegreen' in this song; Dylan sings "split up on that dark sad night"; for years I thought he sang "split up on the docks that night". My mis-hearing made sense with a nice double play on 'docks' normally a place of joining becomes that place of separation for Dylan.



  14.  

    leemicd
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    May 5th, 2010 5:09am report


    Tangled up in Blue = Feeling blue. My interpretation. What do you think?



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 15th, 2010 1:41pm report


    No the phrase "tangle up in blue" is referring to the album "blue" by Joni Michell.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  16.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 17th, 2009 7:03pm report


    Initially hearing the song, not taking into consideration the details of Dylan's own history, I interpreted it to be a collective love towards the many women in his life. "Feel[ing] the same" with differing "points of view" really convinced me. Dylan is not so much a conventional kind of guy and these lyrics seem to be his own struggle with love versus relationship. Again, I am not considering Sara, or anyone in Dylan's life. This may be more of a personal interpretation for my own life circumstances. Particularly after a recent breakup. Tangled up in blue, to me, signifies his tangled web he weaved for love...which tends to cause someone to be blue.



  17.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 4th, 2009 7:40am report


    Dylan has blue eyes. Tangled up in Blue is about the contorted relationship and breakup with sara. Tangled up in Blue is "Tangled up with me.



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