Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,

"Tangled Up in Blue": theories?

I've been thinking about this for a while, and the dog is asleep on my foot, so now's as good a time as any to ask: is there a generally-accepted theory about the women in "Tangled Up in Blue"?

This will be easier to explain with lyrics, so cut for length:

Lyrics from Dylan's website, with numbered verses for ease of reference:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

The women in verses 1 & 2 can't be the same. I think verse 5 refers to yet a third woman (who is also the same as the woman in verse 4). The woman in verse 6 could be the same as any of the prior women, or someone completely different. And yet the singular is used throughout.

Any generally accepted interpretation of this? Personally I like to think of it as a fantasy story of some sort, but my biases are showing.

Tags: music

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