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 the docks that 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, "Zimmy, 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I became withdrawn,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.


Lyrics submitted by typo, edited by james44, RobLewis

Tangled Up in Blue song meanings
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121 Comments

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  • +3
    General Comment'this is a song that took my ten years to live and two years to write.' - uncle bob
    kingmikekingon April 10, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI have always had a theory about that intriguing sixth verse--seems it might include a reference to the famous relationship between Verlaine and Rimbaud to which he refers directly in "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go." Verlaine, I believe, did deal in slaves (literal slaves) later in his life, and "music in the cafes and night and revolution in the air" could refer to the Paris Communard uprising of 1871, which Verlaine and Rimbaud lived through. The only thing that doesn't quite fit is the Montague Street bit....
    DJacques75on May 24, 2004   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningI think some of these comments might be reading a little too much into the verse "I must admit I felt a little uneasy when she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe." I think it's pretty straightforward sexual imagery. Remember, she's a topless dancer. When she bends down in front of him, her breasts are dangling before him, and her butt is in the air, in a rather exposed, proceptive position. Very sexy, and very lyrical that Dylan can conjure up such imagery without using language as blunt as in my description.
    billton June 02, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAh MarshmallowPeep, though Dante's Divine Comedy may not be the most romantic work, it was most definitely not his only one. He wrote several books, including Convivio, and La Vita Nuevo in which he describes his undying love for a girl named Beatrice which follows Tangled Up in Blue somewhat closely.
    Trivial Sublimeon October 29, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Comment1-She just does. They were untied when he was there at the nightclub watching her dance, and she comes after her show and speaks to him. Sexy. And he's all nervious. Excellent writing.
    2-When things started going wrong, she started prostituing herself, being pimped by another friend who used to be a part of the gang while they were together

    Anyway, I sometimes think that they'r all different women, but he sees them all as one inmortal female.

    There's an awesome idea to consider. All the women of your past being different in body, but deep down, the same soul. The same one.
    cavernon February 03, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentsnobbish? ok MASTERMUSICIAN!
    fight_the_waron December 24, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentCenturies be damned, it's gotta be La Vita Nuova--I came to the same conclusion thirty years ago.

    I've always thought that was too direct for this elliptical song. Suggested replacement for "Written by ... century":

    "Written by a saint on a chocolate bar
    On the South Side of Calvary"
    piscine2000on October 01, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIs it just me or does anyone else ever think that Dylan may well be singing to a woman he actually had a relationship with, but at the same time hes singing about his own personal journey and relationship with the human race as a whole. The woman personafies the human race. He heads out to the east( capitalist 'right') and gets her out of a jam, using a little to much force( suggesting his naivity about his hopes for saving her[and people being able to live as sosialists]) then they drive out west( sosialist left) as fast as they could, abandon the car and go their seperate ways( when the initial rush has all run out). The poet is a figurative representation of Dylans muse. he lives with them both( his relationship with human race and his muse[the three parts of what is his artistry]) in a basement( within/absorbed in) Montague street in Greenwhich village. This refers to his time living there and playing in the cafes at night, when he developed as an artist. When he says finally the bottom fell out hes talking about that period of his life, living in greenwhich village, playing in cafes with the revolutionary atmosphere in the air. 'Tangled up in blue'
    aidanowenon April 09, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPush comes to shove "Tangled Up In Blue" and The Beatles' "In My Life" are my all-time favorite songs. The lyrics to "Tangled Up In Blue" are truly a thing of genius.

    Imo the phrase "tangled up in blue" essentially refers to his life-long struggle with the sorrow and frustration of having lost this woman, the love of his life. No matter what he is doing with his life - various jobs and relationships and life circumstances - this woman he loves but lost many years ago is always on his mind. He can't ever truly shake her memory.

    Every line is greatness but the final verse is my favorite, particularly "All the people we used to know/ they're an illusion to me now/some are mathmeticians/some are carpenter's wives/don't know how it all got started/I don't know what they do with their lives" and "we always did feel the same we just saw it from a different point of view/tangled up in blue".

    How does one write something this incredibly inspired?
    Rickveeon August 17, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentprobably my favorite bob dylan song. it is so good. the lyrics are pure poetry. one of the best stories ever put to music.
    kingmikekingon October 14, 2002   Link

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