A lot of rock and roll classics seem like capturing lightning in a bottle. No matter how artists would like to hone their songs from time to time, these are the kind of songs that almost seem to have taken a pinch of time, taking basic chords and creating something classic. That’s not always how it works.
For all the great parts these songs have on their own, they were actually put together over a long period of time, with the artist sitting on it until it was the right time to release it. If you have that kind of lightning in an energy bottle, why not start with something like this? Well, sometimes you have to consider timing as well. Those songs might have been great to begin with, but the production might not have been the right fit until they became big enough to get someone into the studio.
There are also times when you have bands that have just the right melody to woo you, only to spend years with the song trying to get just the right amount of experience in the melody. In most cases, it’s not the song’s fault that it was never released in a timely manner. It just depends on the artist in question, and sometimes you have to live a little longer before you’re ready to tackle songs like these.
If we’ve learned anything from his career, Bob Dylan is not a musician to be rushed. If he has a classic under his belt, he won’t release it until he thinks it’s fully realized, otherwise we get projects like Self Portrait that feel like an intentional middle finger to audiences. Blood on the Tracks was the big divorce record, and Tangled Up in Blue took him years to live before singing.
In between studio sessions, Dylan had also started taking different classes in New York, which managed to completely shake up his writing style. When he finally lays down every verse of this song, Dylan practically frames the story of these two lost lovers trying to find each other in a complete narrative. Going from the first verse to the final verse, you can see the full romantic plot unfold, talking about how he helped her get out of a bind with a lover she didn’t love until until she eventually breaks down and hopes to end up somewhere along the line again.
Even when the final version was finished, Dylan still had some doubts, until re-recording the entire song with a new band after hearing comments from his friends that it sounded too sad. However, relationships like this don’t always end happily, and Tangled Up in Blue is a real way to make peace with all that heartache still trapped inside you.