When I was a kid, my dad had this beat up leather case he stored his albums and 7” singles in which I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere near (which obviously meant that all I wanted to do was see what was inside!) One day, when I was about 11, I sneaked it into my room and was flicking through the records when the title of a song caught my eye – Tangled Up in Blue. I had no clue what it meant so I took the single out and played it on my cheap little record player. From that first verse – “Early one morning, the sun was shining, I was laying in bed, wondering if she’d changed at all, if her hair was still red” – I was intrigued. I didn’t know songs could be life stories like that, I was totally immersed in the lyrics and invested in this relationship with the singer and the redhead who worked in a “topless place” who gifts him a book of poems written by “an Italian poet from the thirteenth century”. I played it over and over. Some of the language was confusing, his phrasing too clever for my youthful mind, and it felt like a riddle I had to solve, or hieroglyphics on a tomb I needed to decipher, but it definitely made me feel something. A connection. A sensation of words transporting you someplace else. I never had that with a song before. ‘Tangled…’ feels like poetry because it is.
From Blood on the Tracks, 1975, Columbia Records