Just one of two Minnesotan’s to make my list, it’s difficult to just pull one of Bob Dylan’s albums into a list like this… I mean, how the hell can you point to one singular work and say: this was the most influential for me? Especially when I have grown up on Dylan, repeatedly gone back to his poetry and learned so very much from his use of language.
Why do I have to pare it down to just one? Self-imposed rule when I started this meme series… of course, there would be multiple honorable mentions, but Bob Dylan’s 15th studio album released in January 1975 contains one particular song that really, as a writer, has had a huge influence. It’s probably my second favorite song of his (with It Ain’t Me Babe off 1964s Another Side of Bob Dylan being my favorite) that places this album above the others. Tangled Up In Blue is like the never quite finished song. Dylan has changed the lyrics around multiple times, and indeed, I’ve heard him perform it on multiple occasions and it is never quite the same version as the previous.
Whenever I hear this song, there are conversations I remember, people I rarely think of come to mind on certain lines and one particular Chinese dinner and bottle of red wine… but before all that, there is an imagine, one of seeing Dylan performing this in white face during the Rolling Thunder Review and for the first time, I really understood some of the anger in this song I hadn’t before. It’s one of those things that every time I listen to it, I get something new. That just doesn’t really happen.
Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved.
Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm.
Come in, she said, I’ll give you…
–Shelter from the Storm
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