Monday, January 20, 1975

Bob Dylan “Tangled Up in Blue” released

Tangled Up in Blue

Bob Dylan

Writer(s): Bob Dylan (see lyrics here)

Recorded: December 30, 1974

Released (as album cut): January 17, 1975

Released (as single): January 20, 1975

First Charted: March 8, 1975

Peak: 31 BB, 43 CB, 62 HR, 2 CL, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 38.5 video, 98.96 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The early ‘70s marked a downturn for Bob Dylan, a time when “some critics declared that his genius was fading.” SS In 1975, he “returned with a vengeance [with] Blood on the Tracks…and its hit single ‘Tangled Up in Blue,’…one of the most densely layered, endlessly compelling singles to ever crack the Top 40.” SS This is Dylan at his best, “the epic, stream-of-consciousness storyteller.” SS

“Tangled Up in Blue” is “a triumphant, if occasionally opaque opening to the otherwise-less-than-exuberant Blood on the Tracks.” DT The album is frequently referred to as “the divorce album,” but Dylan has denied that it was a document of his disintegrating marriage with Sara Lowndes. There are certainly self-referential details in “Tangled Up in Blue” but Dylan has also “disguised the charagers enough to remove it fro the historical to the metaphysical.” TC Ultimately the song’s message is “that we live lives governed by the winds of fate.” TC

He famously said on stage once that the song took him “ten years to live and two years to write.” SS It reportedly was initially inspired by a weekend Dylan spent absorbing Joni Mitchell’s Blue album. It is marked by “one of Dylan’s most perfectly realized lyrics, and the one that he seems the least happy with.” DT “Part of the mystery of the song is the shifts in perspective as though the narrator is sometimes a protagonist and sometimes an observer, and the action takes place in the present and the past simultaneously.” TC He said, “When you look at a painting, you can see any part of it or see all of it together. I wanted the song to be like a painting.” TC

It is a painting which Dylan continually retouches, considering how often he’s changed it in concert. DT He recorded it twice in September 1974 and redied it again in December. On the latter recording, folk guitarist Kevin Odegard suggested “kicking the tune up from the key of G to an A, into the higher reaches of [Dylan’s] vocal range…[which] gave the song more urgency.” SS Dylan has said the version on 1984’s Real Live is the best. TC In the end, “the details in the song are flexible. It’s the emotional core that’s constant.” TC


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First posted 5/23/2024.

Bob Dylan released Blood on the Tracks

Blood on the Tracks

Bob Dylan

Released: January 20, 1975

Charted: February 8, 1975

Peak: 12 US, 4 UK, 12 CN, 4 AU, 13 DF

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.1 UK, 10.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: folk rock


(Click for codes to charts.)
  1. Tangled Up in Blue [5:41] (3/8/75, 31 BB, 43 CB, 62 HR, 2 CL, 4 DF)
  2. Simple Twist of Fate [4:17] (19 CL)
  3. You’re a Big Girl Now [4:34] (37 DF)
  4. Idiot Wind [7:47] (28 DF)
  5. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go [2:55] (46 CL, 8 DF)
  6. Meet Me in the Morning [4:21] (38 DF)
  7. Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts [8:52] (9 CL, 32 DF)
  8. If You See Her, Say Hello [4:47]
  9. Shelter from the Storm [5:00] (13 CL, 28 DF)
  10. Buckets of Rain [3:22]

All songs written by Bob Dylan.

Total Running Time: 51:42

Spotify Playlist

Check out my Spotify playlist of all ten of these songs as covered by Ryan Adams, Joan Baez, Jeff Buckley, Neko Case, Shawn Colvin, Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris, the Indigo Girls, Freddie King, My Morning Jacket, and Jeff Tweedy.


4.678 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)


“Dylan made albums more influential than this, but he never made one better.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Blood on the Tracks, “among Dylan’s masterpieces, ” AZ finds Dylan “retreating to the past, recording a largely quiet, acoustic-based album.” AMG It follows an album and tour “where he repudiated his past with his greatest backing band” AMG a – The Band – which “apparently re-ignited his creativity.” AZ “This is the sound of an artist returning to his strengths.” AMG

The album is marked by a “luxuriant tangle of guitars, the gritty directness in Dylan’s voice and the magnificent confessional force of his writing.” 500 “These are songs of ‘images and distorted facts,’ each expressed through tangled points of view, and all of them blue.” AZ

The Divorce Album:

The album is popularly referred to as Dylan’s divorce album because it supposedly documents “the collapse of his marriage to Sara Lowndes.” 500 “This is an album alternately bitter, sorrowful, regretful, and peaceful, easily the closest he ever came to wearing his emotions on his sleeve. That's not to say that it’s an explicitly confessional record, since many songs are riddles or allegories, yet the warmth of the music makes it feel that way.” AMG

Jakob Dylan, Bob and Sara’s son and the lead singer of the Wallflowers, supposedly said Blood on the Tracks was about his parents. However, it is only indirectly attributed to him. Journalist DeCurtis recalls it as a comment Jakob supposedly said to Andrew Slater, the Wallflowers’ manager. JM-25

Dylan himself bristles at the idea that the album is “autobiographical and thematizes the dilapidated state of his marriage.” JM-10 In the liner notes for the 1985 Biograph set, he attacks the “stupid and misleading jerks” who think it is about him and his wife. JM-11 He’s also said he’s surprised that people like the album so much. “I’ts hard for me to relate to that. I mean, you know, people enjoyed the type of pain.” JM-10

The Writing and Recording:

Dylan wrote fifteen “lyrically piercing, gingerly majestic folk-pop songs” 500 in the summer of 1974; half would end up on Blood on the Tracks. “He was so proud of them that he privately auditioned almost all of the album, from start to finish, for pals and peers including Mike Bloomfield, David Crosby and Graham Nash.” 500

“Driven by a back to the roots sentiment” JM-74 Dylan sought out John Hammond, who had signed the bard to Columbia and produced his first three albums. He wanted to record the album in his old studio on the corner of 52nd Street and 7th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. In 1967, however, Columbia sold the studio to A&R, the record company of Jack Arnold and Phil Ramone. However, because of Hammond’s influence – and the fact that Ramone had served as the recording engineer on Dylan & the Band’s live album Before The Flood – Dylan was able to use the studio. JM-75 He recorded the album “in September – in just a week with members of the bluegrass band Deliverance.” 500

The album was then set for a December 6, 1974 release date. However, that plan was derailed when Dylan headed to Minnesota to visit his family. He played the album for his brother David who assesses them as “beautiful songs, but they sound quite the same, heard in succession.” JM-78 Dylan canceled the release date and recut some of the songs with local musicians. Five of the new versions ended up on Tracks – “Idiot Wind,” “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts,” “You’re a Big Girl Now,” and “If You See Her, Say Hello.”

“The final Blood was a mix of New York and Minneapolis tapes; Dylanologists still debate the merits of the two sessions.” 500

“Tangled Up in Blue”

The album’s best-known song is Tangled Up in Blue, which he once introduced onstage “as taking him ten years to live and two years to write.” 500 “There is no song in his catalogue with which Dylan has scraped and tinkered so much.” JM-17 He was inspired to write the song “after having immersed himself in the music of Joni Mitchell’s Blue for a weekend.” JM-17

The song “poetically tells us that the storms of life leave their marks and that we are becoming a different person along the way.” JM-16 It also “gives sufficient hints to justify a biographical interpretation. Sara was not only a model but also Playboy bunny (‘She was workin’ in a topless place’) and indeed still married when they first met. In his early years Dylan sometimes plays in a joint on ‘Montague Street’ and he lives with a couple in the neighborhood, he is originally from Minnesota (‘the Great North Woods’) and recalls his ‘Girl from the North Country.’” JM-17

Dickey Betts, Jerry Garcia, and the Indigo Girls have covered the song.

“Simple Twist of Fate”

“The existentialist jewel Simple Twist of Fate500 “can be understood as the swan song of an extinct love, a description of the physical breaking point, the point where the lovers actually part.” JM-20 The song may be about “his first great love Suze Rotolo.” JM-21 He sings “I still believe she was my twin” and in his book Chronicles, Dylan says Suze “might have been his spiritual soul mate.” JM-21

“The music is gorgeous..The sprase use of the minor chord is masterful…Eveyrone else would, given the melancholic lyrics, play the entire song in minor. Song Maestro Dylan senses that he adds to the fascination when he plays in the major, briefly slipping to minor in every forth line – when the character feels alone, when he gets hit by the heat of the night, when he feels empty inside, when he is despairing if she would ever pick him again.” JM-22

Joan Baez, Concrete Blonde, Jerry Garcia, Diana Krall, and Jeff Tweedy have done covers.

“You’re a Big Girl Now”

“The song has a beautiful melody, the notes are in the right place to enhance the dramatic, melancholy lyrical content…[and the] performance is decisive.” JM-28 “The lyrics have a peculiar magic” JM-27 weaving a “story of a man who has fallen madly in love…however, it suddenly becomes clear…that the narrator has been dumped and that he last the ground under his feet.” JM-27

“In the sixties, Dylan succumbs to the age-old familiar connection of rain with heartbreak and related amorous misery.” JM-25 “The narrator in You’re a Big Girl Now is back in the rain.” JM-25 The listener is lead “involuntarily back to eight years earlier, to the I-figure from ‘Just Like a Woman,’ who is in the rain after yet another stranded love affair.” JM-25

“Idiot Wind”

Idiot Wind is “one of Dylan’s undisputed monuments,” JM-30 “one of the most nasty and indscrete songs in his oeuvre,” JM-36 “his greatest put-down song since ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’” 500 It is “a masterly, heart-breaking confessional song.” JM-32 “The mastery lies within the vulnerability under the rawness. The narrator is mean, unreasonable, and malicious, but does not succeed in becoming unsympathetic; we all hear the pain speaking, not the man himself. A corkscrew is twisted into his heart and…this hurt, heartbroken man damns his beloved.” JM-32

“The opening lines of the seventh verse are the most abrasive of the entire song. The narrator here exposes himself to such an extent that the listener gets the uncomfortable feeling of unwittingly reading someone else’s diary.” JM-34

“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”

“Despite the title the song is not about loss, farewell or pain. It does express bittersweet melancholy, but an enamored cheerfulness prevails. That focus is primarily due to the musical accompaniment…especially thanks to the tempo and the harmonica Dylan elevates the song to jittery joy. And secondly…the poet is in love.” JM-40

In 1974, Dylan had an affair with Ellen Bernstein, a 24-year-old Columbia Records employee. It isn’t hard to connect the song to her considering that he references Ashtabula – where Ellen was born – and Honolulu and San Francisco – both places where she later lived. JM-40

Miley Cyrus and Shawn Colvin are among the artists to cover the song.

“Meet Me in the Morning”

In “the flawless blues Meet Me in the MorningAZ “Dylan interlaces the lyrical painting of man’s suffering with his characteristic poetry.” JM-47 “Dylan produces…sparkling antique poetry in a song text that is much more than a run-of-the-mill blues lamento.” JM-48

Regarding the musical accompaniment, Dylan again lifts the song “above a common blues.” JM-48 The band is led by Eric Weissberg, who provided the soundtrack – and especially the memorable song “Dueling Banjos” – to the 1972 movie Deliverance. The song also features Buddy Cage on steel guitar. He “plays lightly over the sung verses and then nails the searing break through the song’s closing stages.” JM-49

The Black Crowes, David Gray, and Freddie King have covered the song.

“Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts”

This is an intricate story song from Dylan about “two attractive women and an inscrutable, mysterious stranger,”JM-51 which can be interpreted as being about Sara (or Suze), Joan Baez, and Dylan. “The plot looks classic enough; on the surface it is a weekday cowboy novel with all the clichés involved. A mysterious stranger, a bank robbery, there is poker, the local landowner has an extramarital affair with the beautiful show girl, a public hanging, a sloon, a judge…images and archetypes we know from every western.” JM-53

The Jack of Hearts “turns the head of danseuse Lily, with whom he apparently already shares an amorous past. She is the mistress of the local big shot Big Jim, who is not exactly charmed by Lily’s crush. That leads to the climax, which takes place in Lily’s dressing room. Big Jim kicks open the door and pulls his revolver, but is stabbed from behind, presumably by his wife Rosemary, whose knees also get weak over the Jack of Hearts. It all comfortably distracts from the work of Jack’s gang members, who are prising open the wall of the bank, two doors down. Rosemary is hung the next day, Jack is gone with the booty and the fair Lily is left behind, contemplating.” JM-53

There have even been two attempts to turn this “hectic epic” JM-58 into a script, but neither came to fruition. The fan-made video below reflects how visual the song is. One of the comments about the video is “This has always been a moving picture in my head. I imagine a whole movie building up to this scene.”

In 1975, Joan Baez completely reworked her song “Diamonds and Rust” after hearing Dylan’s “Jack of Hearts.” “Diamonds” “is pleasantly, mild-mocking, honestly poignant, melancholic and poetic, a song in which Baez looks back, without any bitterness, at her time with Dylan.” JM-51

“If You See Her, Say Hello”

“The narrator in the elegant, gentle song does not question guilt, but is filled with blameless regret.” JM-56 “The wrung-dry goodbye of If You See Her, Say Hello500 “is one of the triggers to qualify Blood on the Tracks as Dylan’s ‘Divorce Album.’” JM-57 The narrator “paints a much richer, multi-faceted…more moving portrait of the abandoned lover than the overwhelming majority of…sad farewell songs.” JM-58

The song is notable in that it “has no chorus, no refrain, no strict metre – it escapes Dylan’s normal conventions for song lyrics and differs from the other songs on the album. It is rather similar to classical poetry.” JM-58

“Shelter from the Storm”

There have been various interprations of “the marble, grand masterpiece Shelter from the StormJM-58 The song can be viewed as “a monologue of a returning Vietnam veteran or a Holocaust survivor.” JM-63 It can be seen as “the flection of a drug addict over his addiction” JM-63 and it can be interpreted as the “wresting of a husband whose wife eludes him.” JM-63 It can even be taken as an account of a dead soul “before the thone of God.” JM-63

“The one-eyed undertaker in ‘Shelter from the Storm’ is one of the much-discussed images from one of Dylan’s most beautiful songs…Many Dylan fans consider the song a personal favorite.” JM-62

“Buckets of Rain”

“The sweetly devastating Buckets of RainAZ is an “ambivalent, heart-breaking and intimate blues folk” JM-70 song. “It is a beautiful finale to a beautiful record…After these songs of lost love and despair, the master chooses a melancholic final piece, decorated with confusing, Dylanesque contradictions, with naïve frankness and inscrutable metaphors.” JM-70


Blood on the Tracks remains an intimate, revealing affair since these harsher takes let his anger surface the way his sadness does elsewhere. As such, it’s an affecting, unbearably poignant record, not because it’s a glimpse into his soul, but because the songs are remarkably clear-eyed and sentimental, lovely and melancholy at once. And, in a way, it’s best that he was backed with studio musicians here, since the professional, understated backing lets the songs and emotion stand at the forefront. Dylan made albums more influential than this, but he never made one better.” AMG

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First posted 1/17/2012; last updated 5/14/2024.

Saturday, January 4, 1975

Elton John’s cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” hit #1 in US

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: June 2, 1967 (album cut)

First Charted: --

Peak: 3 CL (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 29.6 video, -- streaming

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Elton John

Released: November 18, 1974

First Charted: November 22, 1974

Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 12 HR, 11 RR, 1 CL, 10 UK, 14 CN, 3 AU (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards (The Beatles):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Elton John):

About the Song:

The Beatles chose not to release any singles from their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band because “the entire album was meant to hang together as a whole.” SG “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “possibly the most enduring song on the album,” SG has “a fragile spaced-out dreaminess to it” SG which led to rumors that it was an acid song. The initials spelled out “LSD” and the “lyrics are all dazed, hallucinatory meditations on a girl who keeps disappearing and a world where things don’t make sense.” SG Paul McCartney said “drugs did influence some of the group’s compositions…including ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’…[but it’s] easy to overestimate the influence of drugs on the Beatles’ music.” WK

John Lennon claimed the song was inspired by a painting by his son. SG He said, “My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’” FB Julian reconnected with the drawing’s muse, his nursery school classmate Lucy O’Donnell, in their adult lives before she died of complications from lupus in 2009. WK

John also explained that “the images were from Alice in Wonderland.” FB The title of the drawing reminded John of the chapter “Which Dreamed It?” in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, in which Alice floats in a “boat beneath a sunny sky.” WK McCartney explained, “We did the whole thing like an Alice in Wonderland idea, being in a boat on the river…Every so often it broke off and you saw Lucy in the sky with diamonds all over the sky. This Lucy was God, the Big Figure, the White Rabbit.” WK

Elton John referred to it as “one of the best songs ever written.” SG When he recorded it, Lennon sang and played guitar under the uncredited pseudonym of “Winston O’Boogie.” Elton’s version “is six minutes long, nearly twice the length of the original. There’s a lot of showy piano-banging. There are tempo changes. There’s a part that’s clearly supposed to sound like reggae. There are many, many repetitions of the song’s title.” SG


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Beatles
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Elton John
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 388.
  • SG Stereogum (6/20/2019). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

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First posted 7/1/2022; last updated 7/13/2023.