Monday, December 06, 2010

"Tangled Up in Blue" (1975)

25. Bob Dylan, "Tangled Up in Blue" (March 29, 1975, #31)

OK, I acknowledge that the consistency I'm liable to evince when it comes to Bob Dylan and his singles and albums probably amounts to very little or none at all. By all rights, "Like a Rolling Stone" should rank way higher than the #154 position it finally occupied when I finished fiddling with this list. Every time I hear it on Highway 61 Revisited, my favorite album all my life ever since I first heard it, I am thrilled still. On the radio, however, not so much—maybe it needs that sound of a needle locking into a groove? And so contrariwise with "Tangled Up in Blue," which comes from an album I don't actually much care for, but I love the song deeply and immediately whenever I hear it blowing casually out of a radio. It's all personal, "tangled up" in memory and sentiment. I was living at the time with five or six others in a rental house in Minneapolis, on the river just across from the West Bank and close to the hippie district, where it seemed every shop one entered at the time was blasting this song. This was the beatnik portion of my life, 20 years old and reading "Howl" and The Subterraneans and enthusiastically attending French New Wave cinema in venues with folding chairs. With a gray female cat named Benson who got pregnant and had the litter in an old medical case that sat in my closet. Smoking Gitanes because that's the brand we all thought Jean-Pierre Leaud was smoking in La maman et la putain (in fact it was Galouises). In May, I traveled by Greyhound bus to San Francisco, where I stayed at the YMCA and slipped into a Pharoah Sanders show, perhaps the last time I was underage for anything, and thrilled until the wee hours to the African rhythms and the shredding tenor. Et cetera. I guess this song was about gone from the radio by the time I got back.

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