Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tangled Up in Blue

First recorded by Bob Dylan (1974, released 1991).
Hit version by Bob Dylan (US #31 1975).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (1984).

From the wiki: “‘Tangled Up in Blue’ was written by Bob Dylan, and first appeared on the album Blood on the Tracks in 1975. Released as a single, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rolling Stone ranks it #68 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. According to The Telegraph, Dylan said ‘I wanted to defy time … When you look at a painting, you can see any part of it altogether. I wanted that song to be like a painting.’ Dylan had been influenced by his then-recent study of painting and the Cubist school of artists, who had sought to incorporate multiple perspectives within a single plane of view. Dylan has often stated that the song took ‘ten years to live and two years to write.’

“‘Tangled Up in Blue’ was one of five songs on Blood on the Tracks that Dylan initially recorded in New York City in September 1974 and which was then re-recorded in Minneapolis in December that year; the later recording became the album track and single. One of the September 1974 outtakes was released in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.

“Dylan played the New York sessions test pressing for his brother, David Zimmerman, who persuaded Dylan the album would not sell because the overall sound was too stark. At his brother’s urging, Dylan agreed to re-record five of the album’s songs in Sound 80 in Minneapolis, with backing musicians recruited by David.

[Minneapolis musician Kevin Odegard recalls getting] a call from his friend and manager – David Zimmerman, Dylan’s brother. Zimmerman was looking for a rare 1930s Martin guitar, the type favored by singer Joan Baez.

‘Right away my antenna went up,’ Odegard says. He contacted his friend Chris Weber, who owned a guitar store near the University of Minnesota. By coincidence, Weber had received a similar guitar on consignment. Odegard swore Weber to secrecy – the guitar was for Dylan.

They headed across the Mississippi River on Dec. 27, 1974, to Sound 80, a studio in a working-class neighborhood where guitarist Leo Kottke and singer Cat Stevens had recorded … In walked Dylan, quietly, ‘just like one of the guys,’ Odegard says.

Weber says he showed Dylan the [Martin] guitar in a cramped vocal booth, and – at Dylan’s invitation – played a couple of his own songs for the songwriter of his generation. Dylan began teaching Weber ‘Idiot Wind’. Weber thought he was just a ‘fifth wheel’ at the session and was about to retreat when Dylan gave him a ‘funny look’ and said, ‘I need you to play guitar.’

Odegard credits the liveliness of the Minneapolis versions to the rhythm section of drummer Bill Berg and bassist Billy Peterson, known for their jazzy style.

Dylan crew revealed, Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2004

The new takes were accomplished in two days at the end of December 1974. Blood on the Tracks was released into stores on January 20, 1975 and was ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ as the lead promotional single. Dylan has said that the version of ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ that was recorded for the 1984 Real Live album is the best.”

Bob Dylan, “Tangled Up in Blue” (1974):

Bob Dylan, “Tangled Up in Blue” live recording from Renaldo and Clara (1975):

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