Tangled Up In Black

By Larry Yudelson

Early one morning in Washington Heights
I was sitting in shiur
My yetzer hara was down for the count
I had that sugya clear
Folks had said life in Yeshiva
Sure was gonna be odd
They never did like mama's short sleeve dress
Papa didn't care much for God
Then the rebbe called on me
I told him what I knew
You should be, he told the class,
Learning from this Jew
Who is coming back
to be Tangled Up In Black

I studied Torah all the time
I was lonely as the Rav
Until I heard Blu Greenberg speak
And I tasted of forbidden love
We drove that car past Tuscalusa
Till it went on the fritz
I went back to my havrusa
She went back to Yitz
It's time to go, I told my rebbe
Who stared at me agape
Do what you must, he said,
But know you never can escape
The fact
That you're Tangled Up in Black

I got a job at JTS
Taking Boesky's name off the wall
Women rabbis were fine, I guess
But the cantors were much too tall
So I drifted down to Chofetz Chaim
Where they treated me like a goy
I memorized the Mishna Brura
They knew it was just a ploy
Until the Rosh Yeshiva's daughter
Wrapped me up in tefillin leather
They didn`t know if they should kick me out
Or count it as a feather
In my hat
Tangled Up in Black

She was working as a mivkah lady
Seeing what never shows
I stopped in erev Yom Kippur
And handed her my clothes
She had run away from a Bais Yaakov
Which filled me up with hope
I asked her if she'd take the plunge
She quickly answered nope
But later on at Kosher Delight
She whispered it would be fine
Was then I knew with a sudden fright
That I didn't have a line
Of attack
Tangled Up in Black

She took the cholent off the blech
And offered me a bowl
Yeshiva boys, she said and laughed
You think God wants self-control
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by a Spanish rabbi
Of the fourteenth century
And every one of those words was lewd
They burnt me like a fire
Till I saw my rebbe's face
And felt my desire
Jump the track
Tangled Up in Black

We lived in sin in the Upper West Side
Davened at Lincoln Square
I remember how Riskin smiled with pride
Whe he saw she covered her hair
Then we started talking of halachic change
And Agudah taped our lunch
I knew I had to be out of range
Before the right-wing crunch
We kissed goodbye at JFK
She whispered it's been real... fun
Was that teshuva in my heart
Or just the feel of the gun
At my back
Tangled Up in Black

So now I'm on my own again
Waiting for God's command
Is it off in India
Or with my friends in the Promised Land
Some raise baby physicians
Some search for the ten lost tribes
Don't know if they'd eat in my kitchen
Don't know if I envy their lives
Me, I can't stick around
I'm too tired to argue the point
All I want to do is get home
Amd maybe smoke a joint
Or do some crack
Tangled Up in Black

Note: This song was initially premiered for Purim '86 or '87, All incidents, personalities, etc. were entirely fictitious. Copyright Larry Yudelson, 1986-97.

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