Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bob Dylan At 76

Bob Dylan was only 21 on July 9, 1962 when he walked into the Columbia Recording Studios in New York to record a song to be included on his second album. The song, Blowin' in the Wind, brought him fame and recognition as one of the nation's leading folk poets in the twentieth century. The lyrics and Dylan's comments on the song were published in June 1962 in the folk journal, Sing Out. He said this:

Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some ...But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know . . . and then it flies away.

The music critic, Andy Gill, said this about the song in his book, Classic Bob Dylan, 1962-1969: My Back Pages:

Blowin' in the Wind marked a huge jump in Dylan's songwriting. Prior to this, efforts like The Ballad of Donald White and The Death of Emmett Till had been fairly simplistic bouts of reportage songwriting. Blowin' in the Wind was different: for the first time, Dylan discovered the effectiveness of moving from the particular to the general. Whereas The Ballad of Donald White would become completely redundant as soon as the eponymous criminal was executed, a song as vague as Blowin' in the Wind could be applied to just about any freedom issue. It remains the song with which Dylan's name is most inextricably linked, and safeguarded his reputation as a civil libertarian through any number of changes in style and attitude.

The song remains a poem for our times, perhaps all times.

At the political blog, Powerline, Scott Johnson has made a number of observations on Dylan's impact on the American musical experience.  Here are his posts from 2016, the first, Not Dark Yet, discussing the man and his significance in the world of music and beyond, and the second, devoted to Dylan the songwriter. Both posts feature any number of links for fans who want to explore Dylan in depth as well as hear several likely unfamiliar covers of the master's work. 


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain photo, 1964 Yearbook, St. Lawrence University, New York

Bob Dylan entry,

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