“This here ain’t no protest song or anything like that, ’cause I don’t write no protest songs.”

— Bob Dylan 1962

 

Bob Dylan walked onstage at at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village and played a brand new song called "Blowin' In The Wind.

Bob Dylan walked onstage at at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village and played a brand new song called “Blowin’ In The Wind.

That was how Bob Dylan introduced one of the most eloquent protest songs ever written when he first performed it publicly. It was the spring of his first full year in New York City, and he was onstage at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village, talking about a song he claims to have written in just 10 minutes: “Blowin’ In The Wind.” A few weeks later, on July 9, 1962, Dylan walked into a studio and recorded the song that would make him a star.

Dylan’s recording of “Blowin’ In The Wind” would first be released nearly a full year later, on his breakthrough album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

bob-dylan-freewheelin

This was not the version of the song that most people would first hear. A cover version by Peter, Paul and Mary would not only become a smash hit but it transformed the song into the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement.  As much as I like Bob Dylan, I think because of their harmony, Peter, Paul and Mary’s did it better.  And I have to add that I would so wear Mary’s dress from this video today.  It is beautiful.

“Blowin’ In The Wind” was not like the typical protest songs of its time and that is probably why it was so effective as a protest song. Do you want to sing about racial injustice:  “How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?”   Are you seeking peace:  “How many seas must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand?”  Dylan’s statement at the beginning of my post is comical as this song is the quintessential protest song of the 1960s.

It also represented a significant breakthrough for Bob Dylan as a songwriter. From “Blowin’ In The Wind” onward, Dylan’s songs would reflect a far more personal and poetic approach to self-expression—an approach that would lead him away from songs like “The Times They Are a-Changin'” and toward songs like “Like A Rolling Stone.” And Dylan’s development as a songwriter would, in turn, have a similar effect on The Beatles, whose own move from “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to “A Day In The Life” can be traced directly to their exposure to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in the spring of 1964.

Blowin’ In The Wind

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?

african-black-man-walking-looking-down-silhouette-one-studio-white-background-31236242
Yes, ’n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?

peace-dove-and-sign
Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?

howitzer
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

71999-stock-photo-natur-himmel-weiss-sonne-blume-gruen

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?

An aerial view of the deadly mudslide in Washington. Washington State Department of Transportation/Flickr

An aerial view of the deadly mudslide in Washington. Washington State Department of Transportation/Flickr

Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?

gty_march_on_washington_martin_luther_king_ll_130819_16x9_992

Martin Luther King March on Washington

Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?

walking_past_homeless
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

71999-stock-photo-natur-himmel-weiss-sonne-blume-gruen

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?

movies_pollution.widea
Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?

afghan-girl-crying-large
Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?

05-02 St-Avold 1
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

71999-stock-photo-natur-himmel-weiss-sonne-blume-gruen

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5 responses

  1. Thom Hickey says:

    Nicely done! Regards thom

    Like

  2. Janine says:

    What a fun post! I loved hearing these songs again, and I also preferred the Peter, Paul and Mary one because of the harmonies. And those photos go really well with the lyrics 🙂

    Like

  3. Birgit says:

    Wonderful way to capture the lyrics. Good Ole Bob Dylan must have been playing us along when he stated he doesn’t write protest songs-I found that funny. I love this song and my fav too is the Peter, Paul and Mary version

    Like