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Messages in Bob Dylan’s Songs and Performances

Bob Dylan is one of the most unique and influential musicians of the 20th century, particularly in the 1960s. Born as Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941, Bob Dylan created a new music style and is still regarded as the greatest songwriter and a prominent figure in popular culture more than fifty years later. Poetry, writing, and music both had an effect on Dylan. He quickly became drawn to folk music when he discovered how much more depth it had (Dylan, 2018). He began building a name for himself when he started singing other people’s songs, especially Woody Guthrie’s songs at a local bar before he was noticed and later recorded his album. The song The Times Are A-Changin’ is one of the hits that brought him to the spotlight as it was considered a protest song that supported the Civil Rights Movement. He was a notable and dominant figure in popular culture during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Bob Dylan became a huge hit, selling millions of albums; over 2000 artists recorded over 500 of Dylan’s tracks. In reality, his achievement won him the Nobel Prize in literature in 2016.

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The song Blowin’ in the wind was written by Bob Dylan in 1962 then released in 1963. The song was released as a single in his album called the Freewheelin. The song speaks about humanity, war and peace and other ambiguous questions that people refuse to answer. Bob Dylan claims that the answers are already there. Some of the lyrics:

“Yes, ‘n’, how many times must a man lookup
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people, cry?”

These lyrics reflect on what the singer believed to be freedom and equality while fighting for justice. He addresses the socio-cultural issues while spreading a message of unity and commentary for the whole world.7“How many years can some people exist before they are allowed to be free?” Dylan’s lyrics heightened the strength of the post-1967 concerted fusion of personal protest and political activism.

Another song that Bob Dylan released was “North Country Blues,” which was recorded in 1963 and released in 1964 from the third album “The Times Are a-Changin.” Some of the lyrics from the song are:

Well, a long winter’s wait from the window I watched
My friends, they could not have been kinder
And my schooling was cut as I quit in the spring
To marry John Thomas, a miner.

The song’s theme of global transition and the devastation of societies and people by an uncaring economic structure is somewhat similar to a Dylan theme. Musically, the chord series is as tragic and straightforward as it can be: A minor and G major alternate. The rocking gently backwards and forwards was not of an older man on the porch loving his golden years but of a lonely, poor, hungry woman struggling to keep herself together.

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Bob Dylan also released a song called “The Times Are a-Changin, ” where he supports social change, saying that it is unstoppable. In the second verse of the song, he indicates that “Come writers and critics/ Who prophesize with your pen/ And keep your eyes wide/ The chance won’t come again/ And don’t speak too soon/ For the wheel’s still in spin.” The song made the civil rights movement a challenge that became realized. Compared to the other songs, this song is relaxed and has a slow tempo, giving it one kind of vibe. Bob Dylan gave rock and roll a new sound through his style of writing and his talent is still celebrated to date.


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Brinkley, Douglas. “Bob Dylan Has a Lot on His Mind.”.” The New York Times12 (2020). Web.

Cott, Jonathan, ed. Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews. Simon and Schuster, 2017. Web.

Dylan, B. (2018). Bob Dylan. History and biography. Web.

Firdaus, Wildan. The civil rights movement in Bob Dylan’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and the times they are a-Changin’albums. Diss. UIN Sunan Gunung Djati Bandung, 2019. Web.

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Kooper, A. (2020). Bob Dylan. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web.

Mateus, Jorge Arévalo. “Girl from the North Country and Woody Sez: Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Musical Theatre.” Woody Guthrie Annual 3 (2017): 64-73. Web.

McCann, Shaun R. “The times they are a changin.” (2020): 673-674.Web.

Special Rider Music. (2018). Blowin’ in the wind | the official Bob Dylan site. The Official Bob Dylan Site. Web.

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