Tag Archives: Blowin’ in the Wind

THE MANY-FACETED MR. DYLAN

I SWEAR THERE WERE A FEW UNDER-60s IN THE AUDIENCE...A FEW.
I SWEAR THERE WERE A FEW UNDER-60s IN THE AUDIENCE…A FEW.

 Last Tuesday night, my friend and I went to see Bob Dylan at the Kiva Auditorium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Friend Bob has been a Dylan fan since age 18 or so when he heard his first Dylan song; he doesn’t exactly say it changed his life—but close. This is around his tenth Bob concert and he knows most of the lyrics to everything The Bob has written.

I was a little older when introduced to the famous Bob from Minnesota and that was mostly from With God on Our Side which, as I’ve said previously, was my teaching aide for 6th grade social studies class, and from Peter, Paul and Mary’s version of Blowin’ in the Wind.

 As I drove home Tuesday night, neither slightly inebriated nor stoned—as might have been the case in the past—it became clear to me I had in the space of that hour been attentive to several Dylans. Let me explain:

First there was Bob Dylan, practically a home town boy from Hibbing, Minnesota; my town Northome just a few miles and a lifestyle or so away, the difference between a mining town and a village of Norwegian lumberjacks. Given the remoteness of northern Minnesota from the rest of the world, and the fact Bob Dylan and I are almost exactly the same age, I choose to claim kinship and listened to that gravelly voice with thoughts of both of us coming home from school in the snowy dusk of a January afternoon. I wanted to get out too but my escape was Minneapolis and then Florida and marriage. Bob did much better—the Village and folk singers’ heaven and fame and fortune.

Those thoughts alternated with the pleasure of watching that famous old poet/song writer and Nobel Literary Prize winner  gyrating a bit stiffly on stage and actually appearing to be having fun. So it’s okay to be an elder in this crazy world—having lived through some pretty stimulating times and not having to face the long future riddled with Trump-alikes.

Then there was the background music introducing me to my Albuquerque life. While not specifically Dylan, it was rock n roll of the folk variety generally, and it was playing when I moved to Albuquerque and met the ‘cool kids’ working in politics and for George McGovern. So, Tuesday night when I couldn’t understand a word being sung in some of the numbers, I metaphorically closed my eyes and drifted back there…

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

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BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

BOB DYLAN AND THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE

Sometimes the morning headlines make me smile—not often these days but sometimes—like today. Bob Dylan awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. How great is that? After I write this post I will immediately order his book, and my friend and I already have tickets for next week’s concert (my first Dylan concert actually). My personal award however goes to Dylan for With God on Our Side, the classic, all-time best description of America’s doctrine of Manifest Destiny.

BACK IN THE DAY....
BACK IN THE DAY….

I used With God on Our Side to teach my Junior High classes in American history during my brief stint as a history teacher. And is there another song as great as Blowin’ in the Wind? Or The Times They Are a-Changin’? They represent such an amazing time in my life and my friends’ lives…I am just so happy about this…we must keep thinking about the good people and songs and books out there or we’ll get mired way too deep in the sleazy side of things, i.e. politics. Maybe buried deep in all this present badness is something good—maybe not—but we’ll always have Dylan to remind us ‘the times CAN change.’

Congratulations Bob Dylan—born in Duluth, raised in Hibbing—my home territory. I’m not sure he liked it a lot over on the Iron Range but home’s home and he could not possibly have turned out this brilliantly without some Minnesota connection.

READ THIS:

With God on Our Side

Bob Dylan

Oh my name it ain’t nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I was taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side

Oh, the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh, the country was young
With God on its side

The Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War, too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I was made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side

The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side

The Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now, too
Have God on their side

I’ve learned to hate the Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side

But now we got weapons
Of chemical dust
If fire them, we’re forced to
Then fire, them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side

Through many a dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ was
Betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
That if God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war

Songwriters: Bob Dylan

With God on Our Side lyrics © Bob Dylan Music Co.