Bob Dylan And The Protest Movement Of The 1960's

2442 words - 10 pages

The 1960s were a period of dramatic change from what seemed the simplistic 1950s. You could sense that when John Kennedy, the leader of Camelot and all that it represented, was assassinated in Dallas that an age of innocence in the United States (USA) was ending. However, while the tragic demise of Kennedy and his replacement by Johnson who appeared a throwback to an earlier era seemed to signal changing times, the issues were emerging before this. The first baby boomers were now teenagers and they seemed alienated from the conservative world of their parents. The Civil Rights movement was well underway and the Cold War seemed to be without end. A far away place called Vietnam was starting ...view middle of the document...

# From these beginnings, Dylan became one the most influential poets, singers and guitarist in American music history. One source identifies him as America's greatest writer of popular songs.#His impact on the protest movements of the 1960s can be seen through an examination of his songs of that time. Blowin' in the Wind and The Times they are a Changin' became near anthems of the civil rights movements and became wildly popular. Other songs such as Mr. Tambourine Man perhaps focussed on the emerging drug culture and captured the sense of the times.5 This paper examines Dylan's impact through an analysis of the lyrics, context and impact of these three songs.Blowin' in the WindThis song, which was released in 1963, was written as a protest song and was central to the civil rights movement. While originally recorded by Dylan, it became a huge hit when recorded by the folk group of Peter, Paul and Mary. My father remembers seeing on television the song being performed by Peter, Paul and Mary at massive protest movements. Having others "capture" his songs was a pattern that would continue as Dylan's singing voice has been described as "flaying harshness" and "very much like a dog with his leg caught in barbed wire."#The second verse of this song seemed to speak to the civil rights movement.Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man haveBefore he can hear people cry?Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knowsThat too many people have died.#Dylan used to speak fondly of the civil rights movement and was certainly helpful to it. His personal political philosophy was left leaning perhaps due to his upbringing in a Jewish family in Northern Minnesota, which has a Democratic tradition. He appeared with his friends Joan Baez and Rabbi Joachim Prinz at Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech in Washington in 1963.# This type of visible support could also reinforce the use of his music as the anthems of protest.The popularity of Blowin' in the Wind was such that it also became a song of the protest movement against the Vietnam War. Some of the lyrics are certainly appropriate for its use as an antiwar song.Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls flyBefore they're forever banned?The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the windThe answer is blowin' in the wind.#This crossover between protests is perhaps understandable due to both the enormous popularity of the song and its general "protest theme" and the fact that the opposition to the Vietnam War was based also based on campuses. This is interesting as those who actually went to Vietnam were, for the most part, working class kids or African Americans who did not have the benefit of the automatic draft deferral for going to college.1# The civil rights era started before the opposition to the Vietnam War but the two movements did overlap in time so it is not surprising the music also did.The Times They are a-Changin'Dylan's 1964 song The Times They are a-Changin' voiced his view that his generation...

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