Monday, April 21, 2008

Dylan Songs

Bob Dylan: music legend.

I was watching an excellent biography on his life on A&E--very informative--and they went into great detail about the meanings behind his songs as well as the details surrounding his personal life and career. Being a Bob Dylan fan, I know many of his hundreds of songs, but perhaps I don't always take the time to take it a step further and really listen to his messages.

Dylan was quoted in the biography, "My songs are pictures, and my hand makes the song to those pictures." He surely does create ideas, images, and opinions about his time period. He picked up on what was going on around him (especially during the tumultuous 1960s) and put words to it, speaking on behalf of his generation. He deemed himself a master of the language more than a musician. Interesting that he ties himself more with his lyrics than the songs themselves...

Before I get into the songs, I just briefly wanted to state the origin of Dylan when he changed his name from Bobby Zimmerman to Bob Dylan. A childhood friend reports that Dylan was really into a poet called Dylan Thomas, and he took the name from him because he liked it and he had cool ideas. Others report other origins, but we'll never know unless Dylan states it himself.

Below, I am going to state the songs and meanings as depicted in the A&E biography I watched only a day or so ago:

"The Ballad of Emmett Till:" social commentary on a black man who whistled at a white woman during the 1960s and the effects that man suffered from his behavior.

"Oxford Town:" social commentary on the attempts of integration on his college, the University of Minnesota.

"Blowin' in the Wind:" voice for the Civil Rights Movement.

"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall:" on the Cuban Missle Crisis.

"Song to Woody:" a tribute to Dylan's musical inspiration, Woody Guthrie.

"Don't Think Twice It's Alright:" on his first heartbreak with his first serious girlfriend Suzie Rotollo.

"The Times They Are A-Changin':" on the social change of the 1960s.

"Subterranean Homesick Blues:" on the Youth Movement of the 1960s.

"Mr. Tambourine Man:" unknown origin from Dylan himself, but allegations of a drug reference as the tambourine man as the drug dealer himself calling out to the youth. Dylan denies this, but commented that drugs bend the mind a little, as he introduced them to the Beatles, inspiring albums such as Rubber Soul and Revolver.

"Hurricane:" commentary on the incident where the Hurricane boxer was falsely accused of murder.

"Like a Rolling Stone:" on Vietnam from the eyes of the youth generation.

"Idiot Wind:" on Dylan's bitterness, separation with wife, his pain, and personal problems after success.

"You've Gotta Serve Somebody:" on finding Jesus Christ, an attempt at Christain Rock.

What other songs/meanings do you know? What Bob Dylan song is your favorite and why?

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