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Blowing in the Wind Analysis

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Katie Harris

on 9 December 2013

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Transcript of Blowing in the Wind Analysis

Verse 3
How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky?---> This is similar to the last line of the second verse in asking- how long will it take people to realize what they are actually facing.

How many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry?---> Similar to the previous two lines, this line is referring to how long it may take for people to stop ignoring the sadness, pain, or oppression of others and to start helping them.

How many deaths will it take till he knows, that too many people have died? ---> This line says exactly what it means and greatly sums up the essence of this song. How people do have to die until everyone realizes that killing each other for both war and hate is bad?
Katherine Harris
Blowin' in the Wind
Focus of the Song:
Lyrics Analysis:
The Music Itself:
Lack of peace in the world and civil rights
Pro- Civil Rights
Humanitarian effort
Verse 1
How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man? ---> Essentially how much does someone need to do in order to have their basic rights. It is a rhetorical question appealing to both the sympathy and logic of the listener.

How many seas must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand? ---> How long will it take for people to find peace and safety.

How many times must the cannonballs fly before they are forever banned? ---> How many wars are there going to be before we realize their true destruction and stop them.
Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota on May 24, 1941, and his parents named him Robert Allen Zimmerman. He changed his name to Bob Dylan when he started playing folk and country songs. He changed his name while attending the University of Minnesota; using Dylan as his last name was inspired by Dylan Thomas, a Welsh poet who had died. He dropped out of college in 1960 and moved to New York. In 1963 Bob Dylan started a relationship with Joan Baez, and for their 2 year relationship they helped each other fuel their careers. In 1965 Dylan married Lowndes, and they had 4 children together then divorced in 1977. In July of 1966 Dylan had a near fatal motorcycle accident, and it took him almost a year to recover.
The Biography Channel. "Bob Dylan." Accessed May 29, 2013.
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

The answer is all around us, but always moving and changing. It is difficult to grasp, but the answer is in everything. Dylan is saying that we must allow the changes to come in and out like the wind rather than trying to control them. You cannot control the wind.
Verse 2
How many years can a mountain exist, before it’s washed to the sea? ---> A question focusing rhetorically on the resistance to change. This paints a picture of something mighty, such as the traditional american ideals, and shows that even in all of its might it ends up separated and washed to the seas.

How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?---> This line is straight forward in saying, how long do people have to wait to be free?

How many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see? ---> This line is saying that people turn their heads to injustice quite often even if it does bother them. People are either too afraid to help or just don’t see something as wrong.
"Blowin' In the Wind." Accessed May 29, 2013. http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/blowin-wind.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” has a very slow tempo. This suits the song: through the lyrics, Dylan implies that people aren’t able to find the solutions to very serious problems simply because they aren’t willing to stop and look for them. He seems to believe that the answers are out in the world, surrounding everyone, but going unnoticed.
Perhaps Dylan wants to whole world to slow down for a little while and just try to understand what’s around them.
This also works with the other messages of the song: great injustices go unnoticed by everyone around them. These problems would be noticed and resolved if only enough people slowed down and took the time to look around them.
The entire idea of something “blowin’ in the wind” is very peaceful, and the calm tempo of the song relates well to this image.
The instrumentation offers a similar message. For most of the song, Dylan is singing alone with a soft and simple guitar part. His voice is the main focus, and he isn’t joined by any others. There is also a harmonica part, but it’s never heard as Dylan is singing. He seems isolated in his music. The isolation speaks to the message of “Blowin’ in the Wind”. The song isn’t some big, organized group of people coming together. It’s just Bob Dylan, singing alone whenever and wherever he chooses.
This musical isolation also matches the first image of the song, of a young man walking down lonely roads. The simple, repetitive sounds of the song do call to mind the other protest songs of the time, but this one stands apart because of its calm tempo and instrumentation. It’s almost haunting to listen to.
The Song
Bob Dylan took influences from Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. His idol was Woody Guthrie who was hospitalized in New York with a nervous system disease when Dylan moved to New York. Dylan became a song writer for the 60s protest movement when he came out with the album "Times They Are A-Changin'." While Dylan was playing at 200 concerts a year by 1964, he had grown weary of his role as an artist of the protest movement, so he published the album "Another Side of Bob Dylan." Some of Dylan's fans were distraught over the fact that later on he preformed electrically, and he even got booed on stage. In the 1980's Dylan began regaining popularity, and in 1989 Dylan was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bob Dylan is still touring and producing albums.
"How many roads must a man walk down/ before you can call him a man"
References the many civil rights movements of the time: African-American, Native American, Latin American,

Women's Rights, Gay Rights. Dylan is implying that these groups of people have done far too much to still be denied basic human rights.
"How many seas must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand?"
This line reference the conflicts of the time, particularly the Vietnam War. It could also apply more generally to conflicts between different groups -race, age, gender, economic status, or beliefs- within America
"How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?"
"How many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry?"
This is another reference to the Rights (women, black, gay, Native American, Latin American, and others) movements of the time.
"How many times must the cannonballs fly before they are forever banned?"
"How many deaths will it take till he knows, that too many people have died?
This is almost certainly a reference to the Vietnam War, which was a particularly brutal and (protesters thought) needless war.
How many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see?
How many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry?
This references the way members of the counter-culture movement viewed their critics. The Americans who engaged in things like war protests and "Be-in's" didn't understand how the rest of the nation could just ignore the problems they saw in the world.
[3] "Bob Dylan Photos." Biography.com. http://www.biography.com/people/bob-dylan-9283052/photos (accessed May 29, 2013).
[2] Canto, Silvio. "Happy # 50 to Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind"." My View by Silvio Canto, Jr.. http://cantotalk.blogspot.com/2012/07/happy-50-to-bob-dylans-blowin-in-wind.html (accessed May 29, 2013).
[1]"Blowin' In The Wind Lyrics (Bob Dylan)." http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=RsjiSfAmEeoYouTube. (accessed May 29, 2013).
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