bob dylan, books

"He has his finger on the pulse of our generation"

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Finished Ravi Shankar’s autobiography Raga Mala, as well as Suze Rotolo’s memoir A Freewheelin’ Time. Both were fascinating, and described – in detail – places that are extremely allusive and appealing to me. The beginning of Ravi Shankar’s book presents such beautiful imagery of India that I am getting really hungry to go there (someday). And the beat/folk scene described in Rotolo’s book make Greenwich Village in the 60’s come alive again, with its underground venues and brick apartments. The parts about Bob Dylan were fascinating as well. Highly recommend both books!

Interesting note: I have seen many “Greatest Songs Ever Written” lists and “Like A Rolling Stone” always seems to be (if not number one) at the top of the list. It’s certainly always the top Dylan song. And while I agree it is fantastically written and sounds great, there are other Dylan songs that I think should come first. Of course this is all my own humble opinion…but what about “The Times They Are A-Changin'”? I know it seems obvious, but when you take the time to think about it – not only are the lyrics incredible, but that song was so powerful at the time it was written. Maybe those lists are trying to look at the music and lyrics objectively (not in context), but to me, part of what makes a song so great is how it related to that point in history. Rotolo made a great point of this in her book: in the early 1960s, the new generation of young people were already starting to recognize the problems surrounding them, and beginning to stand up for change. Dylan’s song served as an anthem for this new outlook, whether he meant for it to or not.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

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
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

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