Sunday, October 24, 2010

Peter, Paul & Mary: Blowin' in the Wind

From a performance by Peter, Paul & Mary: 1966.

Written by: Bob Dylan, 1962.
Song's Origina: "No More Auction Block," a Negro spiritual originating from Canada.
It was sung by former slaves who fled to Canada after Britain abolished slavery in 1833. Mr. Dylan has confirmed its origins.
First Public Performance: April 16, 1962: Gerdes Folk City: Greenwich Village, New York
Album: The Freewhellin' Bob Dylan: May 27, 1963.
Rank: No 14 on Rolling Stone list (2004).

The song has biblical allusions, and its meaning is elliptical. It has been described as a protest song of the 1960s, which it became. Yet, it reaches beyond time, becoming an anthem of injustice and slavery, and of the yearning for freedom that marks all human aspirations. Such explains its universal appeal. Here is some background on the song's origins, from Wikipedia:
"Blowin' in the Wind" became world famous when it was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, who were also represented by Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman. The single sold a phenomenal three hundred thousand copies in the first week of release. On July 13, 1963, it reached number two on the Billboard pop chart, with sales exceeding one million copies. Peter Yarrow recalled that, when he told Dylan he would make more than $5,000 (in 1963 dollars) from the publishing rights, Dylan was speechless. Peter, Paul & Mary's version of the song also spent five weeks atop the easy listening chart.

"Blowin' in the Wind" is a song written by Bob Dylan and released on his 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Although it has been described as a protest song, it poses a series of questions about peace, war, and freedom. The refrain "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind" has been described as "impenetrably ambiguous: either the answer is so obvious it is right in your face, or the answer is as intangible as the wind."

In 1999, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004, it was ranked no. 14 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."
In June 1962, the song was published in Sing Out!, accompanied by Dylan's comments:
There ain’t too much I can say about this song except that the answer is blowing in the wind. It ain’t in no book or movie or TV show or discussion group. Man, it’s in the wind—and it’s blowing in the wind. Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some  ...But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know ...and then it flies away I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many  ...You people over 21, you’re older and smarter.

Blowin' In The Wind
By Bob Dylan

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

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind
How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Copyright © 1962 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1990 by Special Rider Music
Announcement of October 20, 2010

Dear Readers:

I have decided to reduce the number of blogs/essays that I post weekly—from five to three each week. The articles will appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week starting this week. Thus, the next article will appear on Friday Oct 22nd. It will be on Harold Pinter, Nobel laureate and playwright.
          I will continue to post musical blogs periodically as I have been doing the past two months. These changes are necessary so as to maintain the highly consistent standards that you have come to expect from this blog. I enjoy writing these essays, particularly since they bring up and discuss important issues that affect us all.
       I hope and trust that you keep reading this blog. And, if you have any time or thoughts to share, please drop me a short note.


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