Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bob Dylan: A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (1964)



Bob Dylan [born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota] performs “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at CBC-TV studios in Toronto, Ontario, taped on February 1st, 1964 and broadcast on March 10th, 1964. This is part of a six-song set performed for the show, Quest; the songs in order, all of which can be heard here, are as follows:
  1. The Times They Are A-Changin’
  2. Talking World War III Blues
  3. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
  4. Girl From The North Country
  5. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
  6. Restless Farewell
You can hear Patti Smith, aged 69, perform her rendition of the song at yesterday’s Nobel Prize ceremony, in Stockhom, Sweden, in tribute to Bob Dylan winning the Nobel in Literature (2016). Dylan, aged 75, was not in attendance. A twenty-one-year-old Dylan wrote the song in the summer of 1962 and recorded it on December 6, 1962. It is the sixth and last track on Side 1 of his second studio album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, released by Columbia Records on May 27, 1963.

The poetic lyrics tell an old and continuing story, but with a modern retelling and a grotesque twist, a story of man’s inhumanity to man, which includes poisoning our minds, both figuratively and literally: disseminating lies and deceptions as facts and truth, committing sins of commission and omission, normalizing false pieties and disingenuousness, tolerating the strong belittling the weak, and ignoring the powerless and the poor, and, most important, forgetting to love where and when it is most needed.

Is there not a price to pay for all this failure?

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
by Bob Dylan

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son? Oh, where have you been, my darling young one? I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what did you see, my darling young one? I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’ I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’ I saw a white ladder all covered with water I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son? And what did you hear, my darling young one? I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’ Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’ Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’ Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’ Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son? Who did you meet, my darling young one? I met a young child beside a dead pony I met a white man who walked a black dog I met a young woman whose body was burning I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow I met one man who was wounded in love I met another man who was wounded with hatred And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one? I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’ I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest Where the people are many and their hands are all empty Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten Where black is the color, where none is the number And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’ But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’ And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

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