Wise Poets, Wise Poets of the Present

Bob Dylan: The Conscience of a Counter-Culture

Bob Dylan: The Conscience of a Counter-Culture

Bob Dylan: The Conscience of a Counter-Culture

He moved a generation to action with these heart-probing lyrics in which he questions the purpose of racism and war:

Blowin in the Wind

How many roads must a man walk down

Before you call him a man.

How many seas must a white dove sail

Before he sleeps in the sand?

Yes,’n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly

Before they’re forever banned?

The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, ‘n’ 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

And pretend that he just doesn’t see?

The answer, my friend is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

This song and these questions became the anthem of America’s youth for nearly two decades and those words should still haunt us today since wars and racism have not yet ceased.

Thus, was lyricist Bob Dylan was the voice of a whole generation of America’s youth in the counter-culture. The counter-culture of the ’60s was a time of major political and cultural change which was sparked by the Civil Rights Movement and the escalation of the very unpopular Vietnam war and commenced with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was a time when, much like the prohibition days of The Roaring Twenties when alcohol was illegal, people questioned authority and it came apropos for people to break the law against illegal substances and to question the traditional sexual mores of the day. It was a time of “drugs, sex and rock, and roll” also known as the “New Morality.” And Dylan was a major spokesperson for this new anti-establishment and anti-war movement that changed the entire Western world and ushered in a “New Age” beginning with his first hit “The Times they are a Changin”.The songwriter here warns the politicians and the older generation to change with the times or risk being left behind and losing control of their children.

Come senators, congressman

Please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway

Don’t block the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled…”

Come mothers come fathers

Throughout the land

And don’t criticize

What you don’t understand

Your sons and your daughters

Are beyond your command…

For the times they are a changin”.

Dylan was born on May 14, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota as Robert Allen Zimmerman but later changed his name to Dylan, some say as a tribute to poet Dylan Thomas, however, others dispute that claim, His inspiration was his musical idol, Woody Guthrie,, but he traveled to New York City where he performed folk-rock music on the coffeehouse circuit in Greenwich Village using only a harmonica, a tambourine, and a guitar and was highly influenced by the folk music artists of the day such as Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Since his debut in the early sixties, Dylan has won many music awards and most recently he has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, a great honor for the whole nation of the United States of America, but unfortunately he was unable to travel to Sweden in order to claim it due to his now failing health.

Dylan is by and large one of America’s most important poets still alive today.


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