Blowin in the wind

7 July 2016

How many roads must a man walk down Before you call him a man? How many seas must a white dove sail Before she 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 ow 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. Yes, ‘n 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. Dylan originally wrote and performed a two-verse version of the song; its first public performance, at Gerde’s Folk City on April 16, 1962, was recorded and circulates among Dylan collectors. Shortly after this performance, he added the middle verse to the song.

Some published versions of the lyrics reverse the order of the second and third verses, apparently because Dylan simply appended the middle verse to his original manuscript, rather than writing out a new copy with the verses in proper order. [3] The song was published for the first time in May 1962, in the sixth issue of Broadside, the magazine founded by Pete Seeger and devoted to topical songs. [4] The theme may have been taken from a passage in Bound for Glory, where Woody Guthrie compares his political sensibility to newspapers blowing in the winds of New York City streets and alleys.

Dylan was certainly familiar with Guthrie’s work and reading this book had been a major turning point in his intellectual and political development. [5] 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. [6]

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