Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan

In Music on August 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm


[Folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan perform during a civil rights rally on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C.]

This recording is part of the Kearney Barton Collection at the Washington University Libraries. The artist is Prabha Devi, recorded in 1970 for the album “Sitar Goes International”.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” is a song written by Bob Dylan and released on his album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in 1963. 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”.
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, 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, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea ?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free ?
Yes, 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.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky ?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, 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.



What’s the woman doing here?

The song was sung just before Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech in Washington DC, 50 years ago today. It marked the beginning of great freedom for the African-American people. Society went through major adjustments to advance inclusive growth for this community. From slavery to freedom was envisioned in Dr. King’s speech. 50 years later, we do not have a black President, but a President who happens to be black.

India needs a bold vision just like Dr. King’s, when it comes to gender based reform. The Delhi gang-rape of a 23 year old medical student on 16th December, 2012 highlighted a widespread moral decay in how India treats women in general. The protest marches and vigils that followed, were symbolic of a promise that changes were in the air. Almost a year later, rapes and violence against women have unfortunately continued unabated in this country. There is hopelessness among people who think that their candle-light vigils were held in vain.

The tribal lady entrepreneur smiling at you here, is a reminder that the march is not to the Mall, but from it. That it’s not a short haul, but a long one. That someday when we sit down in complete abandon and have a sip of chai, just like her, we will remember that the march started today.

Rock on Philly! ‏@RockOnPhillyMAG
On #ThisDayInMusic in 1963, Peter, Paul & Mary play Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind b4 Martin Luther King gives his I Have A Dream speech.

3:00 AM – 28 Aug 13
Source: Wikipedia

In his sleeve notes for The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991, John Bauldie writes that it was Pete Seeger who first identified the melody of “Blowin’ in the Wind” as Dylan’s adaptation of the old Negro spiritual “No More Auction Block”.

According to Alan Lomax’s The Folk Songs of North America, the song originated in Canada and was sung by former slaves who fled there after Britain abolished slavery in 1833. In 1978, Dylan acknowledged the source when he told journalist Marc Rowland:

“‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ has always been a spiritual. I took it off a song called ‘No More Auction Block’ – that’s a spiritual and ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ follows the same feeling.”

Dylan critic Michael Gray has suggested that the lyric is an example of Dylan’s incorporation of Biblical rhetoric into his own style. A particular rhetorical form deployed time and again in the New Testament and based on a text from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel (12:1–2) is:

“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Oh mortal, you dwell among the rebellious breed. They have eyes to see but see not; ears to hear, but hear not.” In “Blowin’ in the Wind”, Dylan transforms this into “Yes’n’ how many ears must one man have …?” and “Yes’ n’ how many times must a man turn his head / Pretending he just doesn’t see?”

“Blowin’ in the Wind” has been described as an anthem of the 1960s civil rights movement. In Martin Scorsese’s documentary on Dylan, No Direction Home, Mavis Staples expressed her astonishment on first hearing the song, and said she could not understand how a young white man could write something which captured the frustration and aspirations of black people so powerfully.



  1. One of my favourite songs.

    • Lovely isn’t it! How do you like the sitar rendition? I thought I should tie it to the current social woes we are facing in India.

  2. […] Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan ( […]

  3. […] Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan […]

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