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“It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.”

-Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, an infamous name in the history of music, was on a never-ending tour that started way back in mid-1988 and had to be stopped due to the onset of Coronavirus. There are certain theories about why he chose to do it. Some say that he does it so that he can present the reinvented version of his songs, to the audience and to himself. Whenever he was asked about his never-ending tour he always answered with a what else-to-do-with-it attitude. He is the only person to have ever won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his songwriting. Though, he never went to accept the award personally because of his “prior commitments” when he had no shows coming up. The commitment must have been a personal one. 

Bob Dylan has never in his whole career liked talking to the press. He spoke out loud about how they misrepresent the things or words that someone says and use them to their advantage. He even went on to say that the press was a lie. Not a lot has changed since the ’60s except it is now more intense than ever. An entire country fooled and enslaved by the ideas passed on by the media through big television screens and small handy ones too. Small handy ones are rather dangerous, for they are capable of influencing the vote share in favor of their clients and thus dismantling the entire election system. It can be said that President Kennedy’s death was more of a warning and less of a vendetta. It shook the soul of America if there was any.

Soon after, the Civil Rights Movement started in 1964, which Dylan joined and propagated by releasing and performing protest songs. Not a lot of people know this, but Dylan performed on the same stage before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous ‘I had a dream’ speech. Bob Dylan has always been vocal about Racism. In his song ‘Hurricane’, he is aggressively and desperately asking his listeners to get Rubin Carter out of jail if they have got any political pull at all.

Rubin Carter was an African-American boxer who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Patty Valentine, a 51-years old barmaid. Bob Dylan, like many other activists sternly believed that he did not kill Patty Valentine and that the person who had once been the champion of the world was jailed just because he was an African-American. He even called the trial a ‘Pig Circus’. 

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‘The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll’ is a song about the unfair justice system. Hattie Carroll was a maid killed by William Zanzinger, a 24 years old tobacco farm owner who inherited it from his ‘rich, wealthy parents’. He was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to jail for only 6 months because of his ‘high office relations in the politics of Maryland’. One song that is quite underrated and in the opinion of some people his most nuanced protest song is ‘With God on our Side’. The verse goes like this:

“But now we got weapons of chemical dust,
If fire them we’re forced to, then fire them we must,
One push of the button and a shot the worldwide,
And you never ask questions, when God’s on your side.”

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Later, he withdrew himself from the protest folk movement with the song ‘Maggie’s Farm’, in which he reinforced the notion that he was in fact, an individual and not a pawn. He added, “Well, I try my best, to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them.” The songs that he wrote in the late ’60s were an attempt to escape the distress of being named the voice of his generation. But some things you just can’t do.

Bob Dylan Like I Am

‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ is one of his most famous protest songs. A separate article can be written about this song, so to leave a verse of this song is the perfect way to conclude this one.

“The battle outside is ragin’, 

it will soon shake your windows and rattle your doors, 

For the Times they are a changin.” 

India is going through a very tough patch and the battle going on is going to shake your windows and rattle your doors because the times really are changing.

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By: Debarati Pal

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