Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan

Blowin’ In The Wind

Bob Dylan / 2:46

Musician: Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, harmonica

Recording Studio: Columbia Recording Studios / Studio A, New York: July 9, 1962

As surprising as it may seem, Dylan wrote “Blowin’ in the Wind” in just ten minutes on April 16, 1962. He was in a coffee shop, the Commons, opposite the Gaslight, the mythical center of the folk scene in the heart of Greenwich Village, where not only Dylan but also Richie Havens, Jose Feliciano, and Bruce Springsteen, among others, got their start. In 2004, when CBS newsman Ed Bradley asked Dylan about the speed with which he wrote, Dylan replied honestly: “It came from… that wellspring of creativity.”  To Scorsese, he also said that regardless of where he was—in the subway, a coffee shop, “sometimes talking to someone”—he could be hit by inspiration. It was an exceptional period, and many years later he tried in vain to re-create it.

During the months following its release, “Blowin’ in the Wind” was at the heart of a controversy that had nothing to do with music. A high school student from Millburn, New Jersey, named Lorre Wyatt claimed to be the real composer of the song, which he said he sold for a thousand dollars. Several students even stated they heard Wyatt singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” before the singles by Peter, Paul and Mary and Dylan came out. This claim was taken very seriously, and Newsweek magazine repeated it in November 1963. It was only in 1974 that Lorre Wyatt admitted having lied to impress the other members of his group, the Millburnaires.

Starting with the New World Singers and Peter, Paul and Mary, hundreds of artists inserted “Blowin’ in the Wind” into their repertoire. These include Marlene Dietrich (1963), Joan Baez (1963), Marianne Faithfull (1964), Sam Cooke (1964), and Stevie Wonder (who reached tenth place on the charts), as well as Judy Collins, Elvis Presley, Neil Young, and Ziggy Marley.

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, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, and how many years must a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
And how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, and 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, and how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
And how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

SourceBob Dylan: All The Songs

With God On Our Side – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan / 7:08

Musician: Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, harmonica

Recording Studio: Columbia Recording Studios / Studio A, New York: August 6 and 7, 1963

The melody of “With God on Our Side” closely resembles that of “The Patriot Game,” a song written by Dominic Behan, a songwriter fighting alongside the IRA (Irish Republican Army). Its title explicitly refers to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Based on St. Paul’s teaching, the lyrics radically questioned American history and, beyond that, all wars of the last century. The message was clear: if you believed the history books, the nations that triumphed were those that supposedly had God on their side. “Oh the history books tell it / They tell it so well / The cavalries charged / The Indians fell / The cavalries charged / The Indians died / Oh the country was young / With God on its side,” Dylan sang.

Surely, Dylan condemned those who claimed divine intervention to justify their murderous missions—who were, at the same time, those who wrote history. Did the Yankees have God on their side when they defeated the Confederates? The songwriter recalled a few facts that obscured the official discourse. The lines “Though they murdered six million / In the ovens they fried / The Germans now too / Have God on their side” let us understand that Germany, twenty years after World War II, was now on the side of freedom, under the benevolent influence of the United States. Then in the second to last verse, Dylan forced the listener to take sides concerning “That Jesus Christ / Was betrayed by a kiss / But I can’t think for you / You’ll have to decide / Whether Judas Iscariot / Had God on his side.” Once again, the criticism stung: it was addressed not so much to religious congregations as to political leaders and opinion makers who carried out wars in the name of God.

Oh my name it ain’t nothin’

My age it means less

The country I come from

Is called the Midwest

I was taught and brought up there

The laws to abide

And that land that I live in

Has God on its side


Oh, the history books tell it

They tell it so well

The cavalries charged

The Indians fell

The cavalries charged

The Indians died

Oh, the country was young

With God on its side


The Spanish-American

War had its day

And the Civil War, too

Was soon laid away

And the names of the heroes

I was made to memorize

With guns in their hands

And God on their side


The First World War, boys

It came and it went

The reason for fighting

I never did get

But I learned to accept it

Accept it with pride

For you don’t count the dead

When God’s on your side


The Second World War

Came to an end

We forgave the Germans

And then we were friends

Though they murdered six million

In the ovens they fried

The Germans now, too

Have God on their side


I’ve learned to hate the Russians

All through my whole life

If another war comes

It’s them we must fight

To hate them and fear them

To run and to hide

And accept it all bravely

With God on my side


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 world wide

And you never ask questions

When God’s on your side


Through many a dark hour

I’ve been thinkin’ about this

That Jesus Christ was

Betrayed by a kiss

But I can’t think for you

You’ll have to decide

Whether Judas Iscariot

Had God on his side.


So now as I’m leavin’

I’m weary as Hell

The confusion I’m feelin’

Ain’t no tongue can tell

The words fill my head

And fall to the floor

That if God’s on our side

He’ll stop the next war

Source: Bob Dylan: All The Songs

Masters of War – Bob Dylan

Masters of War

Bob Dylan / 4:31

Musician: Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar

Recording Studio: Columbia Recording Studios / Studio A, New York: April 23, 1963

Bob Dylan wrote “Masters of War” during the winter of 1962–63, right after the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. He sang “Masters of War” in public at Gerde’s Folk City for the first time on January 21, 1963, and published the lyrics soon after in February in Broadside (number 20) along with drawings by Suze Rotolo, two months before the official recording session with Columbia.

Ironically, when the readers of Broadside read the lyrics and when the public at large discovered it, the repercussions were considerable. Very rarely—perhaps never—had Americans ever heard such a bitter and determined condemnation of war.

For many people, this was a misunderstanding. “Masters of War” is not an ode to pacifism—even if students quickly turned it into a hymn against American involvement in Vietnam, but rather an aggressive attack on the warmongers, on those who have vested interests in seeing the world explode into conflict and, as the song says so eloquently, “hide behind desks.” The songwriter was alluding to the American military-industrial complex, which was first denounced by Dwight D. Eisenhower himself in his farewell address from the Oval Office on January 17, 1961. In an interview granted to USA Today on September 10, 2001, Dylan was explicit: “[‘Masters of War’] is not an antiwar song. It’s speaking against what Eisenhower was calling a military-industrial complex as he was making his exit from the presidency. That spirit was in the air, and I picked it up”

Come, you masters of war

You that build the big guns

You that build the death planes

You that build all the bombs


You that hide behind walls

You that hide behind desks

I just want you to know

I can see through your masks


You that never done nothin’

But build to destroy

You play with my world


Like it’s your little toy

You put a gun in my hand

And you hide from my eyes

And you turn and run farther


When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old

You lie and deceive

A world war can be won


You want me to believe

But I see through your eyes

And I see through your brain

Like I see through the water


That runs down my drain


You fasten all the triggers

For the others to fire


Then you sit back and watch

While the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion

While the young peoples’ blood


Flows out of their bodies

And is buried in the mud


You’ve thrown the worst fear


That can ever be hurled

Fear to bring children

Into the world

For threatenin’ my baby


Unborn and unnamed

You ain’t worth the blood

That runs in your veins


How much do I know

To talk out of turn?

You might say that I’m young

You might say I’m unlearned


But there’s one thing I know

Though I’m younger than you

That even Jesus would never

Forgive what you do


Let me ask you one question

Is your money that good?

Will it buy you forgiveness?


Do you think that it could?

I think you will find

When your death takes its toll

All the money you made


Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die

And your death will come soon

I’ll follow your casket

On a pale afternoon

I’ll watch while you’re lowered

Down to your deathbed

And I’ll stand over your grave

‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Source: Bob Dylan: All The Songs