The Times They Are A-Changin'
Who can imagine the world of modern music without the influence of Bob Dylan? This chronicler of social unrest, its reluctant figurehead, produced throughout the 1960s and beyond a range of celebrated songs and ballads that have inspired innumerable musicians to follow in his footsteps. Classics suh as Blowin' in the Wind and, of course, the unforgettable The Times They Are a-Changin' have become anthems for the American civil rights movement, and subsequent anti-war movements. Grounded in the traditions of American folk music, yet adventurous and creative far beyond this genre, Dylan pushed the boundaries of what popular music could do.
It was in 1963 that Dylan wrote The Times They Are a-Changin, with the deliberate purpose in mind of writing an anthem that would inspire change in the nation that he feared for. Describing the compositional experience, he cites the role of Irish and Scottish ballads in his writing, as well as the folk music of his native home that he knew and loved so well. A protest song and a call for justice, these few minutes of perfect harmony between lyric and melody did indeed inspire change in America, and still feel pertinent when sung today.
It is poignant to remember that less than a month after the song was recorded, President Kennedy's assassination shook up the world order. On the very next night, on 23 November 1963, Dylan opened a concert with The Times They Are a-Changin. Recalling the event to his biographer, Dylan said, "I thought, 'Wow, how can I open with that song? I'll get rocks thrown at me'. But I had to sing it, my whole concert takes off from there. I know I had no understanding of anything. Something had just gone haywire in the country and they were applauding the song. And I couldn't understand why they were clapping, or why I wrote the song. I couldn't understand anything. For me, it was just insane." Listen to this and more works from Dylan's hand in our special playlist of Dylan classics.