The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #17318   Message #167124
Posted By: GUEST,flattop
23-Jan-00 - 11:32 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Blowin' in the Wind (Bob Dylan)
Subject: RE: Who wrote this famous Dylan song?
In his book My Back Pages, Andy Gill wrote two interesting pages on Blowin in the Wind. He quotes Dave Van Ronk as saying to Dylan, "What an incredibly dumb song! What the hell is blowing in the wind?" Gill says that, a few weeks later, Ronk heard someone parodying the song in Washington Square Park and realized that Dylan had come up with an enduring cliche.

Gill pointed out that by focusing on questions, and not answers, Dylan had 'struck a chord with the youthful protest movement validating their concern while absolving them from the obligation to come up with absolute answers to the problems about which they protested.' Gill felt that this was the reason for the popularity of the song. It still works today. We can feel good just by sympathizing while folks freeze in the streets.

But that wasn't the only brilliant, cheeky, writing ploy. The verses go from the specific to the general, from the roads with a man walking down, to the missing answers to unspecified questions blowing in the wind. WoeWoman will probably tell you that this a backwards way to write a story. Newspaper articles and essays tend to be written from the general to the specific. Yet Dylan's backward writing feels concrete, partly because "blowin' in the wind" creates solid images around fluffy abstract ideas. Clever!