Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dylan's Lyrics and Our Perceptions

Tonight I was watching a movie about Bob Dylan and I am remembering that when he came out with songs like Chimes of Freedom, Blowin in the Wind, The Times They Are A-Changin, Like A Rolling Stone, and so many others that were radically distanced from any other popular songs, that these songs opened up a whole new universe when I heard them, sang them, played them. To this day, I get chills when some of his songs come into memory or on the radio because the lyrics are still powerful now, maybe even more so.

There are a few times in our lives when we come across material that really causes us to see the world with new eyes. It could be a book, a movie, a work of art; many things could be the stimulus.

Consider this:
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight,
flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
and for each and every underdog soldier in the night
and we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

or this:
How does it feel? How does it feel?
to be on your own
like a complete unknown,
like rolling stone.

Come gather round people wherever you roam
and admit that the waters around you have grown
the old ways are rapidly aging
you'd better start swimming or sink like a stone
for the times they are a-changin.

He wrote songs like this more than 40 years ago, and yet they could have been written about what is going on all around us today.

And once that change was injected into pop music, music could never be exactly the same again, as simple and innocuous as it once was. Oh yes, there has been simple, innocuous, sappy and stupid pop music since then, but ever since Dylan gave it an injection of transcendental and metaphysical poetry, that strain has always been present, even though at times it is hidden well below the surface and at other times it rises up boldly again. Some music is fun, some music is great to dance to, and some music calls out to your soul.

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