Monday, May 27, 2013

50 years ago: Bob Dylan “Blowin’ in the Wind” released

Blowin’ in the Wind

Bob Dylan

Writer(s): Bob Dylan (see lyrics here)

Released (album cut): May 27, 1963

Released (single): August 13, 1963

Peak: 1 CL, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 43.8 video, 129.63 streaming

Blowin’ in the Wind

Peter, Paul & Mary

First Charted: June 29, 1963

Peak: 2 US, 2 CB, 2 HR, 15 AC, 13 UK, 25 CN, 11 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 29.2 video, 16.75 streaming

Blowin’ in the Wind

Stevie Wonder

First Charted: July 16, 1966

Peak: 9 US, 11 CB, 11 RB, 36 UK, 12 CN, 4 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.4 video, -- streaming

Awards (Bob Dylan):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Peter, Paul & Mary):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Rolling Stone proclaimed “Blowin’ in the Wind” was “the most famous protest song ever written.” RS500 In his Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Steve Sullivan calls it “the defining song of folk music’s alliance with the civil rights movement.” SS “While the perspective of passing decades has not been uniformly kind to other social protest songs of its era, the stature of ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ has not diminished one iota. The questions it poses are eternal and the eloquence with which it presents them remains powerful.” SS “It’s a plea for people to open their eyes and ears to injustice in the world.” SS

In Martin Scorsese’s Dylan documentary No Direction Home, Mavis Staples said she was astonished upon first hearing the song that a young white man could write something that so successfully captured the frustration of black people. WK Sam Cooke was inspired by the song to write “A Change Is Gonna Come,” another song strongly associated with the civil rights movement. WK

The song “introduced most of America to the man whose song-poetry would change the shape of popular music.” SS Critic Andy Gill said, “It remains the song with which Dylan’s name is mos inextricably linked.” WK Robert Allen Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan, was signed to Columbia Records and released his self-titled debut album in 1962. While it went largely unnoticed, the follow-up, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, produced iconic songs including “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Masters of War,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” and, of course, “Blowin’ in the Wind.” This was what Rolling Stone called “Dylan’s first important composition.” RS500

The melody is adapted from the slavery-era, African-American spiritual “No More Auction Block.” WK In The Folk Songs of North America, Alan Lomax exerts that “the song was sung by former slaves who fled to Nova Scotia after Britain abolished slavery in 1833.” WK The “language is rooted as much in Woody Guthrie’s earthy vernacular as in biblical rhetoric. But in a decisive break with the current-events conventions of topical folk songs, Dylan framed the crises around him in a series of fierce, poetic questions that addressed what he believed was man’s greatest inhumanity to man: indifference. ‘Some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong,’ he declared in the Freewheelin’ liner notes.” RS500

Dylan published the song in May 1962 in Broadside, a magazine founded by Pete Seeger about topical songs. WK He then recorded it on July 9, 1962 for the Freewheelin’ album. WK Before the album was even released, Dylan performed the song in Greenwich Village with Peter, Paul & Mary in the audience. The folk trio loved it and arranged to record it. SS It has also been recorded by Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, Marianne Faithfull, the Four Seasons, Etta James, Ziggy Marley, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Elvis Presley, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and Neil Young.


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First posted 8/24/2022.

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