Blowin’ in the Wind

“Blowin’ in the Wind” was on Dylan’s first album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and he claimed it took him “10 minutes to write” (Naylor). The song went on to become a landmark piece for the Civil Rights movement and it was even played at the Lincoln Memorial before Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a Dream Speech.” The lyrics state “Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?” a sentiment that described directly the plight of African Americans who, several decades after the end of slavery, still did not enjoy basic freedoms as American citizens. Although the lyrics are hard and questioning lyrics, “Blowin’ in the Wind” is set to simple tune with guitar and a characteristic Dylan vocal delivery. These aspects allow the song to seem both carefree and easy, while the solo voice and acoustic guitar create a feeling of intimacy.  Bob Dylan’s ability to connect to listeners’ emotions gave the song much of its power.  This song went on to be used in numerous marches and other events during the Civil Rights movement.

Bob Dylan was very open about his songwriting process and once said “[I am] not going to limit what I can say. I have to be true to the song.” This allowed him to express very abstract ideas about ethics and what he saw as right and wrong. “Blowin’ in the Wind” was also used in the Vietnam anti-war movement, where supporters connected to the lines “Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly, before they’re forever banned?”

“Blowin’ in the Wind” takes questions regarding social problems of the 1960’s, like war and civil rights, sets them to a simple, singable melody. The pairing of this pleasant melody with powerful messages made “Blowin’ in the Wind” something of a universal protest song, used widely in the 1960’s and afterward to support various causes. Bob Dylan gives but but a single answer to each of these questions, stating that the answer is “blowin’ in the wind,” implying that the answer is ambivalent and it could be right in front of you or halfway across the world. “Blowin’ in the Wind” significantly impacted both the civil rights movement and and anti-Vietnam war movement.  It has continued to be covered by numerous 20th century musicians, ultimately revealing the power of its questions.


Naylor, Brian. “‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ Still Asks The Hard Questions.” NPR. NPR, 21 Oct. 2000. Web. 05 Oct. 2015.

Dylan, Bob. Blowin’ in the Wind. Bob Dylan. Columbia Records, 1963. Web.