The Freewheelin Bob Dylan
1963 | Folk
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“Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist, before they're allowed to be free? -- Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head, And pretend that he just doesn't see? ”
- The song was an inspiration for Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Cooke even recorded a live version on Sam Cooke at the Copa.
- The Momma’s & The Poppa’s performed the most commercially successful rendition of the song.
- The opening line “How many roads must a man walk down?” Is presented as the ultimate question in Douglas Adams’ novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
THE HOT TAKES
How many wars will we have before humanity learns its lesson? How long must we restrict freedom before we see that this is not the way forward? When will the costs be too high?
Blowin' In The Wind, Bob Dylan: Dylan takes the point of view of the seer in this song. Lamenting the seemingly never ending cycle of man repeating the same poor choices. The lyrics leave an almost biblical impression, reminiscent of Ecclesiastes 1:14 “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind,” or John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going…” As libertarians, I feel we are often in the same position of the seer in this song. Stepping outside the status quo and seeing many of the problems of The State, while also seeing the unwillingness of the majority of people to address those problems in a new way. Sometimes we may feel too, as if the answers we have may as well be blowing in the wind. In the air, but fleeting in the minds of the masses.
I think the interesting thing to get at here is that he simultaneously focuses on the individual experience of a person in a world that seems to love war while questioning whether it’s something ephemeral that allows us to destroy like we do. As libertarians the war question probably consumes a disproportionate amount of our time. I’d take a wild guess and say we have wildly different economic positions than Dylan but on the war front he represents an era when the left was still good on war.