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The List: Bob Dylan’s protest songs

- The Washington Times - Friday, April 8, 2011

Bob Dylan, who came to fame with Vietnam War protest songs and civil rights anthems in the 1960s, will perform in Vietnam for the first time Sunday at an 8,250-seat university venue in Ho Chi Minh City. It's another milestone in the American troubadour's amazing and long career. This week, The List looks at Mr. Dylan's most notable protest songs.

  •  "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) — The song was made famous first by Peter, Paul and Mary. In 2004, it was ranked No. 14 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."
    "How many times must the cannonballs fly, Before they are forever banned."
  • "Oxford Town" (1962) — The song is about the riots that ensued in Oxford, Miss., when James Meredith became the first black student to be admitted to the University of Mississippi.
    "Me and my gal, my gal´s son, We got met with a tear gas bomb."
  •  "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" (1964) — The song is an account of the 1963 death of a 51-year-old black barmaid named Hattie Carroll, who was killed by a wealthy young tobacco farmer from Charles County, Md., named William Devereux "Billy" Zantzinger.
    "William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll, With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger."
  •  "Masters of War" (1963) — Released on the album "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" in the spring of 1963, the song was a protest against the Cold War arms buildup of the early 1960s.
     "You fasten all the triggers, For the others to fire, Then you set back and watch, When the death count gets higher."
  •  "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1963) — Often called the anthem of the 1960s. Less than a month after Mr. Dylan recorded the song, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. The next night, Mr. Dylan opened a concert with the song.
    "Come senators, congressmen, Please heed the call, Don't stand in the doorway, Don't block up the hall."
  • "Only a Pawn in Their Game" (1963) — The song chronicles the shooting of civil rights leader Medgar Evers.
    "A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers´ blood."
  •  "A Hard Rain´s Gonna Fall," (1962) — The song was patterned after the question-and-answer refrain of the traditional British ballad "Lord Randall," published by Francis Child. In the sleeve notes on the "Freewheelin'" album, Nat Hentoff quoted Mr. Dylan as saying that he wrote the song in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    "Oh where have you been my blue-eyed son, Oh where have you been my darling young one."
  • "With God on Your Side" (1963) — The title references Paul's Epistle to the Romans in the 1st century, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"
    "The words fill my head, And fall to the floor, If God's on our side, He'll stop the next war."
  • "Maggie's Farm" (1965) — Often called a protest song against protest folk. It recasts Mr. Dylan as the pawn and the folk music scene as the oppressor. It was released on the album "Bringing It All Back Home."
    "Well, I try my best, To be just like I am, But everybody wants you, To be just like them. They say sing while you slave and I just get bored, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more."

Compiled by John Haydon, who owned a copy of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan."

Source:, wikipedia

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