Bob Dylan As The Political Voice Of A Generation

Music has always been an integral part of American culture. Music and media have a vital role in establishing cultural identities. This is a relatively new phenomenon that can be analyzed using the lense Rock & Roll’s history. If one examines the history of Rock & Roll, it is easy to see icons like Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and other extreme emotions figures were impossible to match. While Bob Dylan is not the first name that pops up when we think of the 1960s rock stars, it’s hard to ignore his contribution towards counterculture. He is one of the greatest artists of that decade and he never missed an opportunity to voice his disapproval at being called the ‘political voices of a nation’. Bob Dylan’s ability to express emotion is unmatched by Jimi and Jimi Hendrix. The 1960s witnessed great social, technological and technological changes. The generation’s desire to change was reflected in acts of protest like the civil rights movement and second wave feminism. The United States had a difficult decade in the 1960s. This was not due to the stagnant conflict with Vietnam or the imminent threat of nuclear war against Soviet Russia. But because America was making domestic changes. Bob Dylan’s songs reflected the feelings of that decade like none other. He became the voice and symbol of an entire age in the midst one of America’s most turbulent times. Dylan composed the songs “Masters of War”, as well as “Blowin’ the Wind”, each of which were significant in their own way. Dylan also held society’s mirror up, which helped Americans inquire into the true motives of the government. This raises the question of: Was Bob Dylan truly the ‘political voice for a generation? There are several periods in Dylan’s career. We might call this the ‘protest period’. This is when Dylan released his second studio album, The Freewheelin’ Dylan. It was May 1963. This album marked Dylan’s breakthrough as an songwriter. Many songs were labeled “protest songs” because Dylan followed the trend of creating socially conscious music. Bob Dylan was a major figure in countercultural music, and very few artists from folk eras and other genres have had an as significant impact on popular cultural life. Due to social conservatism, the subject range of popular music in the past decades was restricted. People have been able to express themselves through music in both prosperous and turbulent times. You can see this strong relationship between music culture throughout history. In 1930, swing music gave audiences a place to vent their emotions. It was not as incriminating towards particular government decisions than music from the 1960s. The 1960s were the age for youth. Millions of post-World War II children became teenagers and rebelled against conservatism in the ’50s. Popular music was subject to civil rights protests, drug experiences and interracial dating. Although elements have been part of teenagers’ everyday lives throughout America, they were not well-known or widely distributed through popular music. Bob Dylan’s music helped to soundtrack the cultural and social movements in the ’60s. While Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell also made popular music that reflected the ethos of 1960s America, Dylan is the most representative of this genre. Dylan’s “protest phase” was a huge success with the American youth. Dylan’s lyrics inspired them to pay more attention to the world around them than what they are reading in newspapers and on TV. Two of Dylan’s most famous pieces, “Masters of War” and “Blowin’ In the Wind”, were featured in The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’s album. “Blowin’ on the Wind” became a popular song during civil rights. “Masters of War,” however, effectively expresses worry and fear about the United States as well as the world in general during the Cold War or Vietnam War eras. Bob Dylan’s influence in politics over American society was increased by their opinions on current events. “Blowin’ In the Wind” is a song that suggests that the public must first acknowledge the injustices and then take initiative to find the answers. Dylan’s questions are open-ended in some cases.

What number of roads must a person take to get from one place to another?

Before you refer to him as a man (…)

Yes, there are many years that some people can exist.

Before they can be free? (…)

Yes, you can turn your head a number of times.

Do you think he is blind? Dylan might be referring specifically to one of many civil rights movements (African American Native American Latin American Women’s Rights Rights Gay Rights Rights etc.) that have made a tremendous amount of effort and yet are denied basic human rights. How many seas does a white Dove need to sail?

Before she lies in the sand? Dylan uses “white doves” to refer to peace and unity. It can also symbolize life, and specifically, the two white birds that flew over Noah’s Ark to seek refuge after the flooding. There are some lyrics that cannot be interpreted.

Yes, the cannonballs must fly a minimum of three times.

They were banned before they became permanent? (…)

Yes. One man must have at least one ear.

He will have to hear people crying before he can understand them. He will be able to hear the people he loves cry.

Too many people have been killed? This is in reference to the Vietnam War. Dylan is asking “how many people must die” before America will stand up against the war that has killed innocent soldiers in an unrelated conflict. This could also be applied to other groups, such as races, genders, economic status, and beliefs. “Blowin’ in the Wind” is sung at a slow pace, which suits Dylan’s lyrics. Dylan suggests that people don’t have the ability to solve serious problems because they’re not willing to search for the truth. He believes that answers are available, and they are everywhere, around everyone. Yet, they go unnoticed.

My friend, the answer is to blow in the wind.

Answer: It’s blowin’ in to the wind. Dylan may want the world to slow down a bit to better understand what’s going on. This concept is well reflected in the song’s calm pace and the idea of “blowing in wind”. Dylan does not give any interpretations of “Blowin’ the Wind” despite his obvious connections to civil rights. Dylan stated that the song was inspired by a Broadside issue. Broadside is a magazine devoted to folk music. (…) This is just a statement that somebody said that was related to race problems in the 1960s. Dylan’s message can have broad appeal because it is not influenced by any particular affiliation. Contrast that, “Masters of War” has a far more explicit message for the American public. It is more incriminating of government corruption and sends a stronger message. Written between 1962 and 1963, the nation was stuck at a time of conflicting events. Many Americans were uneasy with the Vietnam War’s status. Dylan was only 30 years old at the time and was the first person to voice his disapproval of politicians and war-profiteers. This song was a powerful protest against the Cold War. It appealed strongly to the culture’s desire of change. Dylan also mentions the motivation behind money. I have described selfish acts and the motivations for the government.

You are the war masters!

All guns are built by you

The death planes are built by you

All the bombs were built by you

The walls are your wall.

You are hiding behind your desks

I simply want to find out

I can see through the masks of your enemies. Dylan singles the war criminals who ‘hide under desks’, while soldiers risk their lives fighting, as well as those who try and ‘deceive Americans into believing that there is a way to win the world war. Although Dylan isn’t able to identify the exact culprits, the song’s context shows that Dylan’s “they” refers to the corporate and bureaucratic establishment. Dylan is saying political leaders, hiding in their offices, send soldiers out at risk to perform dirty work and give the appearance of loyalty to their state. You have never done anything.

But don’t destroy, but build!

My world is your playground

It’s like a little toy

You gave me a gun.

You hide from me,

You run and turn again

When the bullets are flying fast. People responsible for war behave as though war is an endless game. Dylan says that this is because they treat war like a small toy. Dylan considers war a serious matter. He believes military leaders must be more mindful of the lives and safety of their soldiers. Masters of War was a cold protest song against the Cold War leaders and those who made crucial military decisions while safe in their offices. You lie, deceive

There is a way to win the global war

You want me believe

But I see your eyes!

I see through your mind. Dylan claims that the military leaders try to lie to the American people, and label the government as distrustful. Dylan’s Masters of War provoked an overwhelming emotional response among its listeners. It exposed the brutal realities of war, which caused disgust in the government. Dylan tried to educate his audience through this song by telling them that those in control of our military (“the masters”) are corrupt and motivated only by money, not protection of soldiers. You must fasten all triggers

To set the example for all others

You can then relax and watch.

The death rate rises when there are more people dying

You keep your mansion secret

The blood of young people is still very much in their veins

They let out the flow of blood

And is buried under the mud. Dylan believes that people with political power are more likely to seek war. However, Dylan says that corruption is evident in the fact the establishment sends out the poor to fight while those who have the most money can live safely and comfortably away from the frontlines. Commandos are not forced into direct engagement in conflicts, but instead “fastens the triggers to fire,” Dylan said. This is because they don’t care about the suffering and death of those they lead, as long as it is profitable for them or in some way benefits the elite. You have created the most fear

You can’t throw that.

Do not be afraid to have children

The world is your oyster

You threaten my baby

Unborn and unknown

It’s not worth your blood

This runs through your veins

Fear was a key factor in the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis. Both the United States of America and the Soviet Union feared taking decisive action. This was something people could not live with, and particularly not bring their kids into. Some might argue that I’m too young.

Some might argue that I am not a learned person.

But here’s something I do know.

Although I’m older than you

Even Jesus wouldn’t have done it.

Forgive me for all that I have done. Dylan’s lyrics reflected the sentiments of youth across the country. The lines “You might say I’m young, but you might claim I’m not learned,” were apt for the section of the population who would rise in the 1960s to join the march on Washington and at the Pentagon. Although politicians dismissed these people as being immature and idealistic they would be seen by the rest of America as young people who were motivated and willing to fight to change. Dylan provided dissidents with a voice and helped unify people through his music. The 1960s were a decade filled with political and social turmoil. Despite all the turmoil, there was some good news: Kennedy’s vision and civil rights revolution and space exploration were key to bringing about prosperity and progress. Many negative things were also happening: anti-war and student protest movements, assassinations, riots, and political assassinations all contributed to the decline in public respect for government authorities. Despite being dismissed by lawmakers as immature or idealistic, these young Americans would still show enthusiasm and be willing to fight for the change. “Masters of War,” a tone of moral outrage is used to describe government officials. Dylan says that money cannot buy forgiveness for corrupt and immoral decisions politicians and war profiteers make in order to advance their own interests at the expense of the rest of the world.

Let me ask you one question

Are you able to spend your money as well?

It will buy forgiveness

Are you positive it is possible?

I believe you’ll find it.

Your death is your final act

Your soul is not worth the money you spent.

Dylan’s reference of the soul communicates that all people are the same after death. A life of greed and unjust behavior can never be replaced by money. Dylan closes the song by delivering a clear, yet grim message. He expresses genuine hatred towards profiteers as well as warmongers.

And I wish you a happy death

And your death’ll come soon

I will go to your funeral

The pale afternoon

While you are lowered, I’ll be watching.

You can even die on your death bed

I will watch your grave.

‘Til my heart is full. Dylan’s simple ideology was the key to his success. Dylan’s middle-ground politics is evident in the lyrics of Master of War, as there are no political parties Dylan declares support. He focuses instead on the commonwealth as well the overall well being of mankind and America’s interest as a superpower amid a globalizing environment. “Masters of War”, the author argues that the public’s feeling of apathy (which was addressed in “Blowin’ In The Wind”) must be overcome. Dylan’s lyrics make it clear that people are not going to sit back and let the warlords fire the triggers blindly. The song “Masters of War” can help define the current conflicts. In response to 9/11’s attacks, the United States invaded Middle East oil rich countries under the pretense of searching for weapons. The longest American war, which began in October 2001, was in Afghanistan. The desire for American soldiers not to be involved in the conflict there is very real.

Americans don’t view the conflict as a victory for the U.S. 36% of Americans, including 40% of veterans, stated that the war was unsuccessful, while 33% (33% of veterans) claimed it has not been successful or unsuccessful.

Although many Americans consider the war in Afghanistan a failure to win, the United States is still involved. Dylan’s fame and the fact his music is still a popular theme in American society prove that America can be united, even when there are extreme tensions. Dylan’s music unites musicians, students as well politicians and civil right leaders. Dylan’s ability and talent to reach a wider audience than his peers was unmatched by any of his peers. His music became the soundtrack for the decade. He was openly honest about social issues and challenged the people of the world to see the truth. Dylan is the voice of this generation because of his ability to apply subjects from “Masters of War” or “Blowin’ the Wind” long-term. Dylan will continue being relevant in the future owing to his inability define “protest songs” without labeling him as a pioneer. He was also an extremist because of his opposition to government decisions. Dylan’s political stances do not reflect the music despite the passionate tone it emits. Dylan’s 60s music was political, but it is obvious that Dylan was more of an activist than a singer. His early commentary on political issues, such as civil right, earned him the title of protest songsmith extraordinaire and the voice for his generation. Some people believe that Dylan’s absence of affiliation is a way to downplay the genius of Dylan’s song. However, it is obvious that Dylan’s words were true to so many people.

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