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Blowin' In The Wind by Bob Dylan

Album: The Freewheelin' Bob DylanReleased: 1963
  • Dylan claims that he wrote this song in about 10 minutes one afternoon. He put words to the melody of an old slave song called "No More Auction Block," which he might have learned from Carter family records. In the evening, Dylan took the song to the nightclub Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village, where he was due to play a set. Before playing it, he announced, "This here ain't no protest song or anything like that, 'cause I don't write no protest songs." During this first performance, Dylan couldn't read some of his own handwriting and made up some of the lyrics as he went along.
  • The Dylan version of this song was never a hit - it was a cover by Peter, Paul & Mary that made #2 in the US in February, 1963, introducing many people to the music of Bob Dylan, who was an obscure folk singer at the time.
  • Dylan gained National exposure when he performed this song with Peter, Paul & Mary at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. Magazines like Time, Playboy, and The New Yorker ran stories on Dylan after the performance.
  • Dylan wrote this in 1962, but did not release it until his second album a year later. It was common for Dylan to play songs for a while before he recorded them, which gave him control over when they could be covered. Once a song is recorded, anyone can cover it if they pay the mechanical licensing fees.
  • A November, 1963 Newsweek article fueled rumors that Dylan stole this song from a New Jersey high school student. In 1962, Dylan let a folk magazine called Sing Out! publish the lyrics. The student, Lorre Wyatt from Millburn, New Jersey, got the magazine and played it for the band he was in, claiming he wrote it. They performed it for their school a few months before Dylan released the song, which led everyone in the school to believe Dylan had stolen the song from Wyatt.

    The rumor became a bigger kerfuffle thanks to some circumstantial evidence linking Dylan to the student:

    1) Dylan visited an ailing Woody Guthrie at Greystone Hospital in New Jersey at the same time that Wyatt was a volunteer there, known for singing songs to the patients.
    2) Dylan and Wyatt were both known to hang out in Greenwich Village around 1962.
    3) Dylan didn't publish the song until July 30, 1962, which was three weeks after he recorded it. This was unusual in that musicians like to publish their works first to keep them from getting stolen, and it set up a scenario where Dylan heard the song, recorded it, found out it wasn't published and then published it himself. The truth was that Dylan didn't always tend to the legal details at a time when he was cranking out song after song.
    4) When Mike Royko of the Chicago Daily News contacted Wyatt in 1974 and asked if he wrote the song, Wyatt didn't deny it and refused comment, which supported his claim that he had sold the song for $1,000 and was forbidden from talking about it as part of the terms. Later that year, Wyatt came clean, but in the New Times, which had a much smaller circulation than the Chicago Daily News. Wyatt explained how things got out of control, as by trying to downplay his role in the song, it fueled the rumors and led his classmates and teachers to believe they had the inside scoop. Said Wyatt: "I'd begun to make Pinocchio look like he had a pug nose." For a fictional portrayal of a similar story, check out the movie The Squid And The Whale, where a high school student passes off "Hey You" as his own.
  • This song was a major influence on Sam Cooke and prompted a change in his music. Cooke felt this could easily have been about racial injustice and thought it had special relevance to the black community. He performed a soulful version on the ABC show Shindig and released a live version on his album Sam Cooke At The Copa. In December, 1964, just as Cooke began writing more political music, he was shot and killed by a motel manager who claimed she acted in self-defense. Released shortly after his death, Cooke's song "A Change Is Gonna Come" may be the best example of Dylan's influence on him.
  • Stevie Wonder became the first black artist to take a Dylan song into the US Top 10 when his version of "Blowin' In The Wind" went to #9 in 1966.
  • Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary said in the Radio Times, October 13-19, 2007: "His (Bob Dylan's) writing put Peter, Paul and Mary on another level. We heard his demos and Albert (Grossman, both Dylan and the trio's manager) thought the big song was Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, but we went crazy over Blowin' In The Wind. We instinctively knew the song carried the moment of its own time. He was rising so fast over anybody else, in the level of poetry and expression, to a shatteringly brilliant level."
  • This may be the most covered of Bob Dylan's songs. Some of the many artists who performed it include Dolly Parton, Nickel Creek and Neil Young. When The Staple Singers recorded it, they became the first black group to cover a Bob Dylan song.
  • Bob Dylan performed this in the BBC play Madhouse On Castle Street, which aired January 13, 1963. Dylan performed songs throughout the play, closing with "Blowin' In The Wind." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
  • Peter, Paul & Mary performed this song at the March on Washington, which took place August 28, 1963. This was a seminal event in American history, epitomized by Martin Luther King Jr's famous "I Have A Dream" speech. Mary Travers described having an epiphany during the performance. "Looking out at those 250,000 people, I truly believed at that moment it was possible for human beings to join together to make a positive social change," she said.

    Bob Dylan also performed at the event, appearing with Joan Baez before Peter, Paul & Mary went on.
  • This was used in the UK by the British consumer-owned Cooperative Group in a series of adverts. It was the first time one of Dylan's songs has been used in a UK advert, though his music has previously been used to advertise iTunes and Victoria's Secret lingerie in America. Some of Dylan's fans claimed the singer was selling out, but his record company argued that the Co-op's adherence to high ethical guidelines regarding fair trade and the environment influenced his decision.
  • This song is played in the movie Forrest Gump by the character Jenny. She's in a strip club, performing as "Bobbi Dylan." She's sitting on a stool naked playing guitar and singing, and when the drunk men start to get fresh Forrest tries to save her. (thanks, Natasha - Chico, CA)
  • The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan made a huge impact on The Beatles. "We just played it, just wore it out," said George Harrison. "The content of the song lyrics and just the attitude – it was incredibly original and wonderful."
  • The song prompted a homily by Pope John Paul II. Playing for the Pontiff at the World Eucharistic Congress in Bologna in 1997, Dylan was greeted by him with the reflection: "You say the answer is blowing in the wind, my friend. So it is: but it is not the wind that blows things away. It is the wind that is the breath and life of the Holy Spirit, the voice that calls and says, 'Come!'"

    The Pope even answered a question Dylan posed in the song: "You've asked me: 'How many roads must a man walk down before he becomes a man?' I answer you: One. There is only one road for man and it is Christ, who said 'I am the life.'"
  • Dylan took some heat for appropriating lines from old poems on some of his tracks from his 2006 Modern Times album, including they lyrics "Where wisdom grows up in strife" from his song "When the Deal Goes Down," which borrows from a passage from a mid-1800's poem by Henry Timrod, who wrote, "There is a wisdom that grows in strife."

    These accusations resurfaced in Dylan's 2012 Rolling Stone interview, where he invoked "Blowin' In The Wind" as evidence that he has dealt with these questions for quite a while. Said Dylan, "Newsweek magazine lit the fuse way back when. Newsweek printed that some kid from New Jersey wrote 'Blowin' In The Wind' and it wasn't me at all. And when that didn't fly, people accused me of stealing the melody from a 16th century Protestant hymn. And when that didn't work, they said they made a mistake and it was really an old Negro spiritual. So what's so different? It's gone on for so long I might not be able to live without it now. F--k em. I'll see them all in their graves."
  • This song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
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Comments: 51

On August 20th 1966, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, and the Temptations performed at the Forest Hills Music Festival in Queens, New York; attendance was 14,000 concert goers...
At the time of the concert Stevie Wonder's "Blowin' in the Wind" was at #11 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; eight days later on August 28th it would peak at #9 {for 1 week}...
The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" was at #28, and on September 4th it would reach #1 {for 2 weeks}...
The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" was sitting at #42, five weeks earlier it had peaked at #13 {for 1 week} on the Top 100, but on the R&B Singles chart it had reached #1 for 8 non-consecutive weeks...
And the Temps next release, "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep", had just entered the Top 100 chart at #80; eventually it would peak at #3 on the Top 100 and at #1 {for 5 weeks} on the R&B Singles chart.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On July 17th 1966, "Blowin' In The Wind" by Stevie Wonder entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #68; and on August 28th, 1966 it peaked at #9 (for 1 week) and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
And on August 21st, 1966 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart (it was his 2nd R&B #1 record of 1966, "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" remained at #1 for 5 weeks)....
On the Top 100, his next release, "A Place In The Sun", would also peak at #9 and stay on the chart for 11 weeks...
Mr. Wonder, born Stevland Hardaway Judkins, celebrated his 64th birthday two months ago on May 13th, 2014.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On June 23rd 1963, "Blowin' in the Wind" by Peter, Paul, and Mary entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #86; and on August 11th it peaked at #2 (for 1 week) and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
And on May 5th it reached #1 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
The week it was at #2, the #1 record was "Fingertips (Part 2)" by Little Stevie Wonder...
The song was the trio's 2nd straight release that peaked at #2, "Puff, the Magic Dragon" reached the runner-up spot on May 5th, 1963...
R.I.P. Mary Travers (1936 - 2009).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Interesting facts.Lane - Lansing, Ia
"The ants are my friends..."Johnny - Pomona, Ca
This is the kind of songs that you feel wasn't written by man, but was always known by humans even before it was written...as if it was just carried on from Adam and Eve to the following generations.Matt - Galway, Ireland
hey charlie from, Thomaston, CT, Dylan and Morrison were 2 very diffrent poets who wrote about very diffrent things. one is not better than the other! not even.Nick - Seattle, Albania
To the folks who make comments like, "he can't carry a tune" or "he can't sing", you are simply wrong. The measure of a singer's ability to "carry a tune" involves their correctly hitting each note and maintaining the tempo of the song. Everything else they do is what defines their particular style. If you don't like it, don't listen. The only thing the people who go out their way to post "They Suck" comments do is make themselves look like an idiots.Dj - Hope, Nj
this song poses philosophical questions about what it means to be free and what it takesJackie - Jersey, Az
Can't believe the amount of people on here insulting Bob's singing or his songwriting.

The singing, as shown by the X Factor/American Idol/Girls Aloud any fat idiot from a supermarket can hit the right notes, but it takes a genius to communicate. Bob is one of the best communicators, his voice isn't the best, but when you hear it, you hear the emotion, and you are influenced. Bob showed you don't need a conventional voice to sing rock and roll, Hendrix never considered himself a possible singer until he heard Bob.
And as for insulting his songwriting, go back to listening to some simpletons, Blink 182 I suggest?
Chris - Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
cliff richard did a pretty good version of this song on his album "kinda latin" in the mid-sixtiesMark - Dublin, Ireland
This song was brilliant and relevant in 1963, is brilliant and relevant today, and will be just as brilliant and just as relevant 1000 years from now.Jay - Brooklyn, Ny
I'd have to agree that Dylan's voice is lacking in the nasal and is more growly-old-manish these days (saw a concert last year), but this is a beautiful song, I dont care how long it took him to write:)Nady - Adelaide, Australia
The words are unimaginative - it sounds like he wrote them in 10 minutes. And that voice is scratchy and annoying. I'm amazed that artists such as Tom Petty and Bob Dylan made it as far as they did, given their inability to carry a tune in a bucket. In recent years, Dylan's appears lack of vocal abilities seems to be accentuated by his old age.Mike - Nyc, Ny
bob dylan didn't have a bad voice it was just differnt than the rock of the time.Hunter - Cincinnati, Oh
Sesamee Street used this tune a couple times, mainly to learn how to count and learn numbers.Henry - Baltimore, Md
Bob Dylan can't sing for toffee.Giveusakiss - Geelong, Australia
Sam Cooke's version is very well done...i usually dislike covers but i think if there was a recording of them doing this song together,wow.Nathan - From The Country Of, Canada
What is the meaning of life?-To hear Bob Dylan
Why are we here?^^^
Is there a God?-Yes...Bob Dylan-Good Answer
What are we doing here? Not too much, I gotta admit
Will there ever be peace? With the lack of hippies I'm gonna have to say no
Are we alone in this universe? Well does E.T. count?
What's right? Bob Dylan
What's wrong? Bob....Phylan
What is eternity?Bob Dylan's music ?:D-Good Answer

Those are my answers...
Josh - Toronto
Another super rendition of this song is done superbly by Neil Young and CrazyHorse off the WELD Album. Lots of emotion pours out of his voice. Super Song!!Alan - Milwaukee, Wi
this song is genius, dylan wants us to want to know what this song means, but it seems so wierd and obscure when the real meaning of the song is BLOWING IN THE WIND, while all the answers to our problems are just blowing in the wind, we are just to dumb to realize itJohn - Jupiter, Fl
this is the best song in history by the best singer songwriter in history! amazing stuffDavid - Merseyside, England
The song's version in the Forrest Gump movie was a cover by Joan Baez (who was also romantically involved with Bob Dylan for some time).Ankur - Delhi, India
I've never heard Stevie Wonder's version, but I have heard the original Peter Paul and Mary's version, both of which are great.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
i like bob dylans voice. its perfect. bob dylan is godAngie - The Sky, United States
i wish i could have seen bob dylan and peter paul and mary all on ticketKyle - King George, Va
When "We Are The World, USA for Africa" was at it's most popular me and a friend in my high school typing class used to alternate, singing all the parts in a close approximation of each artist's voice including Dylan. I think the song was many young people's first exposure to Dylan back in the early 1980s. Of course, we were all mocking him. I remember my language arts teacher giving us a little lecture about Dylan's influence. Made me think. Personally, I first heard Dylan in the 70s with Knocking on Heaven's Door and Lay Lady Lay. This song is sung in several episodes of the TV show Gomer Pyle.James - Vidalia, Ga
I think of the Vietnam War every time I hear this song even though he wrote it before the war started.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Indeed, my sence of humor was peaking in the last post.

But, I could not leave this song without saying that I believe that the wind Dylan speaks of is, of course, time.

In time, all answers shall be given to us, as human beeings, and as Humanity.
Alpheous - Gaia, Portugal
What is the meaning of life?Why are we here? Is there a God? What are we doing here? Will there ever be peace? Are we alone in this universe? What's right? What's wrong? What is eternity?

Natacha!I have the answrs to those questions!
"What is the meaning of life?"R: life(noum), period of activity of plants and animals,existence,movement, heat,animation,origin.

"Why are we here?"R:To find facts of songs we like, that's what we can find in www.songfacts.com!!!

"Is there a God?"R: No, here there is no God. Maybe if you look on the other side..."

"What are we doing here?"R: I believe I have already answered that. Please see the response to "Why are we here?".

"Will there ever be peace?"R:Actually, it's very peaceful over here, in my office. So, yes, there is peace here!

"Are we alone in the universe?"R: I,ve seen some people outsime of this site, including my parents and friends, and much more people...so, we are not alone here :), fortunatly.

"What's right?" R: right is something that you are intitled of. It's something or some action that you can take or have in a legitim(is it well written?) way.

"What is wrong?"R: Wrong is the opposite to accurate, correct.

"What is eternity?"R: Eternity, for men. Kelvin Clein. Is a perfume. Smells very good too. I believe it's also available for women.


There you go. Stop looking in the wing, or you'll get sick!
Alpheous - Gaia, Portugal
This was the song that put folk-rock on the map. I also enjoyed Peter,Paul and Mary's version. Also memorable was Stevie Wonder's gospel-like rendition.Howard - St. Louis Park, Mn
Probably the most important song of the generation because it opened up the eyes of the youth of america and really showed them things might not be going as good as they thoughtKyle - Eglewood, Co
i agree with those who like Dylan's voice...it is PERFECT for the kind of music he does which is folk/blues based rock. a "prettier" voice does not work for the blues in my opinion because the blues is supposed to sound rough, gruff, earthy...well, pretty much like Bob Dylan sounds!Jerrybear - Flint, Mi
Yes his voice goes perfectly with his music. He has an honesty to him. It's very refreshing.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Bob Dylan has unique voice. For me he stood out becuase of his voise and ofcourse unmatchable lyrics. It's part of what of he brings. Without his voice, for me, he'd lose his story telling ability. Growing up, I always used to critize his voice whenever my dad played him in the car. But I've learnt to accept his voice which is perfect for his music. It's just perfect. Clear, refreshing and can effortlessly grip the listener. It has an unexplainalbe appealShmyla - Lahore, Pakistan
This is #14 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.Ross - Independence, Mo
Brilliant song, of course. But listen to the version on his "Live from Budokan" CD. About 12 years after the original, he takes a different approach which is more heartfelt and moving than the original.Jerry - Brooklyn, Ny
In the strip club scene of Forrest Gump, Jenny is wearing a thong... dont question me on Forrest Gump, i know everything.Steve - Troy, Ny
Bob Dylan's voice may irritate some, but I find it rather pleasant. There is no denying that he is a poet, the lyrics and the song itself are what matters, not how good of a voice the singer has. Look at some other musical geniuses whose voices may irritate some:

Ray Davies
Pete Townshend
Roy Wood
Frank Zappa
Lou Reed

Like I said before, it's all about the song itself, not the "quality" of the voice, as that is totally subjective to the listener.
Matthew - Palos Park, Il
Bob is by far the poet of the times, his works will be remembered forever, children will learn of him 100's of years from now as we learned of the sophicles and aristotle. His voice is a unique voice you either like it or you dont. Also as natasha said dylan didnt focus on the voice he was all about the lyrics. Altough dylan doesnt like to admit it he led the 60's revolution with songs of corruption in the gov't and justice system. Like i said the poet of our time. Just for a tip i dont like to admit it but bobby went down hill in his music style, i reccomend only up to blonde on blonde or blood on the tracks, highway 61 revised is also a good album but his early works were masterpiecesClapton - San Fran , Ca
another rant about the singing comment! To reinforce what two said before me, I'll say it again. IN CAPS!! BOB DYLAN HAD A GREAT SINGING VOICE!!Sol - Dallas, Tx
dylan was a great poet, certainly better than jim morrison!Charlie - Thomaston, Ct
The answer to every unanswerable question is blowin' in the wind. What is the meaning of life?Why are we here? Is there a God? What are we doing here? Will there ever be peace? Are we alone in this universe? What's right? What's wrong? What is eternity?..........Natasha - Chico, Ca
What?!Are you saying Bob Dylan can't sing?:-0 First of all, his voice is very unique and soothing, and second of all, his music isn't all about the voice, it's about the lyrics, the messages portrayed. He's so incredibly talented! Love ya BOB!Natasha - Chico, Ca
Allen Ginsberg once said Dylan is the best poet of the 20th Century.Kieran - Harlow, United States
"it's just such a shame he couldn't sing very well."
i disagree, while dylan may not have had the prettiest of voices he definently had one of the most unique in the music business and i for one love it.
Mason - San Antonio, Tx
This was covered by "Green Acres" star Eddie Albert, and is included on the first "Golden Throats" compilation of horrible recordings of hits by actors/celebrities. Albert's version is a gleeful romp that sounds as if it was arranged by Frank DeVol (Brady Bunch theme).John - Seattle, Wa
if you listen to the song and think about it, it could be an anti-war song. Indeed, the war in vietnam didn't really start raging until the later 60's, but at the time he wrote it, American troops where over there. Uh, weren't they? I'm pretty sure they were.Sol - Dallas, Tx
This is such a beutiful song. I jst love Bob Dylan he wrote such fantastic lyrics it's just such a shame he couldn't sing very well.Anonymous
I think of my good friend Phil Johnson when I hear this song, this was one Phil's favorite Dylan songs.

Philip S. Johnson 03/26/55 ~ 01/12/03
Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington
In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a novel by Douglas Adams, a race of Hyperdimensioanl beings find out that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42. They made the Earth to find out the actual question. Sadly, the Earth was destroyed to make way for a highway. So they made up a question for the answer". What was it? "How many roads must a man walk down?"Hac Barton - Las Vegas, Nv