Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues

Album: Bootleg Series (1991)

Songfacts®:

  • Dylan wrote this about the John Birch Society, an ultraconservative political organization formed in 1958 to fight Communist threats in the US. This is a parody of the organization, which Dylan thought was a threat to free speech because they accused anyone they didn't like of being a communist.
  • In the '50s and '60s, many famous musicians, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Doors and The Rolling Stones, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Dylan never did, and this is the song that kept him off. On May 12, 1963, he was scheduled to appear on the show, but refused to go on when they would not let him perform this.
  • Advance copies of the album Freewheelin' Bob Dylan included this song, but it was removed prior to the official release. It did not officially appear on an album until Bootleg Series in 1991. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brad Wind - Miami, FL

Comments: 10

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyHere's some obscure trivia; other musical guests on the CBS-TV network variety program 'The Ed Sullivan Show' on May 12th, 1963 were Brenda Lee, Guela Gill, and Al Hirt...
    And to Ed Sullivan's credit, he had no problem with Dylan performing the song, it was the CBS brass, who upon hearing Dylan rehearsing it, who said no.
  • Mike from Louisville, Ky"the john birch society is the neo cons that love power and love to abuse power."

    The following comment tries to link Neoconservatives with the John Birch Society. Anyone who knows anything about the American conservativism knows this is simply NOT true. The John Birch Society is a group of radical Paleoconservatives. Neoconservativism arose out of the writings of ex liberal, mostly Jewish intellectuals in the 1960s, and has consistently been opposed by Paleoconservatives.

    Back to the song, it is just plan funny.
  • Jonathan from Armorel, Ar"People who are truly to the left support free speech in all forms."

    Trust me, I was once a newspaperman--the most leftist profession perhaps known to man--and I know this isn't so. I was unceremoniously forced to leave the college paper over a scandal--which, long story short, boils down to me and my archconservative views ruffling too many feathers. If they don't like what you say, write, or draw, or if you dare to criticise the Great and Mighty Party, liberals label it "racist", "sexist" and "hate speech", brand you "crazy", "neocon", or "dangerous", and seek to silence you. I've written and spoken of my journalism experience many times: the bitter rivalries, the power grabs, the rumormongering and backbiting. I set one story at a junior high school rag because I felt it best exemplified the childish atmosphere of it all, by people who are ostensibly educated mature adults. Incidentally, do you know what A.C.L.U stands for? All Criminals Love Us.... ;)
  • Rick from Tuscola, United Statesfantastic dylan. he always sang the truth. if people didn't like he didn't care. the john birch society is the neo cons that love power and love to abuse power.
  • Petter from Ã?ngelholm, Swedenhow ironic that a song which criticizes a anti-democratic organization (which was against free speech) was buried by censorship for almost 30 years...
  • Chad from Reading, PaThis isn't even a protest song. In the true definition of one Dylan never did write one. This is just making fun of the society. Hes not trying to say its bad or wrong. In none of his songs doesn he want to change something he just is providing his view on certain subjects (Listen to Master's of War a bit closer next time). And don't mention the ACLU again. They accuse someone of hate speech and then give them a lawyer they hired to direct there case. And if they lost they'd accuse the jury of racism...
  • John Dylan from Blah, MsPeople who are truley to the left support free speach in all forms. The ACLU even provides lawyers to Klan memders accused of hate speach.
  • Wes from Springfield, Va"...which Dylan thought was a threat to free speech because they accused anyone they didn't like of being a communist." So nowadays we have left-wingers attempting to use PC speech codes to shut down people they claim are using "hate speech."
  • Craig from Madison, WiGood job Songfacts with the choice of having a piece on this Dylan obscurity. It's a great protest song, and it reminds or teaches people that early on Dylan was a pretty funny guy.
  • Blind Boy Grunt from Anywhere, LaThe Bootleg Series Vol. 6 Live 1964 contains a kick ass version of this song. The entire album is amazing. If you like Dylan, you'll really dig this album.
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