Exhuming Bob VII: Blowin’ In The Wind

March 26, 2008

Exhuming Bob VII:  Blowin’ In The Wind


R.E. Prindle

     It is commonly believed that Bob’s protest catalogue of the early sixties is related to the Civil Rights Movement.  It is further believed that Bob changed his direction or emphasis beginning with Another Side.  I’m going to suggest that there is only one side of Bob and that that is continous from 1961 through 1966 after which a discontinuity did occur.

     I recently viewed a video of Bob performing with Joan Baez.  The video was undated and did not identify the performance but was of the period when Bob wore the napkin on his head.  The video is a performance of Blowin’ In The Wind at the beginning of which Bob dedicates the song to Hibbing, Minnesota.  He couldn’t or wouldn’t have done that unless the song applied.  It follows then that Blowin’ In The Wind has nothing to do with the Civil Rights Movement but to Bob himself.  I never understood at the time how people could relate the song to Negroes but they did.

     The character may have been projected on it by the expectations  of the time perhaps even taking Bob by surprise.  Then perhaps encouraged by Suze Rotolo he was able to convert his resentments against Hibbing and U. Minnesota into Civil Rights ‘anthems.’ 

     Even such songs as Masters Of War and Only A Pawn In The Game can be converted into reflections of Hibbing.  The masters of war would be enemies in Hibbing while his being arrested and sent to Red Wing would make him only a pawn in their game.

     Even James Meredith at U. Mississippi can be converted to the experience of Bobby Zimmerman attempting to morph into Bob Dylan at U. Minnesota.

     In an exchange on Lipstick Traces IX correspondent RM and I have worked out an interlocking set of songs relating to Echo Helstrom’s betrayal of Bob and the subsequent term spent at Red Wing Reformatory.  I will try to write this up soon.

     While Bob first puts his complaints in song from 1961-66 he merely shifted the emphasis from John Wesley Harding on when he added his current complaints to his repertoir.

     In any event it is now possible to interpret his catalogue from 1961-66 as one unit addressing one set of problems.  Of course William Zanzinger does pose a problem but one may be able to find his counterpart in Hibbing if one can find the necessary information.

     If Bob ever gets around to Vols. II and III of his autobiography I rather imagine he isn’t going to go into much detail on this matter.  We would rather find the answer on the pages of his autobiography than blowin’ in the wind.

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