Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement and songwriter Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan chucking a brick
Originally uploaded by <<graham>>
The Civil Rights Movement galvanized young Americans in the early 1960's, regardless of ethnicity. Among those helping raise America's consciousness was songwriter Bob Dylan.

In his song, "Blowin in the Wind," he sang -

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

In the song he addresses racism as well as war. In the 1963 Civil Rights protest in Wash, DC, Dylan was invited to perform for the audience of some 250,000.

Dylan was also featured in the largest of all the Vietnam anti-war protest demonstrations, the March on Washington in 1969. Some 250,000 gathered.

Dylan, who took his stage name from the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, addressed racism and war in a poetic and philosophcal way in "Blowin in the wind," and touched the world.

Soldiers in Vietnam, the media, the Beatles: they all listened to Dylan's simple but inspired tunes.

Dylan's voice was not appealing, which was a big deal in the pop-minded mid-1960's. Soon people realized his voice didn't matter.

Among his most-famous tunes:
"The times they are a-changin"
"Mr Tambourine Man"
"Like a rolling stone"

Dylan was influenced by folksingers such as Leadbelly.
Born as Huddie Ledbetter and raised around Mooringsport,
Leadbelly's most famous song was "Goodnight, Irene."
After spending decades in prison for felonious assault, Leadbelly was discovered in Angola State Prison by folklorist Alan Lomax.

Lomax took Leadbelly to NYC in 1935 and he found the spotlight of the media. Playing folk clubs, college campuses and at political rallies, Leadbelly found a new home on the Lower East Side of Gotham. He influenced both black and white folk singers.

Dylan, born in 1941, is still recording, writing and giving concerts. He is considered one of the most influential men of the 20th century.

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