Some songs are forever, like the song, “The Times They Are a Changin’.”
Yesterday morning on the radio they hauled it out of mothballs and played it with the modern tunes. I wondered why with so many other melodious Bob Dylan songs they played that one.
But as I listened to raspy young Bobby wailing out the lyrics, it hit me, they were playing it for the message. It’s eternal and talks about everything happening right now.
Writing this I omit a few lines of the song, I’m sure Bob will forgive me, but if you listen carefully you can hear his message.
The song starts and that overpowering voice reaches out and captures you. He sings:
“Come gather ‘round people wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown, Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone.”
The waters of protests have grown even more than in the ‘60s. He says we better start swimming together, solving our differences or we will sink like a stone.
The next stanza is about politics today, talking to the news writers, he says:
“Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen, don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin’ and there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’, for the loser now will be later to win, For the times they are a changin”.
This one jumps out at you with the writers and critics in the election news. The “wheels were‘still in spin” as they wondered if it was President Donald Trump or President-elect Joe Biden who would win. And as the votes came in there was “no tellin’ who it was namin’.” “The loser,” Biden, who lost a some elections was “later to win” this one. It could be the loser Trump will be later to win the next election.
The next stanza could have been written yesterday.
“Come senators and congressmen, please heed the call, Don’t stand in the doorway, Don’t block up the hall, there’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’, It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, For the times they are a changn”.
This is almost literal. There is a battle outside ragin’ right now across the country with protests, white supremists, people shouting Black Lives Matter, and all the shootings. Dylan is telling us again about the battles we still face in our country.
Stanza four could be about the social changes that older people don’t understand.
“Come mothers and fathers, Throughout the land, And don’t criticize what you can’t understand, You’re old road is rapidly agin’, Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, For the times they are a-changin’.”
Times are changing, like powerful women in politics and everywhere, new marijuana laws. We’re hoping the older ones will be tolerant and still lend a hand.
The last stanza is heartfelt standing up for the underdog as he sings, “The slow one now will later be fast” and ends telling us how many thins, social, political and personal are fading away. “The order is rapidly fading.” A great song.
Good ol’ Bobby, he knew and told us a long time ago. A visionary poet touching us all with his words, seeing the future. Glad you’re still rollin’ Bob.
Dennis Gregory writes a bi-weekly column for West Hawaii Today and welcomes your comments at email@example.com