Annotated Blowin In The Wind

Annoted Blowing In The Wind

On The Oppression Of Men

Here is a link to a recording.

A few years back, performing for a crowd of about 100 musicians, almost all of
whom also perform, I took them on a guided tour of Blowing In The Wind. I had just
"re-heard" it in my mind a couple weeks before and realized that Bob Dylan laid out
the structure of men's oppression as eloquently as I have ever heard it, early in
the 1960s. I want that song back in circulation, with its message clearly articulated
and discussed. So I went through it line by line, singing and speaking.

How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?
Recently I thought I'd "fix" this song so I could sing it again, by trying to
clean out the references to gender. Then I suddenly "got it." Dylan wasn't
talking about "people", he was talking about Men! So when DO we let men stop
having to "prove" over and over that they're men? When has any man ever really
proved "once and for all" that he's a "real man?"

How many seas must a white dove sail before she rests in the sand?
Overwork and over-responsibility are key issues for men. They yearn for real rest.
Sitting in front of the TV with a beer is NOT real rest. Real rest requires real
closeness and a sense of safety. For most men, safety and closeness are polar
opposites. Give 'em some space so they can at least rest a little while we work
on the closeness part.

How many times must a cannonball fly before they are forever banned?
Little boys play war not because of genetics, but because they can see ahead
of them the horrible requirement to kill or be killed. Children play to figure
things out. This is a compelling issue. We protest violence against women in
movies, but who protests war movies with their wholesale slaughter of men? Men
are as human, hurt with the same pain, and soldiers’ lives are as precious as those
of “civilian” women and children.

Sing the chorus with me...
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.
It's everywhere around us, free to be noticed at any time.

How many years must a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea?
Talk about endurance! Endless lifetimes of endurance.

How many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free?
The model of a man includes "a heart of warm stone." We confuse individual men
with the burdens and behavior patterns they have been forced to assume. And then
blame them for looking so hardened. We're so scared of their anger that we abandon
the innocent little boys trapped under that mountain of stone.

How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see?
In the sixties, I thought that man was a jerk. Now I get it, that we force each
little boy to "not see" the awful things being done to him and his brothers, to
"not feel" his own pain. How could anyone who has been forced not to notice their
own pain be able to see the pain of others?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.

How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?
It's so hard to keep hoping and trying when the beauty of living is so obscured
by the clouds of old hurts. It's a testament to their human-ness that men persist
in looking up.

How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?
The ears of every person on this planet, to listen to each man until he knows,
and we all know, what men's lives have REALLY been like! Until it's safe enough
for men to shed their unshed tears, not as one more requirement to try to please
us, but for themselves.

How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?
The men in charge of the military are men who have been through combat themselves,
with no chance to recover their deepest hearts from the terrible hurt of being
forced to kill or be killed. Since the Vietnam war, more Vietnam veteran soldiers
have died by their own hands than died in that war. We need to bring them home.
Every one of them. WE are the solution. Each of us, you and me.

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
The answer is blowing in the wind.

This was probably the scariest performance of my life to date. It was
spontaneous, passionate, accurate, unwelcome. In the beginning, I could not see
a single face that looked pleased at the prospect of singing this song again.
I now believe that we were bullied into "being bored" with such songs during the 1970s.
It stopped "being cool." I think we also attached our discouragement, disappointment,
and terror at the collapse of the great social change movements of the sixties to those
clear, passionate, powerful, hopeful songs. Especially with the specific audience that
night, every musician there carried that particular hurt. So I had to go against my own
fear of "being uncool" and annoying people. I did win the listeners over by the end.
It's never since been so hard to sing it, and I'm asked for my 'version' every now and again
when I do a concert.

(I've realized since people have started passing this on to people who don't know me,
that it's important to state that I'm female. I'm not completely certain of why it's
important, but I'm sure it is. Thanks for listening. And thinking about this stuff.)

Thank you!!!!