Thursday, April 21, 2011

Don't Criticise What You Can't Understand: Dylan

Latest News: October 2016

Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel prize in literature, Announcing the award on Thursday 13th October, Dylan had: "created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." He is the first songwriter to win the accolade and the first American to win since Toni Morrison in 1993.


This posting on 21 Aprill 2011

Bob Dylan was in Singapore recently. A truly great 60s artiste with an independent mind, some of his songs are interesting reads. So looking from a different perspective and unless you are familiar with this particular song, please READ the extract of, The Times They Are A Changin' (January, 1964, Columbia Records) below. Apologies to Bob Dylan. Bracketed remarks are mine:

Bob Dylan:
"Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
(Orchard Road floods?)

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And 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'
(New roulette wheel at Casino?)

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
There's a (contest) outside ragin'
It'll soon (clear) your windows
And (strengthen) your walls
For the times they are a-changin'
(Perhaps a tsunami?)

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agein'
For the times they are a-changin'
(Seniors Realisation Week?)

The line it is drawn
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
For the times they are a-changin'..."
(Formula One Night Race?)

Just wondering. If there's a need for change, is it for the better? That's important.

Image: Google


Anonymous said...

email from Roger Poh:

How apt!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I thought you would have much more to say. I think this platform's stable, never taking sides.

Bob Dylan, so much to say and still king of the roost. Some people are just born great.

Anonymous said...

Change for the better or worse? The fundermentals that work must remain.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks for comments and visits. Don't know what you mean by fundermentals.

Perhaps the solid and deeply grounded infra-structure.

Dylan's lyrics came at a time when the US was in Vietnam and there was turmoil and bloodshed.

We now live in a different environment.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is the one by Bob Dylan. Your caption is creative.


Sent from my iPhone

Lam Chun See said...

Bob Dylan a bit before my time. Other than Blowin In the Wind, and Mr Tambourine Man (??) plus a couple of others, I don't know much about his songs.

Lyrics-wise, I think Don Maclean writes beautiful lyrics.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

To many people Bob Dylan is one of the best singer songwriter in pop history but there are some who cannot apporeciate his singing style.

The songs 'Blowin In The Wind' and 'Mr Tambourine Man' are hits in the 60s but it is certainly true many are not aware that he sings them too.

If I am not mistaken, the cover versions, covered by hundreds of artistes, are more popular.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Ah, Don McLean... but don't you think his themes are different? Deaths of the famous, maybe, could be one?

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

The "captive creation" James mentioned is actually a line from this particular song.

Anonymous said...

Of course there's a need for change. Obama is an example.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Anon,
Change for the better yes, but change for the worse?

Not too sure about that. More protest songs coming up soon.

Anonymous said...

Did any Singaporean artists of the 60s and 70s cover Dylan songs at the time? Either in English or any other language? I'm collecting covers of Dylan in languages other than English, and Asian-language ones are hard to find.
Love your blog. What a lively & attractive scene you had back then, & very well detailed by your good self.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi anon,

To specifically target particular groups or singers who play or sing Dylan can be daunting, so do give me a bit of time as it may take a while.

Thanks for visiting and the lovely pat on the back.

Anonymous said...

Reply From Vernon Cornelius:

Hi Andy,

I don't think anyone here covered Dylan in 60s & 70s. I know bands like 'The Quests' (1966-67) performed Don't think twice it's alright, recorded, All my Sorrows (traditional by BD as All My Trials), myself from 1969, singing All Along The Watchtower, Lay Lady Lay (and much more!).

In the 70s 'Fried Ice', 'Pests Infested', 'Straydogs', 'Heritage', 'Mogan' etc. performed BD, but I'm quite sure 'none' ever recorded such material. 1989 I recorded Mr Bojangles but not a BD song. In Chinese (Mandarin) there is great probability only the simple, Blowing in the Wind was recorded. Maybe too by Foo Soo Yin. The structure of Dylan English and music craft would've made it impossible to cover such songs, unless lyrics were changed to flow better.

I became heavily BD from '69 and played him heavily on Rediffusion 69-75, and from '89 with my band 'Overheads' performed numerous BD songs. After my Rediffusion stint I became a musicologist, and in 1972/73 gave lengthy serious talks at National Library on the History & Development of modern pop music.

Regret I didn't give you much, but this confirms much of what you already know. Sending you warmest wishes,

(The entire Q/A has been posted on 15th July, 2011.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Andy & Vernon,
That pretty much confirms what I've (not) found. That's an interesting comment about "Dylan English" and music craft - I'm not sure what's meant by the latter, but certainly Dylan translations in some European languages are not at all literal & in some cases are comprehensively rewritten.
Is it possible there was also a political sensitivity to some Dylan songs?
Just in case you're interested, Vernon, there's a kickass version of My Back Pages by the Magokoro Brothers from Japan which really shows how to cram the lyrics into the line.
Thanks, guys.
John from Australia.

chakap chakap said...

This post has been rejuvenated because of Dylan's award.

Many non pop music lovers and non English Literature readers are not aware that BOB DYLAN and DYLAN THOMAS are two different people living in different times.

BOB DYLAN, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American songwriter, singer, artist, and writer. He has been influential in popular music and culture for more than five decades.

Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960's when his songs chronicled social unrest, although Dylan repudiated suggestions from journalists that he was a spokesman for his generation. Nevertheless, early songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" became anthems for the American civil rights and anti-war movements.

DYLAN MARLAIS THOMAS, (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems "Do not go gentle into that good night" and "And death shall have no dominion"; the 'play for voices' Under Milk Wood; and stories and radio broadcasts such as A Child's Christmas in Wales and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog.

He became widely popular in his lifetime and remained so after his premature death at the age of 39 in New York City. By then, he had acquired a reputation, which he had encouraged, as a "roistering, drunken and doomed poet"

(Both extracts from Wiki)

chakap chakap said...


Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.

Being noticed can be a burden. Jesus got himself crucified because he got himself noticed. So I disappear a lot.