The 60s, an era desiring peace. It was an era that made reforms and shaped counterculture. During the 1960s-70s the youth of America discovered they had a voice. Not only did they realize that they could stand up for what they believed in, but they discovered that they were actually making a difference. This was in part credit to many inspirational leaders such as the musician Janis Joplin, preaching songs of rebellion. The most influential songwriter of this decade, however, is Bob Dylan. Writing within the musical genre of folk, his poetic lyrics transcended the generic, and happy tunes of bands such as the Beach Boys. One song, in particular, is said to be the “Anthem” of the 60s era, but as it is commonly said, “History Repeats Itself.” In terms of today, perhaps it could be our anthem too.
The Anthem, created by the great Bob Dylan is called: “ The Times They Are A-Changin.’” The song is short and sweet, but it shows how words can be immensely powerful. Breaking down the lyrics, the songs begins by stating the “melting pot” that is the United States,”Come gather ’round people, wherever you roam…” Revealing the defining factor that makes America, we are “United.” Dylan then goes on to challenge the minds of all who listen, by encouraging the audience to realize and admit to themselves that the issues around them have grown, and that they will not go away on their own. Completing the stanza Dylan forms the Chorus that would be remembered throughout generations, “For the times they are a-changin’.”
The next verse calls out to a specific audience, the critics. Addressing their craft and encouraging them to apprehend the overwhelming truths around them, and to undertake the power of their craft and utilize it for good. Another audience Dylan reaches out to is the American Government. Cautioning them to listen, and showing them the war that is right outside their doors. This is a lyric that emphasizes the core of this “anthem,” declaring that those protesting will not stand down. The last audience that Dylan approached was those who are of the older generations. Asserting the notion that they should not criticize. He says, “…What you can’t understand, in particular, your sons and your daughters, are beyond your command, your old road is rapidly agin’. Please get out of the new one, If you can’t lend your hand.’’ His lyrics are pleading with these audiences to truly become united – to come together to solve the issues that affect everyone.
The definition of an anthem is this: a song, as of praise, devotion, or patriotism. Bob Dylan accomplished an effective anthem that has remained a strong continuity through the ages. Dylan spoke for those who could not find the words. Those who are told they are too young to understand. And those who know they can make a difference. So let this be your anthem. Let it play, listen to the lyrics, and tune into your soul. You can make a change. You have a voice.