Monday, 22 September 2008

Lyrics & their meaning Part 17- AHard Rain's A-gonna Fall

They sell by their millions, they become that special song for some people for the rest of their lives, and others are totally consumed by them; finding meanings and purpose that was never intentional. They are the Rock lyrics that accompany some of the biggest selling and best-known songs from the last three generations.

A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall (1963)

When Bob Dylan released The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan hot on the heels of the success of Peter, Paul & Mary’s huge selling version of his Blowin’ in the wind Everybody wanted a piece of Dylan, the new prophet of protest. Even though Dylan mixed his repertoire with country blues, folk as well as his so called protest songs.
Because A Hard Rains A -Gonna Fall was on an album which contained such hard hitting songs as Blowin’ In the Wind, Masters of War, Talkin’ World War III Blues and Oxford Town It was automatically considered a song full of visions of the coming atomic apocalypse

Comparisons were made that the song was a literal version of such great war paintings and sketches by the likes of Goya and Picasso. Most of these were made due to the song following hot on the heels of the Cuban missile crises and the implications if things had of turned out different.
Dylan himself is quoted as saying the imagery came so fast that “every line in it is actually the start of a whole song. I thought I wouldn’t have time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one”. So did Dylan just have a lot of good lines to make a song? It wouldn’t be the first or last time he would fill a song with this Dada kind of nonsense. When asked if it was about nuclear fallout Dylan replied, “ It’s not atomic rain, it’s not fallout rain… I mean some sort of end that’s gonna happen” And later: “ It was a song of terror. Line after line after line, trying to capture the feeling of nothingness.’ Could it be Dylan was the Jerry Seinfeld of his time?
The songs simple construction but haunting drone like melody has lent itself to many interpretations, notably by Bryan Ferry and Leon Russel. Both whom have kept the basic structure of the song but discarded large chunks of the lyrics, which is strange considering Dylan’s early work relied heavily on his lyrics due to his simple arrangements and very ordinary voice. No one really knows and Dylan would be the last person to ask. On a depressing note, this song is responsible for Canadian Poet/Singer/Songwriter Leonard Cohen to take up writing songs.

© 2004 Shidot Prod.


Morten said...

I allways thought this song was misinterperated when it was connected with the missile crisis or with atomic apocalypse.
I look on it as a writers manifest. The protagonist looks around, building his background and not being afraid to get his hands dirty. He is sympathetic towards the underdogs and in the end makes a promise to himself to sing(write) about what he sees as truthfully as he can.
The last verse makes a powerfull comitment to do that, and in hinsight I find it even more impressive that he was able to do this at such a young age.

Shawn said...

Oh, geez, here we go with the vocal criticisms again. There is nothing ordinary about Dylan's voice. You wanna hear his songs done in an ordinary way, log onto Youtube, then listen in on the "ordinary" folks out there who are doing covers of Dylan's songs. They are what you can reasonably call ordinary. Bob's vocals are one of a kind. Rough, though timeless and completely American. But from where in America? Everywhere and from any time in its history.

SunDog said...

At last! Finally!

The one blogger who truly "gets" Bob Dylan.

Nothing more needs to be said, you've said it all.

Along with the chillingly concise skewering of Leonard Cohen a twofer.

We can now shut down the internet, it's purpose fulfilled.