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Music / The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

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How many ears must one person have before he can appreciate this classic? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is the second studio album by Bob Dylan, released in 1963. It was the first Dylan album where his own material exceeded his covers. It is best remembered for the hits "Blowin' in the Wind", "Masters of War", "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall", "Girl from the North Country" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right". It's equally famous for its iconic cover photo of Dylan and his then-girlfriend walking down a New York City street.

"Rocks and Gravel", "Let Me Die In My Footsteps", "Gamblin' Willie's Dead Man's Hand" and "Talkin' John Birch Blues" were originally supposed to appear on the album, but against Dylan's wishes, they were replaced at the last minute with "Girl from the North Country", "Masters of War", "Talkin' World War III Blues" and "Bob Dylan's Dream".

In 2002, the album was among the first sound recordings to be included in the National Recording Registry for its "historical, cultural and aesthetical importance".


Side One

  1. "Blowin' in the Wind" (2:48)
  2. "Girl from the North Country" (3:22)
  3. "Masters of War" (4:34)
  4. "Down the Highway" (3:27)
  5. "Bob Dylan's Blues" (2:23)
  6. "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" (6:55)

Side Two

  1. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (3:40)
  2. "Bob Dylan's Dream" (5:03)
  3. "Oxford Town" (1:50)
  4. "Talkin' World War III Blues" (6:28)
  5. "Corrina, Corrina" (2:44)
  6. "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" (2:01)
  7. "I Shall Be Free" (4:49)

This album offers freewheelin' examples of:

  • Adam and Eve Plot and All Women Are Lustful: "Talkin' World War III Blues"
    Well, I spied me a girl and before she could leave
    "Let's go and play Adam and Eve"
    I took her by the hand and my heart it was thumpin'
    When she said, "Hey man, you crazy or sumpin'
    You see what happened last time they started".
  • Alliterative Title: "Corrina, Corrina".
  • Anaphora: "Blowin' In The Wind" has three different short anaphoras:
    How many roads must a man walk down
    Before you call him a man?
    How many seas must the white dove sail
    Before she sleeps in the sand?
    The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
    The answer is blowin' in the wind
    Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist
    'Fore it is washed to the sea?
    Yes, and how many years can some people exist
    Before they're allowed to be free?
    Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
    And pretend that he just doesn't see?
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: "Masters of War".
    I hope that you die and your death will come soon
    I will follow your casket on that pale afternoon
    And I'll watch as your lowered down to your death bed
    And I'll stand o'er your grave 'til I'm sure that you're dead.
  • Black Comedy: "Talkin' World War III Blues" starts out with Dylan surviving a nuclear assault on New York, and then gets bleaker and bleaker without ever losing its sense of humor.
  • Break-Up Song:
    • "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance"
    Honey, just allow me one more chance to get along with you
    Honey, just allow me one more chance, I'll do anything with you
    Well, lookin' for a woman that ain't got no man
    Is just lookin' for a needle that is lost in the sand
    • "Corrina, Corrina"
    Corrina, Corrina
    Gal, where you been so long?
    Corrina, Corrina
    Gal, where you been so long?
    I been worrying about you, baby
    Baby, please come home
    • "Down the Highway"
    Well, the ocean took my baby
    My baby stole my heart from me
    Yes, the ocean took my baby
    My baby took my heart from me
    She packed it all up in a suitcase
    Lord, she took it away to Italy, Italy
    • "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"
    I ain't a-saying you treated me unkind
    You could have done better but I don't mind
    You just kinda wasted my precious time
    But don't think twice, it's all right.
  • Breather Song: "Bob Dylan's Blues" and "I Shall Be Free", which are far more light than the heavier topics on the album.
  • But Now I Must Go: The central message of "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright".
  • Continuity Nod: Dylan would later sing a different version of "Girl from the North Country" on his album Nashville Skyline from 1969, in duet with Johnny Cash.
  • Cryptically Unhelpful Answer:
    The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.
  • The Diss Track: "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" is a cutting indictment of a former lover.
    Goodbye's too good a word, babe,
    So I'll just say fare thee well.
    I ain't saying you treated me unkind,
    You could have done better but I don't mind,
    You just kinda wasted all of my precious time,
    But don't think twice, it's all right.
  • Epic Rocking: "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "Talkin' World War II Blues" are 7 and 6 and a half minutes, respectively.
  • Face on the Cover: A photo of Dylan and then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo walking down Jones Street in Manhattan's West Village.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: "Blown' in the Wind"
    How many years can some people exist before they are allowed to be free?
  • Final Speech: "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" was written in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    Every line in it is actually the start of a whole new song. But when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn't have enough time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: "Blowin' in the Wind"
    Yes, how many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free?
  • Just Ignore It:
    • "Blowin' in the Wind" asks several rhetorical questions, to which "the answer is blowin' in the wind".
    Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
    Pretending he just doesn't see?
    (...) Yes, how many ears must one man have
    Before he can hear people cry?
    Yes, how many death will it take till he knows
    That too many people have died?
    • "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall"
    I heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'
  • Non-Appearing Title: The album title.
  • Nostalgia Filter: "Bob Dylan's Dream", where he dreams from his friends of the past.
    How many a year has passed and gone
    Many a gamble has been lost and won
    And many a road taken by many a first friend
    And each one I've never seen again.
    I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
    That we could sit simply in that room again
    Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
    I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that.
  • One-Woman Song: "Girl from the North Country", "Corrina, Corrina".
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance", where Dylan wants his lover to give him one more chance.
  • Production Foreshadowing: Electric guitar and drums on "Corrina, Corrina", several years before he officially "went electric."
  • Protest Song: "Blowin' In The Wind", "Oxford Town", "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "Masters Of War".
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Masters Of War" is one long litany, aimed at warmongers.
    You fasten all the triggers
    For the others to fire
    Then you set back and watch
    When the death count gets higher
    You hide in your mansion
    As young people's blood
    Flows out of their bodies
    And is buried in the mud.
  • Self-Titled Album: Sort of: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Girl from the North Country" borrows two lines from the traditional song "Scarborough Fair" (best known to modern audiences from Simon & Garfunkel's arrangement a few years later, though they were hardly the first ones to perform it)
    Remember me to one who lives there
    For she once was a true love of mine
    • "Bob Dylan's Blues"
    Well, the The Lone Ranger and Tonto
    They are ridin' down the line
    Fixin' everybody's troubles, everybody except mine
    Somebody must have told 'em that I was doin' fine
    Oh, I set me down on a television floor,
    I flipped the channel to number four.
    Out of the shower comes a football man
    With a bottle of oil in his hand.
    Greasy kid stuff.
    What I want to know, Mr Football Man, is
    What do you do about Willy Mays,
    Martin Luther King,
    • On the wall of the bathroom graffiti cover of The Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet from 1968 we can read the text: "Bob Dylan's Dream", a reference to the song of the same name from this album.
    • "I Shall Be Free, No. 10" is referenced during The Beastie Boys' song "Car Thief" from Paul's Boutique from 1989
    I'm a writer, a poet, a genius, I know it
    • Vanilla Sky: One scene in this film duplicates the album cover. Which turns out to be the clue to David's character that he has dreamt his memories about Sofia, because his memory of them two walking on Times Square is just a memory of the image on "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan", which he confused with reality.
  • Singer Name Drop: "Bob Dylan's Dream", "Bob Dylan's Blues" and the following line from "I Shall Be Free"
    It's President Kennedy callin' me up
    He said; "My friend, Bob, what do we need to make the country grow?
  • Something Blues: "Bob Dylan's Blues".
  • Something Else Also Rises: "I Shall Be Free"
    Well, my telephone rang it would not stop
    It's President Kennedy callin' me up
    He said, "My friend Bob, what do we need to make the country grow?"
    I said, "My friend John, Brigitte Bardot! Anita Ekberg! Sophia Loren!

    ...Country'll grow!"
  • Spoken Word: The intro to "Bob Dylan's Blues".
  • A Storm Is Coming: "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall".
    I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
  • This Is Unforgivable!: "Masters of War".
    You might say Iím unlearned
    But thereís one thing I know
    Though Iím younger than you
    Even Jesus would never
    Forgive what you do
  • Three Chords and the Truth: All the songs are acoustic, but the lyrics are powerful.
  • Time Marches On: During "I Shall Be Free" Dylan phones up president John F. Kennedy.
  • To Absent Friends: "Bob Dylan's Dream", where Dylan dreams of friends he lost contact with.
  • Train Song: "Bob Dylan's Dream"
    While riding on a train goin' west
    I fell asleep for take me a rest
  • Uncommon Time: "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" jumps around a lot, but spends more time in 7/4 (or 21/8) than anything else. (There are also bars of 5/4 and 9/4 in the transitions to and from some of the choruses, plus a few measures of 4/4 in each chorus proper.) Many transcriptions just place the whole thing in ridiculously fast 3/4 (with patterns of mostly seven measures) just to avoid having to notate all the changes, but the song doesn't really play like 3/4 - the chord changes are too important to the impact of the song and don't match up with such a fast tempo.
  • Walking the Earth: "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright", "Down The Highway" and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall".
  • War Is Hell:
    • "Masters of War".
    You that never done nothin'
    But build to destroy
    You play with my world
    Like it's your little toy
    You put a gun in my hand
    And you hide from my eyes
    And you turn and run farther
    When the fast bullets fly.
    • "Blowin' in the Wind"
    How many times must a cannonball fly before there forever banned?
  • Win Your Freedom: "I Shall Be Free".
  • World War III:
    • "Talkin' World War III Blues".
    Some time ago a crazy dream came to me
    I dreamt I was walkin' into World War Three
    I went to the doctor the very next day
    To see what kinda words he could say
    He said it was a bad dream
    I wouldn't worry 'bout it none, though
    They're dreams and they're only in your head.
    I said, "Hold it, Doc, a World War passed through my brain".
    He said, "Nurse, get your pad, this boy's insane".
    • "Masters of War"
    A world war can be won, you want me to believe