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Bob Dylan, The Prophet


Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.  Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, Dylan’s family called Hibbing, Minnesota home.  They lived in a small Jewish community outside of Duluth, after Dylan’s father contracted polio.  Dylan experienced a typical childhood for a young Jewish boy growing up in the 1940’s and 1950’s. As a young boy, Dylan recalled listening to a blues radio station broadcast from Shreveport, Louisiana.  Soon, he was listening to musical icons Little Richard and Elvis Presley.


Bob Dylan has been creating amazing music over a span of seven decades.  Some of his greatest hits include “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “Like a Rolling Stone.”  There were these, and many others, that spoke both realism and peace into generation after generation of fans.  However, for me, my favorite Dylan hit has always been, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”


The song was released in 1964 during a time when President Lyndon Johnson escalated the Vietnam War and signed the Civil Rights Acts.  During this period of the 1960’s, people felt like the world was spinning so rapidly that each day brought something shocking and/or revolutionary to the front pages of their newspapers.  For the generation from which I was born, Dylan’s song captured the time perfectly.


Come gather 'round people where ever you roam

And admit that the waters around you have grown

And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you is worth savin'

Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone,

For the times they are a' changin’!


Come writers and critics who prophesy 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’!


Come senators, congressmen please heed the call

Don't stand in the doorway don't block up the hall

For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled

There's a battle outside and it's ragin'

It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls

For the times they are a' changin’!


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 agin'

Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand

For the times they are a' changin’!


The line it is drawn the curse it is cast

The slow one now will later be fast

As the present now will later be past

The order is rapidly fadin'

And the first one now will later be last

For the times they are a' changin’!


While Dylan brilliantly and poetically captured the realities of the 1960’s, his lyrics and music are timeless.  Read the words again, but this time apply them to our day.  Indeed, the times are a changing and the waters are swelling.  We need prophets to take up their pens once again.  We need statesmen more concerned about the wellbeing of our country than their reelections.  We need families that place love above everything else, even when they don't understand.  As the old poet reminds us, these days  are quickly fading.  Therefore, we need to act today, not tomorrow.  


Congrats Bob Dylan on your Nobel Prize and thank you for being a prophet among us!

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