Old music: Bob Dylan – Blowin' in the Wind

How many roads must a man walk down, before he hails a cab? Bob Dylan could never answer that

OK, this column is often written by and for old blokes trying to remember what it was like to be young, or – in my case – what it was like when I had hair. But a few days ago I walked into the kitchen to find my student daughter had covered the table with much of my old vinyl for an essay on the music of the 60s. Her interest was how the three main areas, classical, jazz and pop, all came together to borrow each other's ideas. Not many people remember that doyen of fine classical recording Deutsche Grammophon gave birth to the pop label Parlophone, for instance. So I found myself sorting through everything from Miles Davis to Bartók and getting little emotional tingles. The sharpest twang came from Bob Dylan.

Oh yes, I confess to singing it myself all sorts of places – student demos to trippy hillsides (God, I played the guitar badly). I also saw himself blasting it out at one of the grimmest places for a pop festival, Blackbushe airfield in 1978. At least I think I remember that. By the second half of the 60s, when I went to college, Dylan's words had already become second nature to most of us and people could sing along by heart. Agreed, The Times They Are a-Changin' was more politically meaningful. But Blowin' in the Wind moved us more, at least the young men, because it was also poetry about our growing up: "Before you can call him a man" or "before he can see the sky."

My daughter smiled kindly as I told her this. "How many years can a mountain exist/ Before it is washed to the sea," I thought to myself.


Tim Maby

The GuardianTramp

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