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Times Are A-Changin'

Times Are A-Changin'

In 1964, when “The Times They Are A-Changin’” first caught the nation’s ear, Bob Dylan was already being called the voice of a generation, and this sounded like the kind of song a voice of a generation would write. It seemed like it had been written by a committee: all bases covered. Pundits, politicians, parents — look out, the world is turning upside down.

And yet the song was too unpredictably written and compoed to surrender to its own cliches. You couldn’t sing along to it, as with “This Land is Your Land” or “Eyes on the Prize.” “Come Senators, Congressmen/Please heed the call,” Dylan sang — that was a trumpt blowing flat. But “Don’t stand in the doorway/Don’t block up the hall” instnatly raised the specter not of the people’s representatives but of the people themselves, a tide rushing through.

The song has never gone away. Its licensing for commercials — for a Canadian bank years back, for Kaiser Permanente today — has not deformed it, perhaps because the song never promised that the times were changing for the better, only that change was the rhythm of life — in politics and culture, style and ideas, images and sound. Today it’s less a promise than a challenge, to whoever might hear it, a flag waving for all that could change: could, should, might, won’t, must. [Greil Marcus]

UPDATE :: Added the other two interviews!

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