This blog has two mottos.
“Good music doesn’t get old.” – Ferdinand Joseph “Jelly Roll Morton” LaMothe
“All valuable stories need to be told over and over again.” – Bruce Springsteen
Therefore, this post.
Also, quite sadly, this song is more relevant today than it ever was.
As the story goes…
Bob Dylan wrote “Blowin’ In The Wind” sometime in late March/(most likely) early April, 1962.
The first person he sang it for was his friend, Gil Tuner. Turner was a folksinger, political activist, editor of Broadside Folk music magazine and host of the hootenannies at Gerde’s Folk City in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
Gil’s response to Dylan’s new song was: “Jesus Christ, I’ve never heard anything like that in my entire life! That’s the most incredible song!”
Bob Dylan debuted “Blowin’ In The Wind” on stage at Gerde’s Folk City on April 16, 1962.
From that point on, Dylan performed “Blowin’ In The Wind” every chance he got.
Todd Harvey explains in his excellent 2001 book, The Formative Dylan: Transmission and Stylistic Influences, 1961-1963 that: “By the end of 1963 the song had become (Dylan’s) signature piece and had taken on a life of its own, working its way into the American psyche as a Civil rights and counterculture standard.”
On Monday, July 9, 1962, 21 year old Bob Dylan recorded “Blowin’ In The Wind” in Columbia Record’s Studio A in New York City. It was released on May 27, 1963 as the first track on his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
(Peter, Paul & Mary released their recording of “Blowin’ In The Wind” as a single on June 18, 1963. It went on to be a Top-10 million selling record and won the Grammy Award in 1964 for Best Folk Recording.)
Music journalist Paul Williams observed in his 1994 book, Bob Dylan: Performing Artist 1960-1973 that Dylan’s rendition that day “…has a presence, a magic, as if (he) took a deep breath and thought, ‘Okay, this one’s for posterity.'”
Listen for yourself.
(I know. You’ve heard it a thousand times. But go ahead, listen again.)
According to The Official Bob Dylan Website, Dylan has performed “Blowin’ In The Wind” one thousand five hundred and eighty four times since April 16, 1962. (The last time was on July 14, 2019.)
If you add in all of the times Peter, Paul & Mary performed it along with the performances of all of the other Folk singers (myself included) around the world who proudly included the song in their repertoire…
…why, oh why, are the answers to all of those questions still so elusive?
P.S.: This Historic Day In Music: “Blowin’ In The Wind” – Take 1 posted on July 9, 2015.