Bob Dylan is one of the most well-respected musicians in his era, giving strong meaning and perception to timeless music. "Blowin' in the Wind" (recorded in May of 1962) provides three themes to the song: war, freedom, and peace. Those themes give strong meaning to social movement and the Vietnam War. Each line in the song gives a different meaning and suggests structure throughout the entire song. In analyzing the lyrics of every verse, there’s no right or wrong answer to what something means or suggests. However, a common theme is mentioned, starting with lyrics representing war in the first verse.
In the first verse, the last line lyrics are: “how many times must the cannonballs fly, before they’re forever banned?” This line suggests when iron-heavy cannonballs fly in the air and are done exploding, will they finally come to an end, and will the war conclude? The battle is what you see most often in your mind, but when will the war finally be over? Some may represent this line as freedoms, as guns and cannonballs give meaning to someone or something else, and it’s alright to have different feelings. However, "Blowin' in the Wind" does give answers to its meaningful and powerful lyrics.
As the song continues, the second verse gives meaning to freedom in the second line of lyrics: “how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?" This gives strong mention to the Vietnam War and freedom. The lyrics state how long will people live before they are allowed to feel stronger and more powerful, knowing they are set free. I cannot see peace as a common theme from the lyrics. They may give some meaning to slavery, as it did exist during the Vietnam War. When are those people going to be set free? The feeling of freedom comes back into a common theme.
The White Dove Symbolizing Peace
The last common theme of peace, I believe, is the most powerful and relaxing to mention. The first verse in the second line illustrates the theme well: “how many times must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand?” You may think of a white dove soaring in the sky, finally swooping down to the ground and relaxing in the sand. Someone else may imagine a single, white dove flying high in the morning sky representing peaceful calm. As soon as she leaves, the battle begins, and the theme of peace disappears. Powerful and meaningful music lyrics are what make a song unique and distinctive;giving different messages and different meaning to people.
The Anti-War Advocates: Peter, Paul, and Mary
Peter, Paul, and Mary were huge advocates during the Vietnam War. They sang, performed, and recorded many songs and versions of songs during the war. They were anti-war believers and wanted to bring meaningful and powerful messages to people. When they sang their version of "Blowin' in the Wind," close your eyes and you can almost see the Vietnam War in front of you; the cannonballs flying as they soar across the sky and all the soldiers on the battlefield. If heard closely, you even get goosebumps from how they sing lyrics, as meaning pours from their voice and beautiful harmonies throughout the song.
"Blowin' in the Wind" gives deep impact throughout the song based on three universal themes: war, freedom, and peace. As you listen to the recording from Bob himself, or Peter, Paul, and Mary, the image of the social structure, the Vietnam War, and past memories flood the mind. These may provoke feelings of happiness and joy, or sadness and sorrow. Regardless of what the song gives meaning to, “the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind.”
About the Creator
I have eight essays published, and I'm proud of that achievement. They are there for "you". I write about anything that you find intriguing! To find them, search for my name "Jason Anschutz". I take a lot of pride in what I write about.