Day 5 of 365: ”A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” -The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
Our biggest leap yet, as today’s Dylan song came 46 years before the last one. Hard Rain is one of Dylan’s most recognized works, and has remained a relevant song in the world of political causes for the last 50 years.
The song is often misinterpreted as written in response to the Cuban MIssile Crisis which occurred in October of 1962, as the “Hard Rain” is thought to be nuclear fallout. The song, however, was written months prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Iroinically enough, the source of this misinterpretation can be traced back to Dylan himself, who claimed that he wrote it in response to the Crisis, saying,
“Every line in it is actually the start of a whole new song. But when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn’t have enough time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one.”
Dylan has since made quite clear that a “Hard Rain” is simply just that, not some sort of nuclear fallout, and means, “just some sorta end that’s gotta happen”. The song stands as an elegant dialogue describing the prevalent injustices in 1960’s society, and is filled with arguably the greatest imagery ever written into a song.
Despite being written almost 5 decades ago, the song is still what it was 50 years ago; A bitter reminder of the wrong we let exist simply because of our acceptance of the status quo.
After watching the amazing documentary directed by one Martin Scorsese on Bob Dylan entitled, “No Direction Home”, one cannot hear “Hard Rain” without seeing Allen Ginsberg reminisce on it. Ginsberg was a great American poet, and an influential leader of the Beat Generation of the 1950’s. Best known for his epic poem, “Howl” Ginsberg is interviewed in the documentary and describes the first time he heard “Hard Rain”:
“I heard “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall… and wept because it seemed to me that the torch had been passed to another generation.”
Ginsberg said he had not heard lines as beautiful as:
“And I’ll tell and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my songs well before I start singin’”
A beautiful song, and a prime example of the craft of songwriting at its best. Enjoy, yet ask yourselves these questions Dylan would have all ask themselves:
Where have you been?
What have you seen?
What have you heard?
Who have you met?
What will you do now?