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Big Sky Beats: “The Times They Are a-Changin’” — Bob Dylan

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Photo credit: Joan Baez

Bob Dylan wrote “The Times They Are a-Changin’” in fall of 1963 and it was released as the title track of Dylan’s 1964 album of the same name. It was inspired by Irish and Scottish ballads and the theme was a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change to reflect the civil rights movement. Dylan was once heard telling blues musician Tony Glover, “It seems to be what the people want to hear.”

Less than a month after Dylan recorded the song, President Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated and the following evening Dylan opened a concert with it. According to biographer Anthony Scaduto, Dylan was apprehensive, fearing the poignant messaging of the song would strike the wrong chords and upset the crowd. “Something had just gone haywire in the country and they were applauding the song,” Dylan said of the event. “I couldn’t understand why they were clapping, or why I wrote the song. I couldn’t understand anything. For me, it was just insane.”

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