Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bob Dylan - Top Three Bob Dylan Metaphors

Cover of "The Times They Are A-Changin'"Cover of The Times They Are A-Changin'

by Brent Warnken

There's a time for being topical and there's a time for being timeless. Bob Dylan was able to make things both relevant to the matters of the day and give his songs a kind of universal commonality through the use of simple metaphors in some of his most famous songs. While songs like "Hurricane" and "Lay lady Lay" are two examples of Dylan being up-front, here are three of the best times when Dylan obscures things through metaphor.

"Blowin' In the Wind"

One of Bob Dylan's most famous songs, "Blowin' In the Wind" is about just that - the wind, where you're supposed to find the answer to some of life's most puzzling, confounding and hopelessly unanswerable, rhetorical questions. Does the wind metaphor mean that your answers are everywhere, swirling all around you, or does it mean that the answers are like a piece of paper in a wind storm, hard to pin down with your foot if it ever comes down on the ground?

Dylan asks, "How many roads must a man walk down,/ Before you call him a man?/ How many seas must a white dove sail,/ Before she sleeps in the sand?/ How many times must cannonballs fly,/ Before they're forever banned?/ The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind/ The answer is blowin' in the wind." All of the imagery, the seas, the doves, the cannonballs, the roads, are unspecific metaphors that could mean anything you're thinking about at the time.

"The Times They Are a-Changin'"

With "The Times They Are a-Changin'" there are several points where Bob Dylan uses metaphor, but the opening lines about the rising flood waters is perhaps one of the most obvious. Dylan sings, "Come gather 'round people/ Wherever you roam/ And admit that the waters/ Around you have grown/ And accept it that soon/ You'll be drenched to the bone./ If your time to you/ Is worth savin'/ Then you better start swimmin'/ Or you'll sink like a stone/ For the times they are a-changin'."

To Bob Dylan, the change that's coming is inevitable and will engulf the countryside whether you're ready for it or not, but is this an accurate depiction of progressive social changes? Are these movements like an unstoppable current, or are they more man-made and fragile?

"Like a Rolling Stone"

Widely regarded as one of the best rock songs in history, "Like a Rolling Stone" is centered around an obvious central metaphor - a rolling stone. A rolling stone, something that inspired a magazine about rock and the British rock band, the rolling stone is the quintessential conceptual image of music since the 1960s.

Dylan's song talks about vagrants and homelessness, going from being a somebody to being a nobody, but he's really talking about disillusionment and alienation and loneliness. Being a rolling stone means being unknown and unseen, but there's also a sense of freedom that comes with that disconnectedness. The chorus goes, "How does it feel?/ How does it feel?/ To be without a home/ Like a complete unknown/ Like a rolling stone." Bob Dylan is still in concert these days, and you can see him sing his famous metaphors if you purchase Bob Dylan tickets online.

This article about was written by Brent Warnken in association with, a leader in the sports tickets, concert tickets, theatre tickets and special events tickets market.
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