I am listening to various covers of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” today on this MLK day.
Dylan sang at the march on Washington in 1963, where MLK delivered his now famous “I Have a Dream Speech.” Dylan released this song in 1963. It became an anthem for both the civil rights movement in the sixties and later the anti-war movement. It was dubbed a “protest song,” but Dylan never seemed to be comfortable with that label. The song is much more of a lament. It grew out of the tradition of the spirituals sung by those enduring the inhumanity of slavery. “Blowin’ in the Wind” was inspired by “No More Auction Block,” a negro spiritual originally sung by freed slaves living in Canada in the 19th century. It seems fitting for “Blowin’ in the Wind,” which asks how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free, to be rooted in the that tradition of slavery and freedom.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” may be the most covered Dylan song of them all. Peter, Paul And Mary made the song a hit in 1963. Their harmonious, folk version was just one of the dozens and dozens of covers that have been recorded over the last forty years. From my quick perusal through the Internet, I found versions of this song done in Rock, Folk, Reggae, Country, Punk, R&B, Pop, Gospel, Latin, Children’s, Jazz, Blues, and Techno. I am still waiting for Jay-Z to come out with full rap version. I have really enjoyed Stevie Wonder’s cover. He performed this one in 1992 at Dylan’s Tribute in Madison Square Garden. “Blowin’ in the Wind” has been covered by a ton of artists. (Most of these are in iTunes Store). I have really enjoyed this one by Stevie Wonder:
Stevie Wonder is right. This is a song that will endure. It will always be relevant to something going on in the world, at least until Jesus returns. This is a classic song that refrains with the same messages of Old Testament prophets. It asks questions about righteousness and justice. These are the questions asked by the biblical prophets and prophets today. The Church that Jesus is building and the kingdom he is proclaiming is centered on the issues of righteousness and justice, living in right relationship with God (righteousness) and living in right relationship with neighbors (justice). And Jesus is the answer. He is the One blowing in the winds of the Spirit. He is for us righteousness and justice. He justified us through his death, burial, and resurrection, giving righteousness to us. And he is our example and empowerer in living a just life. Dylan is right in line with the biblical prophetic tradition.
In addition to Peter, Paul And Mary, and Stevie Wonder. This song has been covered by:
The Chad Mitchell Trio
House of Fools
The Soul Stirrers
The Doodletown Pipers
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
The Edwin Hawkins Singers
Vitamin String Quartet
Jerold Ottley & Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The Gospel Hummingbirds
Saturday Nite Fish Fry
Maya and Miguel
The Gene Norman Group
The Magic Time Travelers
The New World Singers
Billy Lee Riley
The Tolley Town Orchestra
Scott B. Adams & Tom Rasely
John Burrows & The Cocabanana Band
Nina & Rederik
Estudio Miami Ritmo
Slim & The Supreme Angels
Is there any doubting Dylan’s influence on popular music?
Is there any doubting Dylan’s prophetic sustainability?
Here is one of my favorite live versions. It is a duet with Joan Baez. This is from 1976: