bob dylan blowin' in the wind lyrics review song meaning

Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind (Lyrics Review & Song Meaning)

In a previous post we took a look at the meaning of “Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan and we kinda got hooked in with his lyricism. So now we attempt to break down the meaning of one of the most reviewed songs in the history, “Blowin’ In The Wind”.

“Blowin’ In The Wind” was released in 1963 as the first single off his second studio album ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’. The song speaks about humanity, war and peace and other ambiguous questions that people refuse to answer. Bob Dylan claims that the answers are already there.

In an interview Bob Dylan said the following about “Blowin’ In The Wind”;

There ain’t too much I can say about this song except that the answer is blowing in the wind. It ain’t in no book or movie or TV show or discussion group. Man, it’s in the wind – and it’s blowing in the wind. Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some …But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know . . . and then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many . . . You people over 21, you’re older and smarter.

There’s so much wisdom in these words and the lyrics of the song. You can listen to the song below.

You can buy the original version of “Blowin’ In The Wind” here on iTunes and Amazon.

Song Meaning and Lyrics Review of “Blowin’ In The Wind”

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?

One of the most famous quotes and mysterious lyrics of all time gives the start to this song. There have been many interpretations of this verse and there’s no wrong one.

The simplest interpretation would be that the artist is questioning about the life experiences of a person-how many of it does take for someone to be considered grown up. Other interpretations include references to civil right marches that were popular in the 60’s. How many of these walks would it take to win what they naturally have a right to?

How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?

A ‘white dove’ is the universal symbol of peace, unity and harmony-or at least in the Earth. Bob Dylan asks how many of these white doves must sail before world peace is achieved? White doves are released in ceremonies commemorating peace, and the day that no white doves must fly is the day that everybody is in peace.

Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?

A direct reference to war is seen here. Cannonballs were a popular, destructive tool of war during medieval wars. Why would they be banned? The day there is no use for a tool of war would be the day cannonballs would be banned. And in such a day, we can expect peace.

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

Is there no answer to world peace? Yes, there is. Where is it? They are blowing in the wind. The answers are out there for anyone who is willing to grab them. The real problem is that no one is willing or capable of grabbing those answers.

bob dylan blowin' in the wind lyrics review song meaning

Verse 2 kicks in;

Yes, How many years can a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?

A mountain represents something solid and strong. This is a reference to life. How long can someone with pride and glory exist before it all fades away? There’s nothing certain in this world and as great mountains someday wash down to the earth, people with greatness and hold it over them will crumble down as well.

Yes, and how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?

Bob Dylan captured the African American mistreatment in “Blowin’ In The Wind” with the above lines. He asks the question, when will these people be free? ‘Exist’ is a powerful word here. Dylan subtly says that these African Americans are so deprived of their rights that they are merely ‘existing’, not living.

Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?

The greatest sin a person can do is seeing some wrong doing and turning his head the other way. How long can we go on without addressing these issues that are before our hands? How long can we turn a blind eye?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

Again, all the answers are just out there, waiting for someone to grab them.

bob dylan blowin' in the wind song meaning lyrics review
Residue of war

Third and last verse of “Blowin’ In The Wind” kicks in;

Yes, How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?

‘Sky’ is freedom. The artist believed in freedom and equal opportunity for all. How long does people have to fight and bleed for this freedom? Why isn’t there a simple solution? Why can’t everyone be happy together?

Yes, and how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?

The cries of war and cries of freedom are left unheard, but for how long? Isn’t two ears enough to hear this pain? How can people turn a blind eye to all this outcries?

Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?

War is just futile-should there be one death or a thousand. There are countless wars where people were sent into slaughter in the name of Lords and Kings and Gods. But none of that have mattered to glorified generals. When would they realize that too many mothers, fathers, husbands and wives and children have died for no cause?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

And the answer to all these questions Bob Dylan poses are there in the wind. They move, they change, but the answers are there. It’s only a matter of trying to pick them up.

blowin' in the wind bob dylan song meaning lyrics review
Search for what’s blowing in the wind

Henceforth, we conclude JRT’s review of one of the greatest songs of our time. Bob Dylan was more than just a singer/songwriter-he was a visionary and he was a humanitarian. He put his skills to good use like in this song.

The “Blowin’ In The Wind” review is up for debate and discussion and we warmly welcome your opinions about this song.

7 thoughts on “Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind (Lyrics Review & Song Meaning)

  1. To me it’s the flag of the country that’s blowing in the wind. The country makes the laws that oppress people and sends them to war. If people would see that they can start making changes.

    1. That’s such a potent observation. I never thought of a flag when pondering the meaning of this song but it is so obvious. You could even see the flag as an analogy for the nature of reality itself, the matrix, or the Buddhist word for it: maya. Whatever perturbations occur, the wise observer has to be one step removed to see the ideal unchanging meaning of reality over time.

  2. I see this as more civil rights which was boiling in 1963 than the Vietnam War which didn’t really escalate until the mid-60s.

    1. There were lots of wars in the early 1960s. The Vietnam War actually started in the mid-1950s, even tho the states was not involved till later. Affecting the U.S., there was the Nicaraguan Civil war and don’t forget the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, which fortunately did not lead to a nuclear war. There were all sorts of WWII movies with John Wayne and others fighting in the Pacific and Europe, to remind us about war. And of course, the Civil Rights movement was coming to the for, as you point out.

      1. The “country” doesn’t make the laws. The people are the country.
        Politicians make the laws.
        People can change the laws by voting out those politicians who oppose their wants/beliefs.
        In the 1960s-1970s, people 21-30 years didn’t vote. A common phrase was “voting is for old people”.

      2. An eloquent reply. Knowledge mixed w/respect. I’m 65 and I hear those of my generation using a tone that is obnoxious and mixed w/ “Ah, you’re just a kid, what do you know? Let me learn ya’ a thing or two.”
        Well….okay…I’m exaggerating. But not much!

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