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

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In a previous article, we took a look at the meaning of Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and got a little hooked on its lyricism. So now we try to break down the meaning of one of the most commented songs in history, “Blowin’ In The Wind”.

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

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

There’s not much I can say about this song except the answer is blowing in the wind. It’s not in any 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 hipsters tell me where the answer is, but oh, I won’t believe it. I always say it’s in the wind and just like a waved piece of paper, it has to fall a bit… But the only problem is no one picks up the answer when it falls, so few people can see and know. . . then he flies away. I always say that some of the greatest criminals are those who turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 and I know there have been too many. . . You people over 21 are older and smarter.

There is so much wisdom in those words and in 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.

Meaning of the song and review of the lyrics of “Blowin’ In The Wind”

How many roads must a man take
Before calling him a man?

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

The simplest interpretation would be that the artist is asking about a person’s life experiences – how many does it take for someone to be considered an adult. Other interpretations include references to the civil rights marches that were popular in the 60s. How many of those marches would it take to earn what they are naturally entitled to?

How many seas must a white dove travel
Before sleeping in the sand?

A “white dove” is the universal symbol of peace, unity and harmony, or at least on Earth. Bob Dylan asks how many of these white doves have to sail before world peace is achieved? White doves are released at ceremonies commemorating peace, and the day no white doves shall fly is the day everyone is at peace.

Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they are permanently banned?

A direct reference to the war is seen here. Cannonballs were a popular and destructive tool of warfare during medieval warfare. Why would they be banned? The day a tool of war was useless would be the day cannonballs were banned. And on such a day, we can expect peace.

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

Is there no answer to world peace? Yes there is. Where is it? They blow in the wind. The answers are there for anyone willing to grasp them. The real problem is that no one wants or can grasp these answers.

bob dylan blow in the wind lyrics review song meaning

Verse 2 comes into play;

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed out to sea?

A mountain represents something solid and strong. It is a reference to life. How long can a proud and glorious person exist before everything is gone? There is nothing certain in this world and as great mountains one day come crashing down on the earth, the people who have greatness and hold it above them will also crumble.

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

Bob Dylan captured African American mistreatment in “Blowin’ In The Wind” with the lines above. 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 disenfranchised that they just “exist”, not live.

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

The greatest sin a person can commit is to see something wrong and turn their head the other way. How long can we go on without addressing these issues that are in our hands? How long can we close our eyes?

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

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

bob dylan blow in the wind song critical sense of lyrics

remnants of war

The third and final verse of “Blowin’ In The Wind” kicks off;

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

‘Heaven’ is freedom. The artist believed in freedom and equal opportunity for all. How long do people have to fight and bleed for this freedom? Why is there no simple solution? Why can’t everyone be happy together?

Yes, and how many ears should a man have
Before he can hear people cry?

The cries of war and the cries of freedom are not heard, but for how long? Aren’t two ears enough to hear this pain? How can people turn a blind eye to all this screaming?

Yes, and how many deaths will it take until he finds out
That too many people have died?

War is simply futile – should there be one dead or a thousand. There are countless wars where people have been slaughtered in the name of lords, kings and gods. But none of that mattered to the glorified generals. When would they understand that too many mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children have died without a cause?

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

And the answer to all these questions posed by Bob Dylan is right there in the wind. They move, they change, but the answers are there. It’s just trying to pick them up.

blow in the wind song by bob dylan critical sense of lyrics

Look for what blows in the wind

Now 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 a humanitarian. He put his skills to good use like in this song.

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

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