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A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

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2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Commentary

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Pete Seeger was organizing a big folk show at Carnegie Hall in 1962, which was to included a young Bob Dylan. The show was the biggest of Dylan’s career. They had too many performers, so Seeger announced that each performer would be limited to three songs with no performer playing more than ten minutes in total. Dylan raised his hand and asked what he should do since one of his songs was ten minutes long. Clearly, Dylan was doing things differently.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Dave Van Ronk’s reaction upon hearing Hard Rain for the first time at Gerde’s Folk City:

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 All I know is that afterward I had to get out of the club. I couldn’t speak – to Bobby or anybody else for that matter. I remember being confused and fascinated that night because, on one hand, the song itself excited me, and on the other, I was acutely aware that it represented the beginning of an artistic revolution.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Hard Rain is that kind of song.
Many observers have noted that the lyrics were influenced by the French Symbolists. Dylan mentions in a 1965 interview with the Village Voice published on March 3, 1965 that he was familiar with Rimbaud’s Evil Flowers. [Note: It was pointed out to me – see “Comments on Whole Page” – that Dylan misspoke (and I didn’t catch it). Evil Flowers was written by Charles Baudelaire.]

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 The Symbolist movement started in France in the late 19th century, a reaction against the popular Realism of the day. The Symbolists stressed the idea that art should describe an inner reality and should emphasize the musicality of the words.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 The Symbolists – Arthur Rimbaud, Stephane Mallarme, Paul Verlaine, and others – were enormously important to the entire world of art. They influenced the work of W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and Wallace Stevens, just to name a few poets. Their style was also influential in both theater and painting.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Hard Rain is full terrific images. “A highway of diamonds with nobody on it”…”ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard”…”ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken”… Tim Riley appropriately calls it a “surrealistic downpour” and “expressively untamed writing”.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 There’s a lot of alliteration. “twelve misty mountains”“seven sad forests”“ten thousand talkers”“guns and sharp swords”“one hundred drummers”“sound of a clown”… There’s a lot repetition: the mothers questions – where have you been/seen/heard/will do? the son answers – “been” is repeated twice, “saw” seven times, “heard” seven times, “met” six times, “where” six times. There’s more repetition in the chorus: “it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, and it’s a hard”.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Dylan borrowed the question and response pattern from Child Ballad No. 12 Lord Randal.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Todd Harvey says that the melody is unique to Dylan.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 Dylan scholar Stephen Scobie, author of Alias Bob Dylan, notes that the narrator in Dylan’s songs often takes on the role of a prophet. There are many examples of this: Jokerman, When the Ship Comes In, All Around the Watchtower, Hard Rain, and many others.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Dylan claimed in an interview with the Sheffield University Paper in May of 1965 that he wrote Hard Rain in a couple days. The song was recorded for Freewheelin’ in one take. It’s a wonderful performance, full of strength and insistence.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Two live performances of note: the song was performed at the Great Music Experience, in Naira City, Japan, 1994, with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Dylan singing with an orchestra sounds bad on paper, but it worked out beautifully.

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17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 BOB DYLAN – The Great Music Experience May 22nd 1994BOB DYLAN – The Great Music Experience May 22nd 1994 (New FIXED Transfer from VHS Nicam Stereo Master, JTT) DVDBob DylanThe Great Music ExperienceTodaiji TempleNaraJapanMay 22nd 1994BBC 2 BroadcastExcellent QualityVIDEO: Mpeg 2, PAL, 4×3, 720×576, 25fps, 4682 KbpsAUDIO: Mpeg-1 Layer 2, 48000 Hz, 224 kb/s, StereoSource: Panasonic NV-F65 HQ, Maxell PRO 60 > Panasonic NV-FJ630 (Playback) >Video Capture Card > TMPGEnc Authoring Suite 4.01. Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall2. I Shall Be Released3. Ring Them Bells4. I Shall Be Released (Ensemble) ****** Source: Panasonic NV-F65 HQ, TDK HG E180 > Sony SLV-F400, Maxell PRO 60 >Panasonic NV-FJ630 (Playback) > Video Capture Card >TMPGEnc Authoring Suite 4.0Menu with Track Selection

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Posted by Bob Dylan’s Music on Friday, August 13, 2010

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 My personal favorite, however, is Dylan’s performance of the song at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh from 1971. Dylan, who hadn’t performed in public for several years, reportedly wheeled in for the show on his bicycle. Dylan starts the song off rather quietly and slowly builds it to a dramatic and powerful conclusion. The close-up camera work effectively adds to the emotional impact of the performance.

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21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 Bootleg Series Volume 7 live version.

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24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Tom Paxton reminisces on the creation of Hard Rain Is Goin’ to Fall.

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27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Baez’s version,  featuring  her  dead-on Dylan impression.

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30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 Pete Seeger, including an interesting introduction.

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32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 A nervy version by Bryan Ferry.

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39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Lyrics

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains,
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways,
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests,
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans,
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard,
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard,
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it,
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’,
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’,
I saw a white ladder all covered with water,
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken,
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children,
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’,
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world,
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’,
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’,
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’,
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter,
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley,
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony,
I met a white man who walked a black dog,
I met a young woman whose body was burning,
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow,
I met one man who was wounded in love,
I met another man who was wounded with hatred,
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’,
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’,
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’,
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

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