• Jes A.

The Break: How Blowing In The Wind blew my mind.

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

I was once indulging in some well-deserved movie night with me, myself and I on a late Saturday evening in my first year of university, after having spent most of the day studying and writing various assignments. I was mentally exhausted, so I decided to watch a documentary (as you do on a Saturday evening) which resulted in me stumbling upon a film on Sam Cooke’s killing. I clicked immediately and I let minutes pass me by as my eyes lingered on the screen that recounted the life of one of the greatest musicians of all time. Towards the end, they mentioned a song called “Blowing in the wind, which Cooke had decided to make a cover of.

I was in shock.

How did I manage to go 19 years of my life without ever hearing this song?

I quickly looked up both the lyrics and the original song by Bob Dylan and right there, sometime after 11 pm in the oddly quiet campus accommodation I felt the words of that song come to reality right before my eyes, and it quite literally blew my mind (pun intended). After doing some digging on the web, I found out that Dylan wrote the song in no more than 10 minutes with no intention of creating such an anthem for generations to come.

I found myself falling in love with both the original song and Sam Cooke’s take on it, as they transmit the emotions of the lyrics in two interesting ways. In the times of segregation, his only platform to address the issue of racism was the literal platform he entrained his fans on. One could see this cover as the first act in a grandiose production on the desire for an end to oppression, which would be quite majestically concluded with Cooke’s 1964 single A change is gonna come. With this cover, he delivered the message that only a few attentive ears would have caught, in their midst of rejoicing and cheering to the song.

This is contrasted to Dylan’s delivery of the song, which is quieter, heartfelt and charged with sadness and bitterness towards the realisation that this is the world we live in. The original version comes across as a poem, a pondering on paper of simple observation of the stifled lives all around you.

Since my movie night, I found myself listening to this song on my way to lectures, before going to sleep, amid this pandemic and in the aroused anger of millions due to the ever-present issue of racism.

This is a timeless song. It transcends the differences that arise with the passing of decades and trends because it looks straight in the eyes of the human condition with an undertone if irony because truly no one is blinded to humanity’s constant perpetuating of evil and injustice; we all have a sense that something is wrong. But regardless if this strong conviction, we choose, every day to ignore this and to let the answer to be carried off somewhere else by the wind. Somewhere where someone will one day reach out and grasp for it.

“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,” - Bob Dylan

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