The answer is quite a bit more complicated than anyone thinks. First, there was Bob Dylan who began to write songs to express his anger with America’s role in Vietnam. He did both the original ‘Blowin’ In the Wind’ (1958) and ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964). The latter, which includes a line about a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people, received some flak even for the fact that a member of the government who had been killed and a few other Americans were on the cover of the album in 1965. It was criticized by other Dylan fans, some who called it “so bad it makes you wanna die.” Dylan had a more positive response; he called the album a work of art, one that has “good songs about war and good songs about love and good songs about war, and good songs about war and I love war. . . ”
But what was really groundbreaking was in 1968 when Dylan was awarded an Independent Album of the Year award from the British Council. In that year he and his family were living in a house next to the British embassy in New York. He also won Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album at both the 1965 Grammys and the 1976 MTV Awards. A month later, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, also presented at the Grammys by Pres. Lyndon Johnson. He had been in the United States a few years, but he never had set foot in the States.
For anyone who loves music that has a connection to war, he is a huge success. The influence on the pop and rock scene of the Vietnam era has been profound. Even though he is in the early stages of his death, Dylan has already been inducted into both the Rock, Roll, & College Halls of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (his first in 1979).
So where did this influence come from? As it turns out, the Beatles and Wings were both influenced by Dylan before him, but there was a specific influence that he gave them: “Blowin’ In The Wind.” It has been attributed to both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones before, but there is no doubt the influence came from Dylan himself, because he wrote almost all that material while still at age 27. When he started writing lyrics back in the early sixties, he often played an acoustic guitar and that is another one of his signature instruments. For the Wings’ drummer, Jimmy Page, that’s a revelation. (
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