And It’s a Hard…

If you are of a certain age, the title of this piece will ring a bell and you’ll automatically complete the line. The song, A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall’, the title of Bob Dylan’s epic ballad of 1962, is perhaps his best known song. Those who recall it will remember the question and answer form, apocalyptic message and length. I feel like I’ve known this song all my life though it’s not a song I care to play these days. But now that old earworm has been firmly replanted, after watching Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story on Netflix recently. The previously unseen footage of Dylan’s performances during this concert tour is riveting. There are many annoying and fake aspects of the film: I was gullible enough to believe I was watching an actual documentary. In a world where fake news dominates the media and lying politicians are believed, you might say, so what, it’s only a film. What stays with me most is the strong performance of Dylan, appearing in that 1975 road tour face painted as a rock star/clown/kabuki performer, as he energetically belts out a stunning and ominous performance of Hard Rain. No more spoilers, except this small film clip.

In the meantime, I’m wondering how we might rejig this foreboding Dylan ballad, which was adapted from traditional troubadour folk ballads with the same question and answer format, in particular the English- Scottish lyrical song, Lord Randall.¹ Perhaps my new version could go along these lines:

And what did you see, my brown eyed girl,

And what did you see when you opened that URL?

I saw one thousand dead fish, in a dried up old river,

A mountain of plastic, afloat on an ocean,

 The ice covered mountains, were crying from melting

I saw ancient green forests, bulldozed for more profit

The skies turned red, the houses were burning

 Coal was dug up, the planet was dying

Men who were lying, the people believing

Wise men were writing but no one was reading

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall. Add some more verses of your own, at least another 6 minutes worth. The choice is endless and you don’t even need to lie. Time to bring back the protest song.

¹ For those interested in musicology, follow this link to a version of Lord Randall, with lyrics.

20 thoughts on “And It’s a Hard…”

  1. Love what you have written . . . agree with each point made in your verse . . . but again our lives diverge: you may find it very hard to believe that coming from a vey music=loving family I have never ever listened to Bob Dylan ! In my teenage years my parents regarded anything bar opera, symphony, chamber and choral and folk music as ‘rubbish’ and I was simply not allowed to access . . . by the time I married obviously there were no such limits but ‘classics’ only remained . . . Hate pop, am not used to protest . . . to each their own, I guess with a big smile . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand that Eha, but Bob Dylan has never been a pop star. A poet and troubadour may better describe his work of old. I am fairly eclectic in my music taste, but now mostly listen to world music, tunes from India, Western Sahara, or celtic Breton being my favourites. Often wake up to a morning raga, put on classical music if stuck in the car, some old blues music when feeling amorous, tarantella for a bit of dancing.

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      1. *Sunday pm smile* Oh, I am eclectic that way also ! I believe what you call ‘world music’ I childishly may term ‘folk’ Love Indian ragas also, tho’ they have never been acceptable to others who may have been here ! . . . And I DO love the blues . . . well, to me that again harks back largely to Afro-Americans who seemed to most espouse it way back . . and I love dancing, so . . . but Bob Dylan – when you are unaware what a gifted person ‘does’ well . . . I have an additional quite ‘queer’ interest Berlin night-club music (‘schlager’) of the 1930s . . . the oh so sophisticated risqué stuff I heard my parents play at their parties: I speak German fluently and still have cupboards full of vinyl . . yes, well 🙂 !

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  2. Gotta love Bob Dylan the musical storyteller.
    I saw him live about 20 years ago. Unfortunately he’d lost all his passion. Drugs maybe?

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    1. Storyteller but also activist. I chose to highlight this particular song because it seems so pertinent today. Yes, I suppose Dylan gets a bit burnt out with all that touring. I’ve never been to his concerts- not that much of a fan, but love his poetry.

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  3. I might not fall in that age category but I do have a very soft spot for good old rock. My aunt and uncle are huge rock / country music lovers and growing up, I was always around it. Love what you wrote. And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you on Italophilia!! Much love xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Driving home the other day I heard part of a discussion on ABC Local about the dumbing down of music lyrics. Later -curious- I did a Google search, and it seems to be the consensus. I listen to most music via a our Google mini device and Spotify for convenience and variety… I’ve been known to request it to “skip this song” because the lyrics are simply stupid. This morning I turned on ABC Local and the song playing was Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi. Thinking about it, there are no recent protest songs. I thought I’d try my hand…
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot
    With profits, shareholders
    And snouts in troughs
    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    ‘Till it’s gone…
    Hey miner miner
    Put away that Adani permit now
    Give me clean renewable energy
    Leave me the birds and the bees
    Please
    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    ‘Till it’s gone…
    They took all the rivers
    And put in a water bank
    And they charged all the people
    A dollar and a half to drink it
    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    ‘Till it’s gone
    They paved paradise
    And they put up a parking lot…

    Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story is on my Netflix list, I’m looking forward to watching it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great new lines to ‘parking lot’ :found myself singing along. You’re going to enjoy that Netflix film, especially when Joni Mitchell appears towards the end. The female fiddle player stole the show too, ok no more spoilers from me. I took my kids to every midnight oil concert in the 80s, another great protest band. I can dance like Peter Garrett when I hear Beds are Burning or the Power and the Passion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Watched it last night… I like Joni Mitchell, loved Joan Baez, enjoyed Bob Dylan’s more coherent offerings… but yes Scarlet Rivera was the standout, I had no idea. Worth watching… and it was well after 11 pm… very late for me… to the end for Allen Ginsberg’s closing words… “You, who saw it all, or who saw flashes and fragments, take from us some example, try and get yourselves together, clean up your act, find your community, pick up on some kind of redemption of your own consciousness, become mindful of your own friends, your own work, your own proper meditation, your own art, your own beauty, go out and make it for your own Eternity”  

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  5. My grandchildren learned to like him from our old LPs. I don’t think anyone making a documentary (even a fake one) can capture the amazement that he sparked when his songs and his vocal style were new.

    best…. mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

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