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The Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan

Sometimes I feel sorry for the youth of today. There is pretty much nothing out there that their parents would be really afraid of. In the fifties and especially the sixties, most of what was on offer from the world of rock was a threat to their values, and to the established hierarchy. Since then there have been brief moments where the musical heroes of the young have represented a real threat to the older generation: punk surely, the goths, generation x for a smidgeon, and early rap. But for the most part, no sooner is someone successful, than they become a part of the modern media establishment, selling products, joining in the the "bread and circus" Hollywood style celebrity glitz.

The sexually gyrating Elvis was an early threat, followed by the black rock and rollers who attracted the young white kids in the states. Then the Beatles were scary, guys with attitude with working class regional accents, followed by the Stones whose sultry projected image was of a load of scruffs who not only would fuck your daughters given half a chance, but probably already had.

But the person who really scared the shit out of my parents' generation was Bob Dylan. Not only was he good looking (in that dangerous baby-faced kind of way), he was political, intelligent to the point of being intellectual, and he directly challenged the status quo.

When Dylan's music arrived in Britain he was definitely a folk singer, which in those days was a minority sport in the UK, but anyone who knew anything about American folk new that it was the repository of commies like the Weavers. The fact that, in the form of a young Dylan, it was gaining traction amongst British youth was in itself an alarming development. And his message in "The Times They Are A-Changin'", his first UK top ten hit, was an unmistakable warning to anyone above 30, made all the more potent by his voice, desolate, nasal, like an old testament prophet crying out a message of doom in the wilderness.

For youngsters today, it's hard to understand the fear that these words invoked amongst the establishment of 1965:

"Come mothers and fathers throughout the land

and don't criticise what you can't understand

your sons and your daughters are beyond your command

your old road is rapidly ageing

please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand

for the times they are a-changin'...."


".....the order is rapidly fading

and the first one now will later be last

for the times they are a-changin'."

We need a modern equivalent in these troubled times today.

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