Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (Audio)

Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
And 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

[Chorus]
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-going to fall

[Verse 2]
Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
And 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 dripping
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleeding
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

[Chorus]
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-going to fall

[Verse 3]
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 that roared out a warning
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazing
I heard ten-thousand whispering and nobody listening
I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughing
I heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
I heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley

[Chorus]
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-going to fall

[Verse 4]
Oh, what did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
And 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 who her 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 in hatred

[Chorus]
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-going to fall

[Verse 5]
And what will you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what will you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-going back out ’fore the rain starts a-falling
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest dark 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
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where the souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it, and speak it, and think it, and breathe it
And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinking
But I’ll know my song well before I start singing

[Chorus]
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-going to fall

Image result for Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” is a song written by Bob Dylan in the summer of 1962. It was first recorded in Columbia Records‘ Studio A on December 6, 1962, for his second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The lyrical structure is based on the question and answer form of traditional ballads such as “Lord Randall“. Dylan has stated that all of the lyrics were taken from the initial lines of songs that “he thought he would never have time to write.”[1]

Analysis

On September 22, 1962, Dylan appeared for the first time at Carnegie Hall as part of an all-star hootenanny.[2][3] His three-song set marked the first public performance of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,”[4] a complex and powerful song built upon the question-and-answer refrain pattern of the traditional British ballad “Lord Randall“, published by Francis Child.

One month later, on October 22, U.S. President John F. Kennedy appeared on national television to announce the discovery of Soviet missiles on the island of Cuba, initiating the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the sleeve notes on the Freewheelin’ album, Nat Hentoff would quote Dylan as saying that he wrote “A Hard Rain” in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis:[5] “Every line in it is actually the start of a whole new song. But when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn’t have enough time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one.”

In actuality, Dylan had written the song more than a month before the crisis broke. Nevertheless, the song remained relevant through the years because of its broader message: the imagery suggests injustice, suffering, rising seas, pollution and warfare. Folk singer Pete Seeger interpreted the line “When the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison” as referring to when a young person suddenly wants to leave his home, but then qualified that by saying, “People are wrong when they say ‘I know what he means.'”[6]

While some have suggested[7] that the refrain of the song refers to nuclear fallout, Dylan disputes that this was a specific reference. In a radio interview with Studs Terkel in 1963, Dylan said:

“No, it’s not atomic rain, it’s just a hard rain. It isn’t the fallout rain. I mean some sort of end that’s just gotta happen … In the last verse, when I say, ‘the pellets of poison are flooding the waters,’ that means all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers.”[8]

In No Direction HomeMartin Scorsese‘s documentary on Dylan, the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg talks about the first time he heard Dylan’s music:

“When I got back from India, and got to the West Coast, there’s a poet, Charlie Plymell – at a party in Bolinas — played me a record of this new young folk singer. And I heard “Hard Rain,” I think. And wept. ‘Cause it seemed that the torch had been passed to another generation. From earlier bohemian, or Beat illumination. And self-empowerment.”[9]

Author Ian MacDonald described “A Hard Rain” as one of the most idiosyncratic protest songs ever written.[10]

Live performance

Although Dylan may have first played the song to friends, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” was formally premiered at Carnegie Hall on September 22, 1962, as part of a hootenanny organized by Pete Seeger. Seeger recalled: “I had to announce to all the singers, ‘Folks, you’re gonna be limited to three songs. No more. ‘Cause we each have ten minutes apiece.’ And Bob raised his hand and said, ‘What am I supposed to do? One of my songs is ten minutes long.'”[11]

Dylan featured the song regularly in concerts in the years since he premiered it, and there have been several dramatic performances. An October 1963 performance at Carnegie Hall was released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home, while another New York City performance, recorded one year later, appeared on The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964, Concert at Philharmonic Hall. Dylan performed the song in August 1971 at The Concert for Bangladesh, organized by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar. The concert was organized for East Pakistan refugee relief (now independent Bangladesh) after the 1970 Bhola cyclone and during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. On December 4, 1975, at the Forum de Montreal, Canada,[12] Dylan recorded an upbeat version of the song, which appears on The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue album. On May 23, 1994, Dylan performed the song at “The Great Music Experience” festival in Japan, backed by a 90-piece symphony orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen.[13] At the end of 2007, Dylan recorded a new version of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” exclusively for Expo Zaragoza 2008 world fair, scheduled to open on June 8, 2008, to highlight the Expo theme of “water and sustainable development”. As well as choosing local-band Amaral to record a version of the song in Spanish, Dylan’s new version ended with a few spoken words about his “being proud to be a part of the mission to make water safe and clean for every human being living in this world.”[14][15] Patti Smith performed the song with orchestral accompaniment at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony on December 10, 2016, to commemorate Dylan receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature. Dylan did not attend the ceremony to accept the award.[16]

Covers

Image result for Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

Bob Weir and Phil Lesh performed it on their Bobby and Phil DuoTour at Radio City Music Hall , New York City, March2, 2018.

Other media

Photographer Mark Edwards took a series of photographs illustrating the lyrics of the song which were exhibited in many locations such as the United Nations headquarters. These were published in a book in 2006.[20][21]

 

 

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