To Bob Dylan

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Bob Dylan

Your songs from the early years were anthems for generations to come. They are prophetic in so many ways at many different levels. They touch the complex and deep longing of the soul for a real answer, for a solution to the problems we all face, and for some deep change of heart that will fix everything that’s wrong. Your lyrics bring the ills of society and the pain and suffering of our individual lives to the surface in an instant, as soon as the sound reaches from the ears to the heart. The words beckon us to pay attention and turn our hearts to seek for the elusive dream, for the answer that’s blowin’ in the wind... in a place we haven’t yet found. You never claimed to have the answer or to lead the revolution or anything like that. You just laid it out for all to see.

In “Blowin’ in the Wind” you woke us up and made us want to do something about the indifference that does nothing about the cruelty and injustice saturating the human race. Most of the folks I knew hoped the answer was truly in the air and that it would settle in our hearts very soon. That hope was very powerfully communicated and some of us caught it! Somehow you knew that if hope for a better life in a better world dies in the human heart, evil will reign forever over the human race.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ’n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn’t see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

“Blowin' in the Wind” 1963

Your lyrics let us know that a day of reckoning is coming for all the injustice and cruelty and selfishness that fills humanity, for a world not at peace, where hatred and violence reign. You foretold the death of our planet that’s reeling on the edge of destruction, a time when “a hard rain’s gonna fall,” a time when individually and collectively we’re gonna reap what we’ve sown. It was and is a call to action before it’s too late.

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?

Oh, 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

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard,
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?

Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?

I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’

I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black 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

Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden

Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten

Where black is the color, where none is the number

And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it

And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it

Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’

But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

“It's A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall” 1963

You saw as a whole generation answered the call, started a revolution and tried to stop war and end all the violence. Where was the authority, the leader that we could follow? You inspired us into action, but you, too, didn’t find that Messiah figure, the one who truly had the authority to radically change the world and bring in an age of peace on earth. It seemed as if you knew it had to come. You saw that the Movement was aimless, like a ship without a rudder. Who was the “Tambourine Man” to play a song for us and lead the way...

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,

I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle, jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ ship,
My senses have been stripped,
my hands can’t feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step,
Wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin’.

I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade
Into my own parade
cast your dancing spell my way,
I promise to go under it.

Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle, jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.

“Mr. Tambourine Man” 1964

You saw it coming. The more we followed our own individual “Tambourine Man,” the more lost and alone we became. So you asked us this question:

How does it feel,
How does it feel,
To be without a home,
Like a complete unknown,
like a rolling stone?

“Like A Rolling Stone” 1965

But still you never gave up trying to tell us what was real and what was not. You tried to unmask the craziness of the world we sought to save...

There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”

No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke,
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

“All Along the Watchtower” 1968

After all the violence and tragedy of the 60s, including the death of our heroes, the hope we had started to wane. Where do we turn? Who do we follow now? It seemed as if you were pointing to a spiritual path... each alone, and one by one. Is that all there is? Is there something more to see? You knew there had to be hope of something real... a real Messiah, a real King who could lead us into a real kingdom. I guess you hoped that somehow, somewhere that hope would be realized, and that someday, “Any day now, [we] shall be released...” from whatever prison we found ourselves in.

They say ev’rything can be replaced,
Yet ev’ry distance is not near.
So I remember ev’ry face
Of ev’ry man who put me here.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

They say ev’ry man needs protection,
They say ev’ry man must fall.
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Some place so high above this wall.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

Standing next to me in this lonely crowd
Is a man who swears he’s not to blame.
All day long I hear him shout so loud,
Crying out that he was framed.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

“I Shall Be Released” 1961

You saw that the day was coming when masses of people were going to be looking for God, but they wouldn’t know where to find Him. You thought they were going to look to the Jews because the Jews wrote “the Book,” but they won’t know what to do. So in your search for spiritual life, you got tangled up in the Jesus Movement for a while. You wrote some songs about it, but it seems that the thrill didn’t last long. That movement was only a revolving door back into the pews of a defunct religion that can't save anybody!

Disappointment... disappointment... disappointment... one after the other as the hourglass of life empties the sand. Hope that disappoints is a very real experience, especially when it comes to the deeper dreams and aspirations of life. Disappointment with politics, with religion, with every attempt to make the world a better place to live has plagued mankind for centuries.

So, where is the hope that does NOT disappoint? It’s where the love of God has been poured out into the hearts of believers that have the same faith as Abraham (Romans 5:5) — a faith that causes a person to abandon everything, all his possessions and leave his homeland to find the place where God dwells in the hearts of His people. Disappointment comes when people don’t surrender all. They don’t have Abraham’s faith because they don’t do Abraham’s deeds (John 8:39). That’s why He can’t pour His love out in a person's heart who is like that.

If there was such a place, the people there would be living as if the Messiah had already come to set up His kingdom. They would be together and they would share a common life with each other, with no one claiming that anything they had was their own, but they shared all they had with others so there wouldn’t be a needy person among them. (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37) This way of living, which results from God’s love ruling the hearts of His people, is the only hope that does not disappoint, for this hope will lead to a demonstration of the life of the kingdom now, in this age, that will rule the earth when Messiah returns. (Matthew 24:14)

This is the hope we want you to see, because you have to see it and experience it before it can be yours. That’s why we’ve always wanted you to come on our big maroon and cream colored bus and hang out with us, or visit one of our Yellow Delis, or come to one of our places to belong, where we live, to see for yourself. The time is now. The Restoration of All Things which the prophets of long ago spoke about is coming into view. Can you hear that whistle blowin'?