Analysis of Robert Zimmerman’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”

By: Raff Steporter

Famed folk artist Robert “Bob Dylan” Zimmerman was known for his elaborate wordplay, whimsical imagery and often outlandish lyricism. Only later in his career have scholars discovered that his collective work is a cypher for an Objectivist, pro-capitalistic manifesto on scale with Ayn Rand’s masterwork, “Atlas Shrugged.” In his 1963 hit, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Zimmerman argues for a return to free market economics to reinvigorate the American dream. Selected verses are presented below with commentary.

“Yes, how many years can a mountain exist / Before it’s washed to the sea?

Yes, how many years can some people exist / Before they’re allowed to be free?”

Zimmerman sets up a call-and-response first asking the question on the life of

mountains. The number of years, exactly 186, not so coincidentally corresponds to the age of the United States of America at the time of writing the song, 186 years. The second phrase then clearly is a call to action for the separation of reality and consciousness to free the American public from the wretches of big government and instead achieve personal liberty prescribed by the tenets of laissez-faire capitalism.

“Yes, how many times must a man look up / Before he can see the sky?

Yes, how many ears must one man have / Before he can hear people cry?”

It is a undeniable fact that skyscrapers, a product of capitalism, have blocked out the sky in most major cities. Thus, the number of times a “man” must look up to see the sky approaches infinity as the number of skyscrapers increases and thus the number of ears a “man” needs to hear the screams of the oppressed masses approaches infinity as their calls for help are silenced by big government and denied the fundamental human right to explore rational self-interest rather than the collectivist follies of Karl Marx’s socialist establishment.

Returning to the title of the piece, it becomes clear that “Blowin’ in the Wind” advocates for revolt, not only against the likes of Big Brother, but also corporate greed. Some say “Blowin in the Wind” is a song protesting war and poverty, but that is obviously a bit of a stretch.

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