Blog post 9/11

Joan Baez sings Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind” in the youtube video that you watched for class. Each lyric line is written in the interrogative form, or, if you prefer, is written as a question. These questions are known as “rhetorical devices,” because Baez asks a question that does not require an answer but implies her opinion in the form of the question. Pick one line from the song and interpret that line. What does Joan Baez imply when singing that particular line?

15 comments on “Blog post 9/11

  1. Z says:

    The line “Yes, how many times can a man turn his head, Pretending he just doesn’t see ?” means people used to deny the fact that cannot be accepted by themselves even though the fact is interpreted in front of his eyes. Singing this particular line, Joan Baez implies that there obviously are considerable amount of social problems in the United States that prevents us to realize a ideal and equal society. More specifically, although the animosity towards the inequality in the United States is extremely strong, most of people tend to ignore it—“pretending he just doesn’t see”. I assume that the singer wanted people to encounter the dilemma together and resolve the problem together.

  2. Robbie Katz says:

    The line “how many deaths will it take till he knows, that too many people have died?” brings to light the shortcomings of human nature. In our society people always feel that things are going to get better. It is very hard for people to turn in and analyze what is going on in the present. Only after things get really bad is when people start to realize that something needs to be done. However, by then it is usually too late and large tole has already been taken. Joan Baez is implying that even though tons of people are constantly being killed nothing is being done. She illustrates how bad the situation has become by understating the extremity of death. By making it seem that death is not a big deal further proves her point. It is not something that people should be used to as a normal every day event.

  3. Monica Poleway says:

    The line, “Yes, how many years can some people exist, Before they’re allowed to be free?,” can refer to slavery. Joan Baez, tries to bring up a point about freedoms in the United States as well as around the world. If everyone is considered equal why is not everyone free. In this example specifically, Baez brings up a point about civil rights in the United States. When this song was written there was social inequalities for many different groups of people who lived in the United States. “Before, they’re allowed to be free?,” implies Baez wants people to understand the consequences for their actions towards others suggest. Though slavery had been out-lawed for years before this song was written, black citizens were still not as free as white citizens. Baez is making people aware the long struggle black citizens specifically faced,”How many years can some people exist.”

  4. Tony Huang says:

    The line, “How many years must the cannon balls fly before they’re forever banned?” expressed the anti-war sentiment of Baze. I found out that Baze song this song during the Vietnam War. She implies that the war should be prevented forever. I think the word “must” is pretty interesting. Maybe she tried to criticize the American government in an ironic way. For the U.S. government claimed that the war was really necessary when they started. She also tried to raise the public’s awareness in order to give pressure to the government. That’s about my understanding of that line.

  5. Lyons Li says:

    The line “how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry” implies that the US government ignored the voice of its people. Bob Dylan wrote this song in 1962, which the Vietnam War was happening. While the “humane” army was fighting in Asia, an intensely anti-war emotion raised in the USA. People were despaired by the death of their fathers, sons and husbands; the government spent more and more budget on the weapon and conscription. Many students went to protest march. Some adult man escaped to Canada to avoid serving in the army. However, the congress did not hear people’s opinion. There were hundreds of US congress man, but they did not have enough ears to hear people’s voice. We can feel Baze’s anger and disappointment when she used the rhetorical question to ask the congress. She was invoking the US government to pay attention to what US people felt and said.

  6. danmann7 says:

    The line, “Yes, how many ears must one man have
    Before he can hear people cry ?” is probably a reference to higher-ups in government during Bob Dylan’s time. Bob Dylan wrote this in a very rebellious time full of protests, hippies and war. For many protesters it seemed that the government wasn’t listening to their cries for peace and change, shown in this line metaphorically by asking how many ears these men need to actually hear their protesting and actually take action. This is related to the next line, asking how many deaths it will take for them to notice as well. The line implies that if the men had more ears they could possibly finally hear the cries of the people and do something about it. Dylan probably hoped that the politicians would listen to this song and realize that things needed to change.

  7. Rafe Mosetick says:

    I chose the line , “How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?”. I believe when she sings this line she is talking about segregation in America. The some people she was referring to are African Americans who lived in our country. Even though they existed they were not always considered real Americans. Being an American has a connotation of freedom or in other words being free. I believe that by writing this line she is implying that she is against segregation in America. Which important because during this time in America many white individuals wouldn’t often openly express their beliefs on segregation. Also, I believe that she is implying that until one is given full rights they are not considered free.

  8. Will Adams says:

    Joan Baez asks, “And how many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see the answer?” This rhetorical device questions the leadership and integrity of mankind. During the 1960’s, it took real courage to interject one’s own opinion regarding racism. She implies that most citizens know right from wrong, but only a select few stand up for what is right, rather than for what is easy. Yet some skeptics may challenge my view by insisting that not all Americans are affected by racism because of the separation of classes. Even though prejudice may not affect someone directly, it is one’s moral responsibility to act out for the common good of society. In return, this will fix the problem of racism along with the issue concerning human equality.

  9. Melody Carter says:

    I interpret Bob Dylan’s line, “Yes how many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn’t see,” as bringing up the issue of inequality in the United States. More importantly, by saying, “pretending he just doesn’t see,” Dylan is referring to the fact that most citizens who do not have to deal with the lower end of inequality are ignoring the issue that is spreading amongst the population in this time period. Everyone is aware of the problem; however, no one cares enough to act upon it. Although Dylan does not use his lyrics to directly say that he disapproves of the unfair inequality in the country, he gives the impression of feeling this way by using rhetorical devices.

  10. jchun48 says:

    All of the rhetorical questions the artist, Joan Baez states in this song, are structured the same: she first states a very common behavior, followed by what should be natural response. In the very first line of the song, “How many roads must a man walk down, Before you call him a man,” Baez once again implies that walking down roads is a common behavior of men, yet many have not accepted a particular man as a man even though he walks down that same road just as other men have. Through this first question, Baez relates to the mistreatment of blacks during this time period; however, I believe she wants to say more than just the obvious. She talks about doves, which have been known to symbolize peace and love, in the very next line and she goes on further and sings about cannons, which symbolizes war. Baez speaks not only about injustice according to race but also about striving for peace and ending war.

  11. Abby says:

    When Joan Baez sings the song title “the answer is blowin’ in the wind,” she summarizes the meaning of the song. There are no solidified answers to the questions of war and peace, racism, and general hatred towards another group that is different from those around them. During Bob Dylan’s folk-rock era, he wrote many anti-war songs and this song is a great example of his protest. The Vietnam War allowed people in America to see the horrors of war through media for the first time. The gruesome photographs no longer made war patriotic and Bob Dylan, and later Joan Baez, commented on how much destruction war could cause. However, the worst part was that war grew out of hatred for a different society and a different way of living. The citizens in America would rather turn their heads, ignore the casualties, and metaphorically speaking, let the wind blow by. The wind carries answers and only those who are willing to stand in the wind can formulate solutions to decrease war and the fear of others.

  12. Aamina Ahmad says:

    Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” is an accurate depiction of folk music in the 1960’s. Around this time, folk music was revived but with a new spin. Instead of representing the ideas of the people as a whole, it was rather vague and represented the individual ideas of the artist. In “Blowing in the Wind,” sung by Joan Baez, the lyrics consist of a range of questions. One of the questions Joan asks is “how many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?” When Joan says this she implies that it is about time that all people be free. Around the time the song was written, the Folk Protest Movement was a great influence on Bob Dylan. The Folk Protest Movement was a large advocator of racial equality, which must have rubbed off onto Dylan and thus have been reflected in his song.

  13. Haoyue Ma says:

    When singing the particular line “Yes, how many years can some people exist. Before they’re allowed to be free? ”, Joan Baez implies that there are some people spending most life under oppression and inequality or even never getting freedom and any respects while alive. Usage of word “Exist” also implicitly demonstrates servility status of people without freedom and rights. Like Lomax said “Folk music could be put ‘to link the people who were voiceless and who have no way to tell their story, with the big mainstream of world culture.’” , Joan Baez implies the imparity existing in society in 1963 and represents these people to tell their stories and the voices.

  14. Naeem says:

    Baez sings, “Yes, how many ears must one have/ Before he can hear people cry?” With these words, Bob Dylan—the lyricist of the song—implies that it is about time for social changes to occur. Problems such as lack of equality still exist in the United, and it is about time people realize the situation. Dylan uses this rhetorical device to criticize the government: he says that, while many citizens are crying in pain due to inequality, the government as well as the white citizens are oblivious to this fact. According to Dylan, the government is absolutely indifferent, showing no reaction to the discrimination faced by the black citizens. Dylan hopes to bring these cries to the government’s attention.

  15. Dalila Vazquez says:

    By singing “Blowin in the wind”, Joan Baez protests against things such as war, slavery, indifference, etc. For instance, we can see her implied opinion in the first line of the song: “How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?” Although this line can be interpreted in many ways, I think she implies the struggle that some people have to go through before being treated equally. Things such as discrimination and prejudice prevent equality. Calling someone a man means being called human, so treating someone with dignity is calling that person a human (a man). So she asks how many more struggles must a person go through before you can treat that person just like yourself?

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