Rhetoric Of Protest Songs
Rhetoric of the protest songs has a very extensive history. The oldest protest song on record is The Cutty Wren from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 against feudal oppression, nearly six hundred years ago (Songs of Work and Protest 9). Protest music has developed over the years and has made its presence in history. The protest music of Vietnam War is the concentration of this paper. The two main artists of focus are Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Their songs will be analyzed and criticized naritively.
Bob Dylan was one of the most influential musicians of the time. Dylan was born in the fine town of Duluth, Minnesota on May 24, 1941. He grew up in Hibbing, My life in a stolen minute, Dylan wrote, Hibbing’s a good ol’ town. I ran away from it when I was ten, twelve, thirteen, fifteen, fifteen and a half, seventeen an’ eighteen. I been caught an’ brought back all but once.(Dylan Songs 12). He taught himself how to play the guitar, piano, autoharp, and harmonica. Throughout his experiences he absorbed many different styles of music. Open up your eyes an’ ears an’ yer influenced an’ there’s nothing you can do about it . . . I just seem to draw into myself whatever comes my way and it comes out me.(12) He graduated from high school in Hibbing and attended the University of Minnesota for about six months than left for New York and began writing comical-satirical talking blues songs. Next, he moved into a deeper view, of the world through his protest music. Later in his career he entered the integration movement with the song Blowin in the Wind. His biography can be told through his songs, they have always reflected his thoughts, emotions, and life.
Dylan’s lyrics not only express his personal thoughts, they also relate to the people in the country, mostly the youths in the sixties, and to the soldiers that fought in the war. One of the main songs that rallies against Vietnam is A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall. The song is depicting the atmosphere and experiences of the soldier in Vietnam. My blue-eyed son symbolizes the United States soldiers in Vietnam. Each verse appears to contain a correlation to events over seas. I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken, this coincides with the numerous failed peace talks. I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children, most of the men fighting were very young, sixty-one percent of the men killed were twenty-one or younger (War Information and Statistics). I heard the sound of thunder, it roared out a warnin’ This directly refers to the massive amount of bombs being dropped. During the entire war, the United States dropped nearly eight million tons of bombs, four times the tonnage dropped during all of World War II. It is the largest display of firepower in the history of warfare (War Information and Statistics). The section of the song in which he sings of who did you meet covers the different plights the troops faced. The young innocent children that died, the racial tension between soldiers, missing their families and being consumed by hatred because of the death they were surrounded by. Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters vividly images the use of Napalm, a petroleum based anti-personnel bomb that showers hundreds of explosive pellets upon impact (War Information and Statistics). The chorus of the song, And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall is interpreted by the many men that fell to the war and lost their lives. A total of 58,202 men lost their lives in Vietnam. The most significant metaphorical phrase in this piece of rhetoric is contained in the last two verses of the song. Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’, But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’ He is telling the story of all the soldiers who understand they were going to loose their lives.
Dylan formed the song into the time sequence of the war. First he questions where they could be, Oh, where have you been, my darling young one? The question of family and friends where