Thursday, February 11, 2010


In his first performance at the White House, Bob Dylan played a slow, soulful version of "The Times They Are a-Changin'" for the First Family. The occasion? "A Celebration of Music From the Civil Rights Movement." Dylan was joined by a stellar cast of performers, including Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson, Joan Baez, John Mellencamp, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Natalie Cole, and Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon.

This song still carries the hopes and dreams of the sixties Movement in every note, but Dylan isn't the strident firebrand he once was. Obviously he's older--who isn't?--and his voice is weathered and rough, and it carries the years in its grainy honesty. Dylan was just twenty-two when he wrote the song back in 1964, already wise beyond his years, and he's lived several lifetimes since and sounds even wiser now.

Bob Dylan in Greenwood, Mississippi, 1963, at a gathering sponsored by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization conducting a voter registration drive among African Americans throughout the Deep South.

For the complete White House show, courtesy of PBS, please click here.

No comments: