What does A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall mean?

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Bob Dylan: A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall Meaning

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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...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Jan 28th, 2007 1:34pm report


    So this song could have many meanings, but someone requested it.

    "A hard rain" conjures images of a storm that will destroy everything, wash everything clean. Make of it what you will.

    The "blue-eyed son" of this narrative symbolizes the youth of the world who see the wrongs committed and realize that it is wrong and will lead to destruction. Some of the things he sees include a preoccupation with violence "guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children", a suffering of the masses, racism ("a white man who walked a black dog"), maybe patriarchy? ("I met a young woman who's body was burning"), etc. It should also be noted that he sees good things, such as a "young girl who gave me a rainbow" (perhaps symbolizing the movements during that time period like the flower children or the anti-war movements).

    He seems to be point out that large masses of people are suffering, victims of the power structures and the institutions these structures control. "Where the people are many and their hands are empty, Where the pellets of poison are flooding the 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". He wants to reach out to these people before it's too late, and he sees a "hard rain" coming, a sense of change that will shake the very roots of civilization (like an allusion to the Flood in Bibical times).



  2.  

    Teluogirl
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    Jan 12th, 2018 1:06am report


    Stop trying to "interpret " these words. Just think of this song as a shower for your mind and soul. We accumulate all this dirt,grease and pain from the mass media,political lies and horrors we are forced to witness daily. Let Bob Dylan's powerful poetry pour over you and wake you up.
    He gives us "a rainbow."



  3.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 18th, 2017 12:03am report


    The motivation and inspiration for this song was the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. And with nuclear war looming, it excoriates those people and institutions that not only allow war to happen but also profit from it.

    It was not about the Vietnam War since it had not yet entered the consciousness of the American people. Vietnam didn't become an issue until around 1967 or so. Likewise, it's unlikely that there are references to flower children or flower power since this movement didn't begin until later in the decade.



  4.  

    Nettythe1st
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    Jun 24th, 2017 6:05am report


    I would say 'hard rain' depicts napalm and that the song is about a father talking to his son about his experiences serving in the Vietnam War upon his return. This song was written in 1962 and the USA started backing South Vietnam in the conflict in November 1955. So the timing fits. Bob Dylan was 21 at the time of writing this song. His friends would have been called up for military service. Several of Bob Dylan's songs were about civil rights and he is clearly referring to the injustices of war. Apparently, Bob Dylan would not discuss the meaning of this song. I'm guessing the meaning I am suggesting would have been considered unpatriotic by some Americans.



  5.  

    kooljohn176
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    Nov 22nd, 2015 11:56pm report


    Yes, you can say in some way this song by Bob Dylan [Robert Zimmerman] became prophetic to the people after experiencing the frighting times during this period with the Cuban president Fidel Castro and our American president John F. Kennedy that got themselves in crisis with the Russian nuclear missiles that could've went nuclear on all of us, thank God they did not, but sadly not to long after these crisis our pres. John F. Kennedy was assasinated [sacrificed] that was followed by many many tears that came down as a hard hard rain on us that slowly pushed us head long into the cultural Marxism of terrorism that was beginning to capture our young children to de-Christianized them away from family falues and to alien them in doing they own thing that also turned into a cultural pessimism in our youth and society that was breaking apart.



  6.  

    totham
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    Aug 25th, 2015 8:21am report


    This one is to easy. 'Rain' is a poetic reference to the lies and tyranny from the elite, the false churches, false prophets...government, the'military/industrial complex'. I. E.: any entity that lies (rain = lies) to you.
    Doesn't matter what the rest of the song is about, it's a call, a cry...to the sheep...wake the heck up is what Bob is singing about. See also lyrics to: when the rain comes, beatles. Who'll stop the rain, CCR. Many more, enough said.
    T high out,but I'd like to thank the band and I hope I passed the audition.



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 29th, 2015 6:56am report


    I saw him in an interview and was asked about the meaning of this song. He said the skies were dark and it looked like it was gonna rain hard. No hidden meaning.



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 29th, 2014 9:56am report


    I'd say he'd been experimenting with illegal substances when he wrote it.



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 27th, 2014 6:27pm report


    It is about a young man in a small town

    seeing jobs lost peoples lives lost

    about a man facinfg depression and fear

    and yet their is the will for stength to face the world around him



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 21st, 2013 12:40pm report


    My guess.
    This song is about a left leaning revolution, overthrowing what he thought were evil capitalist Christian dominated systems.
    The "blue eyed son", is the privileged white wasp who dominates the world circa 1962. He who starts wars and is a racist and subjugates the weak and the meek etc etc.
    1962 there is still Jim crow in the south and all the civil right protest etc.

    Look at it from a left/Jewish perspective a mere 15 years or so from the holocaust.
    I am guessing this based on the times he grew up and who he hung out with(pete seeger etc).
    He is saying look "wasp" look at what you have wrought etc.
    I am not saying I agree with the thoughts, just saying I think this is what he means by the songs.
    It also might explain why he is so coy in explaining it's meaning all these years later.



  11.  

    joseph.hester.7
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    Jan 15th, 2013 1:40pm report


    I think it means that all these things are happenning in the world, and its going to come to a head, and something is going to happen, maybe something that will wipe the slate clean and start all over



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 24th, 2012 9:10am report


    Its a song of hope in youth, and aplea to the people to fight injustices before they go even further. Its a fearless naming of the injustices he sees and encouragement on others to go out and fight them, it was inspired by anti racist and war movements of the time probly but signalled a large scale movement in the west to fight injustices that has blossomed into massive protest groups and ngos.



  13.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 1st, 2012 2:17am report


    The new born baby surrounded by wolves was Ho Chi Mins new Republic Of Vietnam and the wolves was all the countries that wanted to fill The void France left when they pulled out. And by the way, U.S. military advisors were in Vietnam in the late 50 s doing just that.



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 1st, 2011 7:48am report


    heard the first explanation years ago about cuban Missile Crisis and yada yadayada. its just something Dylan said to get an interviewer off his back anyone who was into following Dylan (a bit too closely) knows he didn't give a straight interview ever. This song is one of my favorites and I think it means whatever you get out of it. Like Dylan's two or three, depending on how you think, surrealistic folk-rock albums, Dylan now is blown away by what he wrote...it just came through him. It took 40 years for me to find out he felt a lot like other WRITERS , poets, songwriters whatever at times feel; when you write something you know is special it feels like you are taking dictation from somewhere else. the words just come to you. I've experienced this myself. for example somewhere in No Direction Home, the film,Dylan plainly explains this. My generation had a lot of us wondering what Dylan meant and the whole time he didn't even know. Its good poetry, not the protest stuff, but "Hard Rain" "chimes of 'Freedom" and the 5t, 6th Dylan album`and maybe Blonde on Blonde songs, though I see a big dropoff on that one.



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 26th, 2011 6:38pm report


    It's God, talking to Jesus. BUT, He WON'T sink!



  16.  

    anonymous
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    May 20th, 2011 5:47pm report


    I tried for years to figure out what a "hard rain" could possibly mean...way back when you couldn't ask a computer.
    Then one day it just came to me that the hard rain is bombs falling from the sky.



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