In 1964 I was a dweeby high school freshman when I first heard the song I’ll put into this post, in two versions. I’m sure that the first time I heard the song it wasn’t the version done by the originator, Bob Dylan. I have always been in awe of the creations of Bob Dylan. His wordsmithing abilities that were so much a part of the core of my generation, Baby Boomers. His Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 was well deserved and there can be no history of events that occurred in his lifetime that do not include his music, his lyrics.
I have always had a central belief that people are people. Borders, nationalities, races or political systems do not change what defines a human being. Everywhere on the surface of the Earth human beings want to live a decent life with their families. Have a roof over your head, food and water, the ability to sustain your life and the life of your family. To advance the lives of your children and create a system that insures that they can live a good life with their families. Also, as the words of Bob Dylan so eloquently described another thing that everyone everywhere wants…….FREEDOM.
In the timeframe of the writing of today’s song, my generation had lived through the assassination of a President. We had seen on our TV screens fellow citizens beaten, bombed, murdered, lynched and dehumanized. The country slept through the beginnings of a war, a phony war sold to the country in a series of deceptions and outright lies, that would take the lives of more than 60,000 Americans, mostly fellow Baby Boomers. And, don’t forget the lives of civilians in the war zone.
I’m not sure how many have guessed the Dylan song so I’ll throw in the original version that I heard. And although I have heard many, many versions of the song, the one first heard by me still is The One. I have no delusions of pontificating on what Dylan meant when he wrote those words and put them to music. I do know what the words, the song no matter who performs it, mean to me.
The Chimes of Freedom, to me, represent the soul of both human beings and the United States. The words speak to empathy, sympathy, compassion…….the traits that define the human spirit. That we are all much, much more the same than we acknowledge. On another level, they represent what the United States has represented to the world for decades. With all our warts, all the mistakes made, the United States is what defines Freedom to the rest of the world. Where people are oppressed, or living in poverty, “yearning to be free” people may not know specifically Dylan’s words but they do have a vision of The Chimes of Freedom and I hope they always do. I am proud that our country has carried the torch of freedom and tried, sometimes in misguided ways, to spread the light of freedom around the world.
Now a little more updated, multi media version of The Chimes of Freedom. Listen and then ask yourself a few questions. How did it become accepted for the primary protector of The Chimes of Freedom to mock a disabled man? To show disdain towards a man who while risking his life for his vision of The Chimes of Freedom spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison? To denigrate entire races and nationalities? Religions? To fail to speak out against people marching with Nazi flags, chanting Nazi slogans, in the streets of a US college town?
This won’t be my last revisit to some of the songs that have hit me, moved me, taken me back to earlier times. I find myself as a Baby Boomer deep in the fourth quarter of the game of life wondering what our generational legacy will be. What will we leave for our children, our grandchildren, our grandchildren’s grandchildren? Will enough people wake up in time to restore sanity to our world before The Chimes of Freedom are extinguished?