The 1960's ~ Bob Dylan

How did life in the 1960's affect Bob Dylan's music?

By: Anna

Period: A2

Overview of what was going on in the 1960's:

During the 1960's, several events took place, however, the two major events were the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.


To start off, during the Civil Rights Movement African Americans had to face racism, oppression, and segregation pretty much every day. The people of this race were banned from entering classrooms, bathrooms, theaters, train cars, and from juries and legislators. Due to this difference of equality between the blacks and whites, civil rights activists arose. African Americans and activists/advocates participated in protests to fight for equal rights. Eventually, in 1965 the Voting Rights Act occurred and then blacks could vote. Also, the there was another act called the Civil Rights Act which was meant to make discrimination illegal. More activists began to stand up for rights too, such as Martin Luther King Junior, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Andrew Goodman, and many others. An example of the opposition to unjust people was the bus boycott in Montgomery Alabama. Rosa Parks was sitting on the bus one day when a white person demanded that she give her seat up. When she refused to do so, she was sent to jail. However, ever since that day, people had begun to do the same thing Rosa Parks had and it lasted for almost a year. Not that long after, King opposed the unjust ways of unequal rights and gave his famous "I have a dream" speech that explained that everyone needs to be equal. Following this, many more protests for equality occurred after the role models of equality spoke up.



History.com Staff. "Civil Rights Movement." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 01 Jan. 2009. Web. 12 May 2016.



Another major event that was in the 1960's was the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War started in 1954 after Ho Chi Minh rose to power along with his communist Viet Minh party in North Vietnam. Northern Vietnam fought against Southern Vietnam and their ally (American military) who had joined in to help Southern Vietnam. The actual cause of the Vietnam War was uncertain yet this war continued for a long period of time and in 1969, at least 500,000 Americans were involved in the fight and around three million people were killed. In 1973, Richard Nixon took the USA soldiers back and then in 1975 communists gained control over Saigon which ended the war.


History.com Staff. "Vietnam War History." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 01 Jan. 2009. Web. 12 May 2016.

Why is the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War still important today?

Civil Rights Movement:


The Civil Rights Movement is still important today due to the fact that it caused such a big change in the world. It was the start of a new world since people were fighting for equality then, and they still fight for it today.


Vietnam War:

The Vietnam War is also still important today because it was one of the longest and most devestating wars ever. The memory of it has not died and the soldiers courage that fought in the war has not been forgotten either.

Brief overview as to who Bob Dylan is:

Bob Dylan, a folk rock singer that was born on May 24th, 1941, started his career as a musician in the early 1960's. Bob Dylan's music was influenced by other musicians such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. Later on in his life when the start of his music kicked off, he began protesting in his songs for the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.


"Bob Dylan." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <http://www.biography.com/people/bob-dylan-9283052#folk-singing>.

How does the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War connect to Bob Dylan's music?

The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War drastically affected Bob Dylan's music. During the 1960's, Bob Dylan wrote a various amount of protest songs for the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. For example, in his song 'Masters of War', he protested against the Vietnam War by saying, "You that never done nothin’/ But build to destroy, You play with my world/ Like it’s your little toy/ You put a gun in my hand/ And you hide from my eyes/ And you turn and run farther/ When the fast bullets fly." Bob Dylan was quite clearly aggravated by the Vietnam war based off of this statement. Clearly, the Vietnam War had caused him to write this song because it was released in 1963 (around the time of the Vietnam War). In other words, if the Vietnam War never occurred, Bob Dylan would never have written this music and would never have protested in his songs for the Vietnam War. It can also be inferred that the Vietnam War caused him to sing with more aggression in his music because this event angered him and he felt that he needed to join along in the fight by singing. Not only had the war affected Bob Dylan's music, but the Civil Rights Movement had also. For instance, another one of his songs 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll' explains how a black woman was murdered by a wealthy tobacco farmer named William Zanzinger. This man went to jail for just 6 moths and then was released soon after. Despite the fact that he had killed a woman, he was released very quickly from jail. This sparked anger inside Bob Dylan like the Vietnam War had before, so, he wrote this song to protest and speak up for our rights. Therefore, the Civil Rights Movement affected Bob Dylan's music because he was inspired to protest in his songs for people's rights. The Civil Rights Movement also caused Bob Dylan to sing more aggressively like the Vietnam War had because he wanted to communicate the anger that he had inside through his songs. Lastly, Bob Dylan has written another song that was affected by the Civil Rights Movement called "Oxford Town". In this song, Bob Dylan sings about the discrimination that we have and how it is unjust. This can also be assumed to be affected by the Civil Rights Movement because that period was when everybody was fighting for rights, which most likely inspired Bob Dylan to do the same by writing songs. In conclusion, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War are both responsible for some of Bob Dylan's music because these events caused Bob Dylan to have more aggressive sounding music, and also they affected his music because he began to protest in his songs.
Bob Dylan Image: Bob Dylan. Digital image. Biography.com. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://a5.files.biography.com/image/upload/c_fill,cs_srgb,dpr_1.0,g_face,h_300,q_80,w_300/MTE5NTU2MzE2MjA4OTg5NzA3.jpg>.
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More protest songs from Bob Dylan:

'A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall'

'With God on Our Side'

'Hurricane'

'Chimes of Freedom'

'Maggie's Farm'

'The Times They are a-Changin'


Harks, Becky Sherrick. "Top 10 Bob Dylan Protest Songs." Ultimate Classic Rock. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016.


Music Image:


Songs. Digital image. Www.grandparents.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016. <https://d1hekt5vpuuw9b.cloudfront.net/assets/article/170eb4b7a840c22a38e084e547d3bf82_songs-rhymes-universal-lede-580x326_featuredImage.jpg>.

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Bob Dylan:


Bob Dylan. Digital image. Http://www.purehoneymagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/dylan.jpg. N.p., n.d. Web