Yes, the times... they are a-changin.'
First off, I’ve been in the studio making a new album for the last few months. And that’s a big, big change for me. To make a record without Joey isn’t something that I was sure I’d ever do. The fact is, I’ve never made my own record. I’ve only been part of the albums that she and I made through the years. But it's been more than 5 years since we recorded the Hymns album, and I guess it was finally just time. So, this past fall, I went into the studio with producers Ben Isaacs and Matt Johnson and some of Nashville’s greatest musicians and recorded 14 new songs. Fourteen stories that are about to become part of mine. And to say that I’m excited about it, is an understatement.
This is the first song I’m sharing from the project. It’s a little different than most of the other songs on the record, in that it has a strange timeliness to it that the others probably don’t possess. This one was written nearly 60 years ago, but it feels like it was written especially for today. For the challenging times we’re going through right now.
I wasn’t even born when Bob Dylan first released this song in 1964. It was meant to be an anthem for a time when our country was changing rapidly. For a nation that was on fire. Divided over race, free speech, politics, and many other complicated things. Just like today. A time when there was political unrest, riots in the streets, and no one knew exactly what the future held. Again, much like today.
In general, I’m one of the least political people you’ll probably meet. I don’t really read or watch much news and the things I do, are mostly local. About the community I live in and the people who are part of it. But of course, the onslaught of headlines and stories we’re all bombarded with constantly are hard to ignore, even for me.
We recorded this song back in October. Before the election. Before many of the recent events happened that have made the words Mr. Dylan wrote all those years ago, seem so profound now. For me, this is not about who’s side is right and who’s is wrong. It's about how all of this is affecting us as families. And what it is all doing to our precious children.
It’s a weird thing to be sitting here, writing about a problem, on a device that is one of the things causing a lot of the terrible angst and anxiety that is wreaking havoc on us all. I’m not sure how to rectify that, other than acknowledge it and try to personally find some balance between turning it off, and when it’s on, using it for good.
I’m a farmer and a father. A songwriter and a storyteller... and more than a bit of a romantic. I’m sentimental and nostalgic and have an unending soft spot in my heart for history and the past. I live on a farm with a one-room schoolhouse that seems lost in time and dress like I’m from another century. Still believing in the power of story and lyrics in a world of uptempo melodies and beats. Doing my best to lift up the old, the tried and true.. as I look to tomorrow, and usher in the new.
I’ll close this post with Bob’s original version of the song. With him singing it how he wrote it in 1964... in case there are folks out there who’ve not heard it, or maybe haven’t heard it in awhile. Thank you Mr. Dylan for the powerful words, and even more for the profound warning to us all.
PS... thank you to Aaron David Thomas and Heather Huston for turning the song we recorded into a powerful video—filled with neighbors and friends in our community, young and old—captured in this unusual moment in time, forever.