Song of the Day: Bob Dylan – Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

Happy birthday wishes go out to Bob Dylan, who turns 75 years old today. This song is the introduction many music listeners have had to Dylan over the years, even though it doesn’t mean what they think it means. After its release, Dylan responded to criticism of the song being a “drug song” by saying “I have never and never will write a ‘drug song.'” He offered a more confusing explanation later in 1966, saying “Well, you know my songs are all mathematical songs. Now, you know what that means so I’m not gonna have to go into that specifically here. It happens to be a protest song. …and it borders on the mathematical, you know, idea of things, and this one specifically happens to be … Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 happens to deal with a minority of, you know, cripples and Orientals and, uh, you know, and the world in which they live,…. It’s another sort of a North Mexican kind of a thing, uh, very protesty. Very, very protesty. And, uh, one of the protestiest of all things I ever protested against in my protest years…”

In 2012, Dylan alluded to a biblical meaning behind the song, stating in an interview with Rolling Stone “These are people that aren’t familiar with the Book of Acts.” As points out, the Book of Acts says the following about stoning: “Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God… And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

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In spite of all that, people will surely continue to interpret the song as a battle cry to get high. The song recently turned 50 years old as it was recorded on March 11, 1966, and it’ll probably still be played for 50 more, or as long as people enjoy getting elevated.


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