The Music of
Thomas E. Peterson
The Story Behind a Song

        The song "Blue-eyed Boy," came to be one morning, while I was getting my day started. On this particular morning, ritualistically drinking coffee, I listened to the old album, "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." I consider this as one of Bob's best, due to the complex and diverse nature in its content. Its content has a direct connection to social issues of importance. I believe it remains equally important today as it was on the day of its release. That selection of songs still resonates strongly in me. I will add here that if you have never experienced this album, go out and gain a copy of it for your own listening experience, as doing so could be equally as moving to you. Having listened to the first five songs, "Blowin' in the Wind," "Girl From the North Country," "Masters of War," "Down the Highway," and "Bob Dylan's Blues," one of my favorites began, "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall." As is normal for me, that song fully grabbed my attention. Its lyric still hits me with a forcefulness near un-matched. He captures nearly every aspect of that interface between individuals and our modern society. After having hearing "Blowin' in the Wind," and "Masters of War," these lyrics drew my thoughts toward the muse. There is true horror written into those lyrics. They express the conditions commonly witnessed and or, otherwise known to all of us. My own disgust and contempt in the understanding that these same conditions yet exist, jumped out into clear thought. Upon conclusion of the song's final line, I was driven to shut off the music to allow these thoughts a space to grow. I then opened a word-processor to begin writing out the thoughts. "That blue-eyed boy came singin', is a direct reference to Bob, and the first line I wrote.

Thoughts of Billy Holiday's, "Strange Fruit," also enter these lyrics. The extreme image this song begins with is, one of a person being unlawfully hung, left there hanging for all to see, a condition that causes an internal rage easily dealt with through escapism. The chemical substances, in this case is whiskey. "I saw him hangin' in the tree. He was blowin' in the breeze, now I am down here on my knees, won't you give me whiskey, please." The speaker is begging from bended knee, I have seen a horrific sight. It is a sight that only whiskey can remove from my consciousness, if only for a brief time.

This is then followed up with the introduction of Bob, "That blue-eyed boy came singin', about inequality, and that was way back in 1963." That is a long time from now, fifty years. Yet the conditions of inequality remain nearly as unresolved and oppressive today as they were when Bob wrote it. The song goes on to state that this condition remains today. People have died attempting to overcome this same kind of injustice through our history. These people are identified as "souls out flying in the night." It then attempts at clarifying for the listener that this fight remains and we as a people must strive through involvement to change the conditions allowing racism to remain in our society.

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