In January 1964, Bob Dylan released his third album The Times They Are a-Changin. Among the ten tracks on the album, was the title track, which spoke to the changing times in society, especially when it came to social change, and at a time where Dylan was still known as a protest singer.
According to Dylan during a 1985 interview with Cameron Crowe, the song was influenced by the course Irish and Scottish ballads, some of which would have notable lines such as “come all ye bold highway men” and “come all ye tender hearted maidens.” Dylan would put a modern spin on the concept, reflecting on the relationships between the civil rights movement and the folk music movement, which was usually allied together.
“The Times They Are a-Changin” was released as a single in the UK, where it reached number nine on the charts. It never became a single in America, yet it quickly became a heavily covered song, with twelve versions performed throughout the 1960s, including those from Peter, Paul & Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, and Nina Simone. The song would also see covers from later artists including Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, and Billy Joel. Since it’s release, the song have become a staple in Dylan’s concerts, and most importantly became one of the most influential songs of all time, credited to help shape rock and roll during the 1960s.