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Chimes of Freedom

(„Another Side Of Bob Dylan”, 1964 Columbia)
słowa i muzyka: Bob Dylan
( C  G7  C F - F9 C G7 C )
                C                       G7              C                            F - F9

Far between sundown's finish an' midnight's broken toll

         C                            G7                           C

We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing

            C                    G7                  C                       F   -   F9

As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds

   C                            G7                           C

Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing

  G7                                                     C

Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight

   F                        C                       G7

Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight

              C                          G7         C                      F  -  F9

An' for each an' ev'ry underdog soldier in the night

               C                         G7                           C          ( C G7 C )

An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.



In the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched

With faces hidden while the walls were tightening

As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin' rain

Dissolved into the bells of the lightning

Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake

Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked

Tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake

An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.


Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail

The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder

That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze

Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder

Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind

Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind

An' the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time

An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.


Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales

For the disrobed faceless forms of no position

Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts

All down in taken-for-granted situations

Tolling for the deaf an' blind, tolling for the mute

Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute

For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an' cheated by pursuit

An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.


Even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed

An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting

Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones

Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting

Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail

For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale

An' for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail

An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.


Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught

Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended

As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look

Spellbound an' swallowed 'til the tolling ended

Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed

For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse

An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe

An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Chimes of Freedom” is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan and featured on his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan (see 1964 in music), produced by Tom Wilson. It was written in early 1964 and was influenced by the symbolist poetry of Arthur Rimbaud. The song depicts the feelings and thoughts of the singer and his companion as they wait out a lightning storm under a doorway. The singer expresses his solidarity with people who are downtrodden or otherwise treated unjustly, and believes that the thunder is tolling in sympathy for them. Music critic Paul Williams has described the song as Dylan's Sermon on the Mount. The song has been covered many times by different artists, including The Byrds, Jefferson Starship, Youssou N'Dour, Bruce Springsteen and U2.
”Chimes of Freedom” was written shortly after the release of the „The Times They Are a-Changin'” album in early 1964 during a road trip that Dylan took across America with musician Paul Clayton, journalist Pete Karman and road manager Victor Maimudes. It was written at about the same time as „Mr. Tambourine Man”, which is similarly influenced by the symbolism of Arthur Rimbaud. There are conflicting stories about exactly when during the trip this song was written. One story is that Dylan wrote the song on a portable typewriter in the back of a car the day after visiting civil rights activists Bernice Johnson and Cordell Reagon in Atlanta, Georgia. However, a handwritten lyric sheet from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Toronto, Canada that was reproduced in The Bob Dylan Scrapbook 1956-1966 indicates that this story cannot be entirely true. Dylan was in Toronto, Canada in late January and early February, before the road trip on which the song was supposedly written. So, although parts of the song may have been written on the road trip, Dylan had started working on the song earlier. In any case, the first public performance of the song took place in early 1964, either at the Civic Auditorium in Denver on February 15 or at the Berkley Community Theater in San Francisco on February 22. „Chimes of Freedom” was an important part of Dylan's live concert repertoire throughout most of 1964, although by the latter part of that year he had ceased performing it and would not perform it again until 1987, when he revived the song for concerts with the Grateful Dead and with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
The master take of the song was recorded by Dylan, with Tom Wilson producing, during the recording sessions for the Another Side of Bob Dylan album on June 9, 1964. It took seven takes before Dylan got the song right, even though it was one of only three songs that he recorded during the session that he had already performed in front of a concert audience.
Music critic Paul Williams has described the song as Dylan's Sermon on the Mount. The song is a lyrical expression of feelings evoked while watching a lightning storm. The singer and a companion are caught in a thunderstorm in mid-evening and the pair of them duck into a doorway, where they are both transfixed by one lightning flash after another. The natural phenomena of thunder and lightning appear to take on auditory and ultimately emotional aspects to the singer, with the thunder experienced as the tolling of bells and the lightning bolts appearing as chimes. Eventually, the sights and sounds in the sky become intermixed in the mind of the singer, as evidenced by the lines:

As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds,
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing.

Over the course of the song, the sun slowly rises, and the lyrics can be interpreted as a proclamation of the hope that as the sky clears after a difficult night, all the world's people will rise together to proclaim their survival to the sound of the church bells.
In Chimes of Freedom: The Politics of Bob Dylan's Art, author Mike Marqusee notes that the song marks a transition between Dylan's earlier protest song style (a litany of the down-trodden and oppressed, in the second half of each verse) and his later more free-flowing poetic style (the fusion of images of lightning, storm and bells in the first half). In this later style, which is influenced by 19th century French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud, the poetry is more allusive, filled with „chains of flashing images.” In this song, rather than support a specific cause as in his earlier protest songs, he finds solidarity with all people who are downtrodden or otherwise treated unjustly, including unwed mothers, the disabled, refugees, outcasts, those unfairly jailed, „the luckless, the abandoned and forsaked,” and, in the final verse, „the countless confused, accused, misused, strung out ones and worse” and „every hung-up person in the whole wide universe.” By having the chimes of freedom toll for both rebels and rakes, the song is more inclusive in its sympathies than previous protest songs, such as „The Times They Are A-Changin'”, written just the prior year. After „Chimes of Freedom”, Dylan's protest songs no longer depicted social reality in the black and white terms he renounces in „My Back Pages” but rather use satirical surrealism to make their points.
The assassination of U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, is one possible inspiration for Dylan starting the song. Although Dylan has denied that this is the case, he did draft a number of poems in the fall of 1963 in the aftermath of Kennedy's death and one of those poems in particular, a short six line piece, appears to contain the genesis for „Chimes of Freedom”:

the colors of friday were dull
as the cathedral bells were gently burnin'
strikin for the gentle
strikin for the kind
strikin for the crippled ones
and strikin for the blind.

Kennedy was killed on a Friday, and the cathedral bells in the poem would have been the church bells heralding his death. Using a storm as a metaphor for the death of a president is similar to Shakespeare's use of a storm in King Lear. By the time Dylan wrote the first draft of „Chimes of Freedom” the following February, it contained many of the elements of this poem, except that the crippled ones and the blind were changed to „guardians and protectors of the mind.” In addition, the cathedral bells had become the „chimes of freedom flashing”, as seen by two lovers finding shleter in a cathedral doorway.
Besides Rimbaud's sybolism, the song is also influenced by the alliterative poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins, the poetic vision of William Blake and the violent drama, mixed with compassion and romantic language, of William Shakespeare. In addition, Dylan had used rain as a symbol in earlier songs, such as „A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall”. In his memoir, folk musician Dave Van Ronk claimed that the song was influenced by an old sentimental ballad, „Chimes of Trinity” by Michael J. Fitzpatrick, which Dave Van Ronk had introduced to Dylan.
Despite the song's appeal to cover artists, it has appeared sparingly on Dylan's compilation and live albums. It was, however, included on the 1967 European compilation album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits 2. A recording of Dylan performing the song at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival was included on the compilation album, The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack. The same performance can also be seen on the 2007 DVD The Other Side of the Mirror: Live at Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965. A version sung by Dylan and Joan Osborne appears on the original television soundtrack album, The 60's.
As of 2009, Dylan continues to perform „Chimes of Freedom” in concert, although he did not play the song live for 23 years beginning in late 1964 and resuming again in 1987. In 1993 Dylan played the song in front of the Lincoln Memorial as part of Bill Clinton's inauguration as U.S. president.


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