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Boomer Anthems: Chimes of Freedom by Dylan

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

A great song containing a great poem and prayer

— and not just for 1964 when it was written and not just for this era and this nation but for all times and all nations and all people.***

My generation from which this song emerged?

Well, we had some nice ideals.

Nowadays, not so much.

Time to be great again.

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
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

HT: The Traveler


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • MIKE GUENTHER August 29, 2020, 4:33 PM

    Too bad Springsteen’s songs, although sounding patriotic, are just liberal diatribes against the American way of life.

  • Vanderleun August 29, 2020, 4:54 PM

    This is not Springsteen’s song. It’s Dylan. Still, I take your point about Springsteen and his bad-Americanism. Dylan’s current politics are obscure but in general with showbiz types “obscure” means “tilts conservative.”

    The song first broke the charts with the Byrds’ version but those videos either have inadequate sound tracks or bad/no visuals. I try to include only visuals of songs that have something visual going on. Some of the imagry embedded in this version I no longer fancy, but on the whole the video itself is worth watching as well as listening to.

  • MIKE GUENTHER August 29, 2020, 7:55 PM

    I guess if I had actually read the lyrics instead of just listening to the song, I would have realized that it was more Dylanesque than Springsteen. Not to impugn Springsteen’s writing ability because many other musicians covered some of his songs.

  • mharko August 30, 2020, 9:19 AM

    Love the song, but cannot stand Springsteen or bear to hear his voice. Ruins it totally for me.
    i’ll just stay with Dylan’s, Plenty of visuals in the lyrics alone.

  • ck August 30, 2020, 10:53 AM

    Yeah, that’s my music, not that Crosby trash.

  • Auntie Analogue August 30, 2020, 11:36 AM

    My dear mharko, it’s a delight to come across a kindred soul: like you, I could never stand Springsteen or his voice – the latter grates on my last nerve. As I was born and grew up in New Jersey, from my old New Jersey friends I take a lot of heat for my distaste for Springsteen, but that’s a heat I bask in and tolerate with impish good humor.

    I love to play & sing “Chimes Of Freedom,” but in the condensed three-verse version popularized by The Byrds, which I prefer because those three verses distill the song to its essence (and on their track I’ve also always loved The Byrds’ lovely harmony and the silvery tintinnabulation of that twelve-string rhythm guitar). That track is not the only cover of a Dylan number that I prefer to Dylan’s original.

  • Jack August 30, 2020, 1:40 PM

    I took the bait and began to play the vid but it wasn’t Bob who wailing, but Sprinsteen, a yankee piece of shit if God ever made one. So I quickly shut it down. Truly, I wouldn’t piss on that guy if his face was on fire.

  • Vanderleun August 30, 2020, 3:31 PM

    What can I say except one needs to always differentiate between the song and the singer.

  • bruce August 30, 2020, 5:18 PM

    I wanted to enter into the spirit of this, but I don’t think it was produced by Boomers or one of our anthems. I barely knew the song existed until the Youtube era, and I’ve been listening to Dylan songs for over 50 years. I suspect it’s something he wrote to please Pete Seeger and co. Dylan, like Paul Simon, was really a frustrated rock and roller, although some of their folk songs are lovely, and moving, even timeless (Sound of Silence, Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall…).

    The 1930s-1945 so-called ‘silent generation’ don’t get enough credit for having led and prettty much created the 1960s on impressionable young minds, which is what we Boomers actually were. For example I see a previous song was Hurdy Gurdy Man, interesting as a paraphrase of Schubert’s ‘Leierman’ from Winterreise, but did you know Donovan’s song is really about the Maharishi Mahesh? Now that was an evil cult leader who again had too much influence on impressionable young Boomers, because we trusted older folks who sold him to us.

  • bruce August 30, 2020, 5:35 PM

    On the positive side, if it was one of the songs Patti Smith sang on her album ’12’ I’d be all for it. Such as her version of Dylan’s later song Changing of the Guards which I’ve always loved in Dylan’s and now her singing. We belong to the blank generation my friend.

  • Patrick O'Hannigan August 30, 2020, 6:11 PM

    The Byrds covered this great song, too, as I’m sure you know. And if you like its epic feel, you’ll also like Chris Hillman’s version of Bells of Rhymney, off the 2017 solo album “Bidin’ My Time,” which was produced by the late great Tom Petty:

  • Vanderleun August 31, 2020, 9:30 AM

    Patrick, you’ve hit on my favorite Byrds’ song/cover…. for the harmonies sure but also for the amazing bridge.

  • mharko August 31, 2020, 12:41 PM

    Dear Auntie,
    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. We are kindred. I’ve always appreciated the Byrds too, and their descendants and emulators. They (McGuinn, really) were my intro to Bob, after all. My high school garage band was centered on a 12-string Rickenbacker.
    Gerard, yes, we will continue to discriminate b/w song and singer. I always appreciate your site….on my regular playlist.