Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” from 1964, is one of our all-time great protest songs, and the world needs great protest songs right now. And so Billy Bragg, the great veteran socialist singer-songwriter, has taken “The Times They Are A Changin'” and tweaked its lyrics to make it a song about our new President. Without altering the structure of the song, Bragg has turned it into a sweeping bromide, one that touches on climate change, mob violence, and reproductive rights. He’s called it “The Times, They Are A-Changin’ Back.” Below, watch Bragg singing his version of the song and read his statement about it, via Brooklyn Vegan.
At 5pm on Friday, at the moment Donald Trump became President of the United States, Joe Henry and I were beginning our sound check in Salisbury. Joe began mournfully strumming Dylan’s classic “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and, listening to him from the wings, I ruefully thought that it seems more like the times are changing back to how they were in the 1950s.
Checking into my hotel, I saw clips from Trump’s inaugural speech on the evening news and, 30 minutes later when I stepped out the shower, I had these lyrics in my head. I played the song that night in City Hall and it went down a storm. A night off in York has given me an opportunity to film a performance in my room.