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Harmonica Lessons: "Blowin' In The Wind"

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this is one
of the most
well known
songs written in
the 1960s by
Bob Dylan
called, Blowin
in the Wind.
And I have to tell you that this is my
debut performance of it with a rack.
And it might be the last
performance of it with a rack.
This thing, this contraption that
I just took of my neck, thank God,
is called a rack.
And this is like the very,
very basic model that you can get.
I've had this thing for 40 years, and
I like to say they don't call
it the rack for nothing.
Because it's fairly uncomfortable, and it
lends itself very well to playing in that
style of just breathing in and out of the
harmonica and you can bend a little bit.
And it's kinda conversational,
almost like talking, the way that
Bob Dylan played the harmonica.
In first position,
quite often he used it in first position,
this song is in, C it's a C harp,
this is a special 20.
Regular hone or special 20 harmonica.
And the song is very simple
of course the rack allows a person to
strum a guitar or
finger pick a guitar or play a piano and
play the harmonica at the same time.
Starts on the fifth of the melody,
which is the six hole blow.
Six hole draw.
It has three chords.
C, F, C.
C, F, C.
Usually when Dylan plays
it it's very simple.
C, F, C.
C, F, G.
And other people like Peter,
Paul and Mary,
when they did it they added more chords.
Same exact melody.
They do.
They had an A minor chord.
All sorts of things to make a three
part vocal harmony more interesting.
And as a mater of fact I just played
with Peter Yarrow from Peter,
Paul and Mary last week.
I have to tell you it was a wonderful
thing to feel, his genuine
enthusiasm for causes that characterized
a lot of the folk movement of the 1960s.
And he still has all of that real
feeling inside him to try to be
a positive force in the world.
So, Blowin in the Wind is a song
if you look up the lyrics.
All about the things in the world
that are kinda hard to explain,
like why certain situations
just are the way they are.
When a young person grows up, he looks
at it and goes why is this unjust?
Why are these peoples treated like slaves?
Why is there war all the time?
And the answer is blowing in the wind.
And no one can answer these questions for
It's almost like asking your father
why is the sky blue when you're a kid.
What is the explanation for it?
It's the human condition.
So that's one of the things about
Bob Dylan that was so universal is that
he asked all the profound questions, and
many of these questions had no answers.
And the harmonica was the key prop for
him in asking these questions.
Cuz it naturally played chords and
it just somehow was almost
in a way of a ventriloquist
with a ventriloquist dummy
talking back to him.
Bob Dylan's harmonica was kind of like
his, like another side of his personality
that was speaking, but that was almost
speaking automatically because the chords,
his music was so harmonically simple that
he could just pick up the harmonica and
have it speak for him.
Just by breathing in and out through it.
[SOUND] And he knew just enough
of sorta bending at notes.
Had a little bit of a bluesy feeling,
could play a little bit in cross harp and
he introduced much of world,
re-introduced it to the diatonic
harmonica which had not
been popular in music ever,
really, heard on the radio.
Before him, probably the only harmonica
that we heard on the radio were chromatic
harmonicas, Peg o' My Heart, and
all the different harmonica bands,
like the Harmonicats,
which were commonly seen on television.
But Dylan, with the folk revival,
introduced the harmonica
to a mass world audience.
And really did a lot to
expose the instrument.
And of course, his playing was very
simple and he always used this rack.
So I can't say that he was
an influence on my playing,
per se, but that he did make
the instrument more popular so
that it prepared people to hear
blues harmonica players later.
And it sort of pave the way for
the popularity,
the increased popularity of
the harmonica in the world.