"The Times They Are A-Changin'" Turns 50

On this day 50 years ago, Bob Dylan's third album, The Times They Are a-Changin’ was released on Columbia Records. This album is the first of Dylan’s that is all original compositions. Pittsburgh singer-songwriter, Mark Dignam, joined Morning Mix host Joey Spehar to speak on behalf of The Times They Are a-Changin’ and its lasting relevance.

Written when he was just 23 , Bob Dylan’s album focused on racism, poverty and social change, all topics prevalent to the sixties era of civil justice. Typically, successful protest songs are those that can be recycled through the times and still make sense generations later. There are critics who have said that Dylan’s album and title track were immediately outdated, and others who argue that the songs are timeless. Mark Dignam believes the latter.

“The whole entire album you could almost swap out some of the names for some of the things that are going on right now… I think you could get up and sing that song today. And possibly could you have done it five or ten years ago, maybe not. But today it’s become relevant again.”

The structure of The Times They Are a-Changin’  was loosely based off of old Irish and Scottish ballads, but Dignam, as a Dublin native, says he hears less of the influence in this album than Dylan’s former albums: Free Wheelin’ and Bob Dylan, both of which were not all original content.

The Times They Are a-Changin’, I think he started moving towards his own style. There may have been hints- there are always hints of it in everything he does, but I think less so than on the Free Wheelin’  Bob Dylan.”

The Times They Are a-Changin, released 50 years ago today, continues to inspire other singer-songwriters, like Mark Dignam, concerned with social justice and its influence on society and the musical world. For more information on what Dignam is up to you can check out his website.