I’m sure no one missed Dr. Miron’s 5 “Music and Myths” emails from this past weekend, but in case you did, I wanted to take the opportunity to to explain 1) their purpose and 2) why it matters now.
In 1963, rumors started swirling that Bob Dylan did not write his famous hit song, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and that it was in fact written by Millburn High School student, Lorre Wyatt. After a Newsweek article was published about the rumors on November 4. 1964, the story went nationwide, bringing Millburn High School into the limelight, but not necessarily for unanimously positive reasons.
Some believed ardently that Wyatt wrote the song, as they claimed they heard it from him before Dylan ever performed it. From the perspective of a Dylan fan, this doesn’t bode well for his/her idol. Taking credit for a high schooler’s work seems lazy and takes away from the supposed pure artistry of a man that later became the first musician to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Some viewed this as a cheap way for Wyatt to gain fame, while others saw it as the only way to bring justice to both Wyatt and Dylan. Both Wyatt and Dylan did deny that Wyatt wrote and sold the song, but that didn’t stop the rumor.
All modern evidence suggests the rumor has no true backing, yet here we are still questioning the validity today. After all, the much more fun and dramatic story to believe is that Wyatt was simply restricted from speaking about his role due to a contract he signed when selling the song. It’s still hard to wrap my head around the fact that an icon, like Dylan, wouldn’t have written one of his most iconic songs. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to learn the truth.
The reason Millburn High School brought up the controversy again was that the Class of 1967 gifted a bench to the school on May 18, 2019 with the message “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
As Dr. Miron aptly pointed out, the phrase does apply to the predicament surrounding the song. Either the answer is so obvious that it’s circling right in front of everyone’s faces or it’s so elusive that no one will ever know the truth.
The fact that the Class of 1967 chose this to be their gift during their 50th reunion in 2017 is fascinating. Out of all the things they could have chosen to commemorate their time at Millburn, they decided on folklore. They don’t claim that Wyatt wrote the song, however they wanted to use the bench to remember the myth forever. Since the bench already has the town and school talking, it seems as if that goal is coming to fruition.
Members of the high school chorus performed at the event with none other than this (in)famous song. If you’re interested in a recording, the link is Blowin’ In the Wind. Somewhat ironically, the sound of the wind is as clearly heard as the song.
Note: all picture credits go to Dr. Miron’s “Music and Myths” emails.