“Blowin’ in the Wind” is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1962 and released as a single and on his album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in 1963. Although it has been described as a protest song, it poses a series of rhetorical questions about peace, war, and freedom. The refrain “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind” has been described as “impenetrably ambiguous: either the answer is so obvious it is right in your face, or the answer is as intangible as the wind”.
Blowin’ in the Wind” has been recorded by hundreds of artists. The most commercially successful version is by folk music trio Peter, Paul and Mary, who released the song in June 1963, three weeks after The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was issued. Albert Grossman, then managing both Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary, brought the trio the song which they promptly recorded (on a single take) and released. The trio’s version, which was the title track of their third album, peaked at number 2 on the Billboard charts. The group’s version also went to number one on the Middle-Road charts for five weeks.
Other notable recordings include those by Sielun Veljet, who released it as a single, and Stevie Wonder, whose version became a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966. The Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ version appears on their album Blow in the Wind, a play on the title of the song. Marlene Dietrich recorded a German version of the song (titled Die Antwort Weiss Ganz Allein Der Wind”) which peak at #32 in Germany charts.
Tore Lagergren wrote lyrics in Swedish, “Och vinden ger svar” (“and the wind gives answer”), which charted at Svensktoppen for two weeks in 1963, first as recorded by Otto, Berndt och Beppo, peaking at number 8 on October 12, and by Lars Lönndahl during November 9–15 with sixth & seventh position. Both were released on single A-es in 1963. This version was also recorded by Sven-Ingvars as the B-side of the single “Du ska tro på mej”, released in March 1967. With these lyrics, the song also charted at Svensktoppen in 1970, with Michael med Salt och peppar.
Glen Campbell recorded an instrumental version of the song for his 1964 album The Astounding 12-String Guitar of Glen Campbell.
Neil Young recorded an electric version of the song for his 1991 live album Weld_(album).
Dolly Parton recorded the song for her 2005 covers album Those Were the Days.
Steve Alaimo recorded the song in 1965. Despite his national presence on Where the Action Is, his version failed to chart on Billboard’s Hot 100. It did however reach #139 on Cashbox charts.
In some live performances, Pete Seeger includes an additional verse as a spoof which criticizes Dylan’s use of over-extended metaphors and wordiness. The verse is usually sung as follows,
“How many words can be written on a page, before they begin to bleed? How many books can one man own, before he has learned to read? How many meanings can he give to a phrase, before, from his lexicon he’s freed?”