About the Songwriter

 

Verse 3, continued

And while Lennon read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park

As the sixties revolution builds, rock moves towards a more political and social role, mirroring the changing political climate that would increasingly come to embrace a kind of socialism for America—hence (John) Lennon (of the Beatles, of course) reading a book on (Karl) Marx. And as the writings of Marx proved so influential in Russian leader Vladimir Lenin's thinking and his role in the Russian Revolution of 1917, the idea of a cultural revolution in the works is obvious. The "quartet" seems to be a reference to the Beatles, juxtaposed as it is to Lennon's name, and their famous 1966 farewell concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park, which marked a turning point in their musical development: retiring from the public eye and the simpler music they came to prominence with, the Beatles grew more and more experimental in their output around this time, and would soon come to significantly change the shape of rock 'n' roll, just as Dylan had done before them. Practicing in the park is preparing for this revolutionary role (as is Lennon reading a book on Marx), as their influence on the youth culture of America was about to become even more pronounced. Practicing in the park also foreshadows the football game of the next verse. But for now, Dylan remains the voice of his generation.

And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died

•   •   •

So the older musical order as symbolized by Presley and Holly had begun slipping away around this time; and in the wake of all the social unrest and generational conflicts emerging in the 1960s, so too was the older, simpler social order of the 1950s which they represent. The narrator sings a funeral dirge mourning one more step in the passing of the world he once knew: another day the music of that era dies—blow number three.

•   •   •

 

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