Chimes of freedom

December 23, 2016


“To the barricades!” my husband exhorted the other day, as I told him about the latest political action being taken against the regime of hate and evil that’s coming.  Instantly, I thought of the first time I saw Les Miserables on Broadway so many years ago. At the time, a key role was played by a woman who would become a dear friend, but at the time I didn’t know her at all. That wouldn’t come for years. But still, I loved everything about this famous play, includlng the music, which moved me tremendously.

Back then, I thought our protesting days were over. Little would I know the role women would take in political action — and even revolution– decades later.

As we all prepare to go into our holiday meal comas this weekend,  nothing too heavy today. Ok, well, I lied. This IS pretty heavy, and moving, but it’s music:

I happened to hear this Dylan song called The Chimes of Freedom the other day, and it seemed appropriate.  Many of us feel the walls tightening around us and it’s important to fight back for freedom–for ours, and for all those Dylan calls out in his song, because the bells of freedom do toll for the luckless, the abandoned and the forsaked….and the mistreated. For all those that awful orange man wishes to put behind walls, register as pariahs and generally treat differently than others.

So if you’re taking this day off from political action to prepare for the holidays, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to this message about freedom and draw inspiration, motivation and strength from Dylan’s words.


Then again, there’s this Baez/Dylan version with political action images and lyrics, that I love because it brings the message home.

Another, below. I love them all and can never make up my mind: take your pick but I guarantee it’ll speak to you. If you value freedom.

Chimes of Freedom
Bob Dylan
Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing

Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the poet and the painter far behind his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

In the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
For the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chained an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flared
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

18 comments on “Chimes of freedom
  1. Very appropriate! Happy Holidays!

  2. I had never heard this song before (I must have been in pop music mode at the time).Such moving words and certainly inspiring in dark times like these Carol. I hope you find some time to enjoy Christmas before heading to the barricades once more x

  3. “Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts.” That’s me. I don’t know what to do. I am paralyzed. It’s shameful that I read the news and get so angry, yet I do nothing. I cannot act.

  4. Barbara says:

    This is why Dylan got the Nobel Prize. It’s all about the words, not the voice. Thanks for sharing this, Carol. I’m going to do the same.
    Merry Christmas!

  5. So much said through music and verse. Thank you Carol. Our freedom is something we should never take for granted. Happy Holidays to you!

  6. Chrissy says:

    Oh wow what an awesome song! The Beatles are great!

  7. I’ve always said Dylan had a way with words. This line really speaks to me: As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
    Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended

  8. Cat says:

    I’ve also never heard this Dylan/Baez song before. The Venezuela video is so moving. Thanks for unearthing it!

  9. Elizabeth O. says:

    There’s still so many things to fight for especially now when we’re about to welcome a president who doesn’t have respect for women. I think it’s going to be a constant struggle to be a woman in this day and age. We think people have changed, but it feels like we’re going back in time. Anyway, thanks for the empowering song! Happy Holidays!

  10. Heidi says:

    I’d never heard that song before. Thank you. Merry Christmas!

  11. Wren says:

    Music can always move us! I had never heard this before, thank you for sharing it. I will have to have my husband take a listen too.

  12. Love theBeatles and Bob Dylan thanks fro sharing such great videos and music merry Christmas.

  13. Anne says:

    I’ve never heard of this song. But is sounds great. The Beatles is one of my favourite too.

  14. Jess says:

    Lovely songs. Im swedish so I think Dylan really deserved the nobel prize. Although it wasnt tradiotional I thought it was lovely. We need to be more loving, caring and supporting today with all the hate thats going on in the world. This warmed my heart, a very lovely post. Merry xmas!

  15. Love this song, as well as “The Time They Are A-Changin'”. Dylan and Baez gave voice to a generation of young people fed up with injustice, bigotry, and oppression. I feel like today, more than ever, we are in desperate need of artists to unify and speak for essentially the same issues, as well as the insidious issue of economic injustice which has taken hold of this country.

  16. kelly reci says:

    listening to this music is very relaxing.. it was perfect with my hot choco and just chillin’ like I have nothing to worry about me returning to work on Monday haha lol! thanks for sharing this song, i love it so much!

  17. DogVills says:

    Dylan is an excellent songwriter and lyricist, he’s so well-tuned to our tastes. Thanks for the videos and music, it all brings back memories!

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