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Bob Dylan Album Cover
Bob Dylan the Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (released 1991)

Talkin’ John Birch
Paranoid Blues

Bob Dylan

A lot of '60s music deals with politics and protests, but Bob Dylan's work stands out. Dylan's early '60s songs often have a whimsical touch—a sort of audio camouflage for the radical content of the lyrics. A prime example, his Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues describes the ultra-ridiculous anxieties of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society. The song is humorous, but carries a serious message about protecting free speech. As if to underscore Dylan's concerns, a CBS executive orders him not to play the song during his appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. In protest, Dylan refuses to go on at all.

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