The only good thing about Zack Snyder’s Watchmen movie is the opening credits sequence which is set to “The Times They Are A-Changin’”. If the movie had continued to be that good, it would be classic. Instead, it’s Watchmen.
Snyder uses a ton of shortcuts in that sequence, and the shortest of them all is the song selection. There may be no more anthemic song of the entire decade, but that doesn’t make it any less great. This is Dylan self-consciously adopting the mantle of “voice of a generation”, something that he would almost immediately attempt to cast off. It’s the song that his audience needed him to write.
With the Biblical overtones, its generation gap rhetoric, its address to “senators and congressmen”, and its skilfully crafted couplets this is a song that begs to be used in a variety of contexts. Yet it is not simply useful, it is actually quite beautiful. It’s a minor masterpiece of crafting, and is a song that plays well in a variety of arrangements.
Wikipedia reminded me that in 2010 the hand-written lyrics for the song were sold at auction for more than $400,000 to a hedge fund manager. So, maybe not so much change after all.
Here’s the Quest version from early 1964: