A Hard Rain

Bob Dylan’s original handwritten lyrics.

We hope that you are staying safe and dry as Hurricane Sandy batters New York. Today we’re going to take a look at Bob Dylan’s noted song “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall.” Dylan’s composition, which was included in his second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (the iconic cover of which was shot on Jones Street), has become a classic. It is filled with allegory and symbolism on a variety of themes including war, injustice, suffering, and hate. The Cold War was in full swing during the fall of 1962, and the work reflects the tension of the era. It was just a month later that the Cuban Missile Crisis would threaten the world — and luckily be resolved fifty years ago yesterday.

Numerous accounts recall that Dylan penned “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall” in September 1962 in a friend’s basement apartment in the building that housed the famed Village Gate nightclub at Bleecker and Thompson Streets in the South Village. That building was formerly known as Mills House Number 1, one of the first experimental housing projects in New York. Built by architect and housing reformer Ernest Flagg from 1896-1897, Mills House was a home for single men and funded by philanthropist Darius Ogden Mills.

Dylan made his home in the South Village and here you can see some of his notable hangouts, many of which still exist today.

Many buildings in the South Village face an increasing threat of demolition as development pressure increases on the area. Though the City has landmarked the first third of the proposed district, the remaining two-thirds have not yet been acted upon.  In the meantime we’ve lost critical parts of the city’s artistic and mid-tewntieth century cultural history. To find out how you can help save this important neighborhood, click here.

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Drew was GVSHP's Director of Administration until March 2015.

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