Working at home, upstairs in my studio office, I am at my desk, my keyboard beneath my fingers, a blank document on my computer screen before me. Waiting, curious, I ask, “What does Art Notes want to be this week? What is the theme?” I sit ready to write. I listen for words to appear.
Outside the open window beside me, a staccato breeze is coming and going, stirring the leaves of the maple tree towering above our meditation garden. My listening shifts to the wind. Words arrive. “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
Ah, yes, the times, the days, the trees, the seasons they are a changin’!
Autumn. This magical time of year when all of Carthage seems to color up in celebration. This glorious season when our stunning canopy of maple trees and all their companions flamboyantly cover our town where store front windows on the Square are festooned in yellows and oranges and golds and russets and reds and burgundy and many shades of each.
On early morning walks with our Aussie, I relish autumn’s brilliant palette repeated with chrysanthemums and pumpkins on front steps and stoops and decorations over doors and scattered in front yards and along fences of white pickets and vintage wrought iron. For autumn in Carthage our everyday world becomes a visual feast to inspire our spirits and nourish our souls as we go about the business of our ordinary living while “the times they are a changin’”.
Back in the autumn of 1963, living in New York City, Bob Dylan wrote his lyrics for “The Times They Are A-Changin’”. The song has been covered by many artists including Josephine Baker; Tracy Chapman; Simon & Garfunkel; Joan Baez; and Burl Ives.
“The Times They Are A-Changin’” was Dylan’s deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the time. In 1985 he told a journalist, “This was definitely a song with a purpose. It was influenced of course by the Irish and Scottish ballads …’Come All Ye Bold Highway Men’, ‘Come All Ye Tender Hearted Maidens’. I wanted to write a big song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way.” The “a-” in the song title is an archaic intensifying prefix, as in the British songs “A-Hunting We Will Go” and “Here We Come a-Wassailing”, from the 18th and 19th century.
And so go the lyrics of Dylan’s second and fourth verses:
“Come writers and critics, Who prophesize with your pen, And keep your eyes wide, The chance won’t come again, And don’t speak too soon, For the wheel’s still in spin, And there’s no tellin’ who, That it’s namin’, For the loser now, Will be later to win, For the times they are a-changin’.
Come mothers and fathers, Throughout the land, And don’t criticize, What you can’t understand, Your sons and your daughters, Are beyond your command, Your old road is rapidly agin’, Please get out of the new one, If you can’t lend your hand, For the times they are a-changin’.”
One critic points out that the song’s lyrics echo lines from the Book of Ecclesiastes (To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven….”), which Pete Seeger adapted to create his anthem “Turn, Turn, Turn!” Dylan’s climactic line about the first later being last is also a direct scriptural reference to Mark 10:31: “But many that are first shall be last, and the last first.”
Yes, another glorious autumn in Carthage and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” While we delight in this season of intensified beauty there is the deep knowing that this season too shall pass and then comes winter again in all her quiet stillness. Winter—a time for reflection. Winter—a time to choose a new direction. Winter—a time to embrace change and get ready to step forward into the newness of spring.
For these beautiful autumn days through December 4, come to Hyde House at 1110 East Thirteenth in Carthage and see how artCentral is celebrating this inspiring season with the gracious support of Sharon and Lance Beshore and Old Missouri Bank. Bid on and buy your favorite SMALL WORKS|GREAT WONDERS. Spend time with “p-i-e-c-e-d TOGETHER”—the extraordinary mixed media exhibition by Lori Marble and Jo Mueller. Weekend Gallery Hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. with CDC protocols practiced at artCentral. Face masks and social distancing are required for everyone entering Hyde House. For more information call (417) 358-4404 and visit www.artcentralcarthage.org.