A recent writing prompt asked me to share a video that I’ve used in an educational setting. As it happens, tomorrow I’m planning to show our Davis Academy Middle School students this incredible video of Patti Smith singing Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at the 2016 Nobel Ceremony.

I’m showing this video for a couple of reasons. First, like most of the known world, I love this song. Next, I love the emotion that comes through in this video– from the singer, the band, and the international audience that was in attendance. Third, I think that part of the power of the song resides in the fact that different people hear different things in the lyrics. That’s due to iconic nature of the lyrics, but also due to their subtlety.

Like the rest of us, students are exposed to various types of literatures and discourses in their daily lives. Right now there’s a lot of rancor, a lot of shouting, a lot of stuff that doesn’t capture the potential and the dignity of the human voice. Dylan’s song, interpreted by Patti Smith, honors the beauty of the human voice when that voice seeks expression through the arts. I want to remind my students that this sort of stuff is happening amidst all the rest.


A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall