On the evening of September 11th, 2001, as the initial shock of what had happened that day began to abate, my thoughts turned to what would happen next. Events were still very much in flux, but it was already clear that whatever happened after the dust settled in New York, it wasn’t going be pretty.
That evening I went to the pub for a drink with my friend. It was Slattery’s on Capel Street. On the television in the corner, Sky News was showing night vision pictures of the skyline over Kabul. I assume now that the Northern Alliance were shelling Taliban positions. But at the time no one, not even the Sky News people, was quite sure who was firing, or who was being fired upon. I just remember people – punters, barstaff, everyone – staring at the television screen in grim silence. And this ominous refrain playing over and over in my head… “And it’s a-hard, it’s a-hard, it’s a-hard, it’s a-hard… It’s a hard rain’s gonna fall…”
Dylan wrote A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall when he 21 years old, about same age I was when the September 11th attacks occurred. It was 1962 and the Cuban Missile Crisis was at its height. The world was on the brink of nuclear war. He later said that every line in the song was the first line of another song he wanted to compose one day. “But when I wrote it,” he explained “I thought I wouldn’t have enough time alive to write all those songs, so I put all I could into this one.”