On the evening of September 11th, 2001, as the initial shock of what had happened began to abate, I remember my thoughts turned to what would come next. Events were still 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 was sick of staring at the television so I went out for a drink. 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 those pictures showed the Northern Alliance shelling Taliban positions. But at the time no one, not even the Sky News reporters, seemed to be 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… “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 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when he 21 years old. The same age I was in September 2001. I’m not comparing myself to the guy, not even for a second. But I do think that, for a moment on that awful day, I had some inkling of how he must have felt in October 1962.
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.”