A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall

"A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" is a song written by Bob Dylan in the summer of 1962 and recorded later that year for his second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963).


A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (WORD)
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (PDF)

Thanks to Chris Hill for this song! The songsheet is in F, but if you want to play along with Dylan's recording below, detune your uke to F# B D# G#.

Dylan originally wrote "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" in the form of a poem. Its lyrical structure is modeled after the question and answer form of traditional ballads such as "Lord Randall". The first iteration of the lyrics was written on a typewriter in the shared apartment of Dylan's friends Wavy Gravy and singer Tom Paxton, within Greenwich Village, New York City. Although Dylan may have first played the song to friends, "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" was formally premiered at Carnegie Hall on September 22, 1962, as part of a hootenanny organized by Pete Seeger. Seeger recalled: "I had to announce to all the singers, 'Folks, you're gonna be limited to three songs. No more. 'Cause we each have ten minutes apiece.' And Bob raised his hand and said, 'What am I supposed to do? One of my songs is ten minutes long.'"

Dylan has said that all of the lyrics were taken from the initial lines of songs that "he thought he would never have time to write." Nat Hentoff quoted Dylan as saying that he immediately wrote the song in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis, although in his memoir, Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan attributed his inspiration to the feeling he got when reading microfiche newspapers in the New York Public Library: "After a while you become aware of nothing but a culture of feeling, of black days, of schism, evil for evil, the common destiny of the human being getting thrown off course. It’s all one long funeral song."

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