Culture

Did the Welsh National Anthem inspire one of Bob Dylan’s most famous songs?

21 Jun 2021 3 minutes Read
Bob Dylan. Photo by badosa is licensed under CC BY 2.0

David Owens

The link between Bob Dylan and Wales is well established.

The iconic US singer-songwriter’s surname was chosen in tribute to Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, whose poetry had inspired the young musician, born Robert Zimmerman.

But now it’s been claimed that the musical legend may have also been inspired by the Welsh National Anthem, ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’, in one of his most famous songs.

According to Welsh rock star Mike Peters, who has performed with Dylan, the US icon may well have used chords from the anthem in his famed protest song ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’

Discovery

The Alarm frontman says that when he was writing the Wales official Euro 2020l anthem ‘The Red Wall Of Cymru’ he made the discovery.

“I always thought one of the great things about our country is our National Anthem,” he said. “It’s the greatest pop song that’s never been released. So I started there, I thought let’s take some of the melody and the spirit of the National Anthem and put it into the rock environment.

“When I started looking at the song breaking the chord structure down into just a piece of guitar music, I realised actually Bob Dylan possibly took more that just his name from Wales, because the melody of the National Anthem appears in ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’, one of his greatest ever songs.

“I thought well if Bob Dylan can do it, we can take it back for ourselves and create an anthem for the fans.”

It transpires that Dylan is also quite the fan of the Welsh musician and Wales in general.

“I’m lucky in my life to have sung with Bob Dylan,” recalled Mike, who has also shared the stage with such rock legends as Bono, Bruce Springsteen, and Neil Young. “I sang with him twice and he used to come and watch us play and he stood on the side of the stage.

“He loved the fact that we came from Wales and he loved that I sang ‘Bells of Rhymney’ which was written by the poet Idris Davies and also covered by Dylan, as well as The Byrds.

“He was taken by that and when I sat down to think about how am I going to write a song for Wales and what is it going to be about, I knew I had to channel Dylan and the anthem.”

Mike Peters of The Alarm by markheybo is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The singer clearly hopes the song connects with the fans and translates to the stands.

“This is something I’ve waited for all my life, there’s never been an Alarm song made it onto the football terraces,” he said. “I got into music by going to see Wales and hearing Slade and T-Rex play over the tannoy thinking what is this music? That took me outside of football into music and here I am as a musician and I’ve made music all my life. This is such an honour to be asked to do the song for Wales and not just for the FAW, the players but for the nation.”

‘The Red Wall Of Cymru’ is out now.

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Dave Harries
Dave Harries
1 month ago

Hmm. I love both Dylan and peters but this is stretching it a bit.

TrustMe OnThis
TrustMe OnThis
27 days ago

Bob has always dismissed the suggestion that he had Dylan Thomas in mind when he chose his stage name.
He has long been intensely interested in Irish folk music and also Scottish, so I guess he is knowledgeable about Welsh music too.

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