Changing Of The Guards - Bob Dylan


Welcome to the aiMOOC on "Changing of the Guards" by Bob Dylan! In this course, you'll dive deep into one of Dylan's most intriguing songs, exploring its lyrics, music, context, and the artist himself. This song, released in 1978, is part of Dylan's album "Street-Legal" and showcases his unique storytelling and songwriting skills.

Background of "Changing of the Guards"

"Changing of the Guards" is a song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Featured on his 1978 album "Street-Legal," it is known for its rich imagery and complex lyrics. The song marks a significant period in Dylan's career, showcasing a transition in his musical style.

  1. Learn about the album "Street-Legal": Street-Legal
  2. Explore Bob Dylan's career in the late 1970s: Bob Dylan's 1970s
  3. Understand the music scene in the 1970s: 1970s Music

Analysis of Lyrics

The lyrics of "Changing of the Guards" are dense with imagery and can be interpreted in various ways. Dylan uses symbolic language to perhaps reflect on personal changes or broader social transformations.

  1. Explore the lyrical themes in Dylan's music: Dylan's Songwriting
  2. Analyze the use of imagery in song lyrics: Imagery in Music
  3. Understand the context of 1970s America: 1970s America

Musical Composition

The musical arrangement of "Changing of the Guards" features a rich blend of instruments, indicative of Dylan's evolving sound during this period. The song's structure and composition contribute significantly to its overall impact.

  1. Learn about musical composition in songwriting: Musical Composition
  2. Discover the role of different instruments in a song: Instruments in Songs
  3. Understand the evolution of rock music: Rock Music History

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What year was "Changing of the Guards" released? (1978) (!1965) (!1983) (!1972)

Which album features "Changing of the Guards"? (Street-Legal) (!Blood on the Tracks) (!Desire) (!Slow Train Coming)

What is a notable feature of the song's composition? (Use of a rich blend of instruments) (!Minimalist guitar arrangement) (!Electronic soundscapes) (!Orchestral backing)

What thematic element is prominent in "Changing of the Guards"? (Symbolic language and imagery) (!Political activism) (!Love and relationships) (!Biographical storytelling)

How is "Changing of the Guards" typically interpreted? (Reflecting personal or social transformations) (!A song about environmental concerns) (!An homage to folk music traditions) (!A narrative about a historical event)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

In which decade did Bob Dylan start his music career? (1960s) (!1950s) (!1970s) (!1980s)

Which genre is Bob Dylan primarily associated with? (Folk/Rock) (!Hip-hop) (!Jazz) (!Classical)

What is one of Bob Dylan's most famous early songs? ("Blowin' in the Wind") (!"Hotel California") (!"Purple Haze") (!"Bohemian Rhapsody")

Bob Dylan received a Nobel Prize in which category? (Literature) (!Peace) (!Physics) (!Economics)

What is a significant aspect of Dylan's music in the 1970s? (Transition in musical style) (!Focus on electronic music) (!Collaborations with pop artists) (!Return to classical music roots)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

The lyrics of "Changing of the Guards" are known for their: (Density and symbolic language) (!Simple and direct message) (!Focus on dance and party themes) (!Narration of historical events)

Which of the following is a recurring theme in the song's lyrics? (Transformation and change) (!Travel and adventure) (!Romantic love) (!Technological advancements)

The song's lyrics are often interpreted as reflecting: (Bob Dylan's personal or artistic evolution) (!Specific political events of the 1970s) (!A story of a fictional character) (!Anecdotes from Dylan's childhood)

In "Changing of the Guards," Dylan uses: (Imagery and metaphor) (!Explicit storytelling) (!Scientific language) (!Humorous anecdotes)

The song's lyric "Sixteen years" is often seen as a reference to: (Dylan's career up to that point) (!The age of a young protagonist) (!A historical event) (!A future prediction)


Create a memory game with matching pairs for this topic.

Bob Dylan Folk/Rock Musician
1978 Release of "Changing of the Guards"
Street-Legal Album featuring the song
Symbolic Language A characteristic of the song's lyrics
Musical Transition Theme of Dylan's career in the 1970s

Open Tasks


  1. Create a playlist of Bob Dylan songs from the 1970s: Explore how his music style changed during this decade.
  2. Draw a portrait of Bob Dylan using any art medium: Reflect his musical evolution through your artistic style.


  1. Write a short essay on the influence of 1970s America on Dylan's music: Consider social, political, and cultural factors.
  2. Analyze the lyrics of "Changing of the Guards": Discuss the use of imagery and metaphor in the song.


  1. Compose a song inspired by "Changing of the Guards": Use similar thematic elements and musical style.
  2. Research and present a detailed analysis of Dylan's transition in the 1970s: Include his albums, songwriting, and public perception.

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss the impact of Bob Dylan's shift in musical style in the late 1970s: How did it reflect or influence cultural trends of the time?
  2. Analyze the role of symbolism in Dylan's songwriting: How does it enhance the listener's experience?
  3. Compare and contrast "Changing of the Guards" with another Dylan song from a different era: What similarities and differences can you identify?
  4. Reflect on how Dylan's music has influenced modern songwriters: Provide examples.
  5. Discuss the significance of Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in Literature: How does his songwriting compare to traditional literature?

OERs on the Topic


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