Johnny Depp is using his voice — his singing voice! — to pay a heartfelt tribute to George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. The soon to be 57-year-old Hollywood Vampires guitarist (his birthday is June 9) shared an Instagram video performing the 1964 Bob Dylan classic, “The Times They Are A-Changin.” He said that it “very strongly applies to the life altering image of George Floyd, forever seared to our brains.” Johnny called George a “sacrificial hero,” after the 46-year-old Black man’s horrific death following a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes during an arrest, as it has lead to Black Lives Matter rallies and racial injustice protests worldwide.
The video was actually taped at Johnny’s home in France for a May 9 COVID-19 benefit, but he shared it with fans via his Instagram page on June 7. He wrote in a lengthy caption that he believes Dylan’s masterpiece of a song applies to both the coronavirus pandemic, and how the world is changing following George’s incredibly disturbing death.
Johnny began in the caption by describing the history of Dylan’s song and how it heralded from another time when American society was undergoing a seismic change due to another public tragedy. “Two months before the world was subjected to the shocking live coverage of the merciless, bloodthirsty and public daylight murder of JFK in Nov. 1963, Bob Dylan sat down to write a song…He had a particular idea in mind, which he recorded mere weeks before Kennedy’s tragic assassination.”
“So he sat down and wrote the gold standard of protest songs, the seminal and most significant, mind boggling and staggeringly poetic, prophetic protest song the world will ever know: ‘The Times They Are A-Changin.’ Dylan’s song applies to COVID-19, it also, very strongly applies to the life altering image of George Floyd, forever seared to our brains,” Johnny explained. Bystanders took cellphone video of handcuffed George desperately pleading that he couldn’t breathe, as Officer Derek Chauvin continued to kneel on his neck. Derek was immediately fired and has since been charged with second degree murder in George’s death.
“For me, it applies to the moment we are in, it applies to the moment they were in in 1963, it applies to everything before and everything since and everything that will be,” Johnny continued, when describing what the Dylan song means to him. He went on to explain that, “I chose to perform this song live, for my friend @drbarbarasturm Covid benefit several weeks ago…I didn’t really know how to play it, but I figured I’d give it a shot, as it seemed to apply so well.”
“And it applies now, more than ever. It was performed a couple of weeks before our collective paralysis was rendered complete by the images of our fellow human George Floyd being cruelly and brutally tortured to death on TV.” Johnny then asked, “Let us take a moment to remember the sacrificial hero George Floyd and look with hope towards the changes that his tragic death will cause. And let’s salute the reluctant prophet Bob Dylan and the dream of change he inspired then, now, and onwards.” You can watch Johnny’s moving performance in the above video.