Although it has been described as a protest song, it poses a series of rhetorical questions about peace, war and freedom. The refrain "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind" has been described as "impenetrably ambiguous: either the answer is so obvious it is right in your face, or the answer is as intangible as the wind".
Critics have described the track as revolutionary in its combination of different musical elements, the youthful, cynical sound of Dylan's voice, and the directness of the question "How does it feel?" "Like a Rolling Stone" transformed Dylan's image from folk singer to rock star, and is considered one of the most influential compositions in postwar popular music. Rolling Stone magazine listed the song at number one in their "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list
The song has been criticized for supposed misogyny in its lyrics.Alan Rinzler, in his book Bob Dylan: The Illustrated Record, describes the song as "a devastating character assassination...the most sardonic, nastiest of all Dylan's putdowns of former lovers[ In 1971, New York Times writer Marion Meade wrote that "there's no more complete catalogue of sexist slurs," and went on to note that in the song Dylan "defines women's natural traits as greed, hypocrisy, whining and hysteria.[ Dylan biographer Robert Shelton noted that "the title is a male platitude that justifiably angers women," although Shelton believed that "Dylan is ironically toying with that platitude."
The song describes the collapse of a deputy sheriff; dying from a bullet wound, he tells his wife "Mama, take this badge off of me; I can't use it anymore." (...) In 1996 and with the consent of Bob Dylan, Scottish musician Ted Christopher wrote a new verse for "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" in memory of the schoolchildren and teacher killed in the Dunblane school massacre. This has been, according to some sources, one of the few times Dylan has officially authorized anybody to add or change the lyrics to one of his songs.