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Hurricane - Bob Dylan

Hurricane

Desire
folk classic rock rock singer-songwriter Bob Dylan


Hurricane is a protest song by Bob Dylan co-written with Jacques Levy, about the imprisonment of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. It compiles alleged acts of racism and profiling against Carter, which Dylan describes as leading to a false trial and conviction. Dylan's Desire opens with "Hurricane", arguably the most popular song on the 1976 release. Named after former middleweight contender Rubin Carter, Dylan had been inspired to write it after reading Carter's autobiography, The Sixteenth Round, which Carter had sent him "because of his prior commitment to the civil rights struggle." Carter and a man named John Artis had been charged with a triple murder which occurred in the Lafayette Grill, Paterson, New Jersey in 1966. Widely reported as a racially motivated crime, Carter and Artis were found guilty of committing the murders, and both were sentenced to four consecutive life sentences. In the years that followed, a substantial amount of controversy emerged over the case, ranging from allegations of faulty evidence and questionable eyewitness testimony to an unfair trial. In his autobiography, Carter maintained his innocence, and his story eventually led Dylan to visit him in Rahway State Prison in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey. Dylan had written topical ballads before, including, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" and "The Death of Emmett Till", but according to Jacques Levy, he wasn't sure that he could write a song.... "He was just filled with all these feelings about Hurricane. He couldn't make the first step. I think the first step was putting the song in a total storytelling mode. I don't remember whose idea it was to do that. But really, the beginning of the song is like stage directions, like what you would read in a script: 'Pistol shots ring out in a barroom night.... Here comes the story of the Hurricane.' Boom! Titles. You know, Bob loves movies, and he can write these movies that take place in eight to ten minutes, yet seem as full or fuller than regular movies." After meeting with Carter in prison and meeting a group of his supporters, Dylan began to write "Hurricane" in a "cinematic" style. This song was one of Dylan's few protest songs of the 1970s and was his fourth most successful single of the 70s, reaching #33 on the Billboard chart. Dylan was forced to rerecord the song, with altered lyrics, after concerns were raised by Columbia's lawyers that references that Alfred Bello and Arthur Dexter Bradley "robbed the bodies" could result in a lawsuit. Neither Bello nor Bradley were ever accused of such acts. Because there was too much leakage on the multitracks to make a vocal "punch in", Dylan decided to re-record the entire song. At this time, Dylan was already rehearsing for his upcoming tour, and the musicians from the Rolling Thunder Revue were still at his disposal. Dylan took them back into the studio, and a new, faster version of "Hurricane" was recorded again with Don Meehan at the board, with Ronee Blakley providing a harmony vocal. There were no edits in the song that ran over seven minutes. Even though some offending lyrics were rewritten, the song still drew some legal action, from eyewitness Patricia Graham Valentine. Her lawsuit was dismissed by a federal district court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal. Even with the revised lyrics, "Hurricane" still raised controversy; detractors criticized the song for omitting any reference to Carter's criminal history as well as documented evidence of his antagonistic rhetoric and violent temper. There were other inaccuracies, including Carter's description as the "number one contender"; according to the May 1966 issue of Ring Magazine, he was ranked no higher than ninth around the time of his arrest. Mike Cleveland of the Herald-News and a number of other critics questioned Dylan's objectivity at the time of the song's release. The Herald-News reporter Cal Deal, who covered Carter's case between 1975 and 1976 and interviewed Carter in August and December of 1975, later accused Dylan of a strong bias towards Carter while employing a significant amount of artistic license.


Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, United States) is an American musician, poet and artist whose position in popular culture is unique. Dylan started his musical odyssey in 1959 when he began playing in Dinkytown, Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. Shortly after starting to play he changed his stage name to Bob Dylan, after being influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas before legally changing his name in 1962. Show more ...

Hurricane - Bob Dylan

Pistols shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood
Cries out "My God they killed them all"
Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For something that he never done
Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

Three bodies lying there does Patty see
And another man named Bello moving around mysteriously
"I didn't do it" he says and he throws up his hands
"I was only robbing the register I hope you understand
I saw them leaving" he says and he stops
"One of us had better call up the cops"
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashing
In the hot New Jersey night.

Meanwhile far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are driving around
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that
In Patterson that's just the way things go
If you're black you might as well not shown up on the street
'Less you wanna draw the heat.

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the corps
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowling around
He said "I saw two men running out they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates"
And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head
Cop said "Wait a minute boys this one's not dead"
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him that he could identify the guilty men.

Four in the morning and they haul Rubin in
Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs
The wounded man looks up through his one dying eye
Says "Wha'd you bring him in here for ? He ain't the guy !"
Yes here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For something that he never done
Put in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

Four months later the ghettos are in flame
Rubin's in South America fighting for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley's still in the robbery game
And the cops are putting the screws to him looking for somebody to blame
"Remember that murder that happened in a bar ?"
"Remember you said you saw the getaway car?"
"You think you'd like to play ball with the law ?"
"Think it might-a been that fighter you saw running that night ?"
"Don't forget that you are white".

Arthur Dexter Bradley said "I'm really not sure"
Cops said "A boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we're talking to your friend Bello
Now you don't wanta have to go back to jail be a nice fellow
You'll be doing society a favor
That sonofabitch is brave and getting braver
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain't no Gentleman Jim".

Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much
It's my work he'd say and I do it for pay
And when it's over I'd just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse.

All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus he never had a chance
The judge made Rubin's witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger
And though they could not produce the gun
The DA said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed.

Rubin Carter was falsely tried
The crime was murder 'one' guess who testified
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers they all went along for the ride
How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool's hand ?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell
That's the story of the Hurricane
But it won't be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he's done
Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.



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