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 Post subject: Track Talk 253 Hurricane
PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 02:03 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
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I know I open Pandora's Box with this one, but it must be discussed....

http://www.zappinternet.com/video/royHz ... icane-Live

Pistol 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 somethin’ that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Three bodies lyin’ there does Patty see
And another man named Bello, movin’ around mysteriously
“I didn’t do it,” he says, and he throws up his hands
“I was only robbin’ the register, I hope you understand
I saw them leavin’,” 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 flashin’
In the hot New Jersey night

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin’ 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 Paterson that’s just the way things go
If you’re black you might as well not show up on the street
’Less you wanna draw the heat

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin’ around
He said, “I saw two men runnin’ 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 mornin’ and they haul Rubin in
Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin’ eye
Says, “Wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy!”
Yes, here’s the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ 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, fightin’ for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley’s still in the robbery game
And the cops are puttin’ the screws to him, lookin’ 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 that you saw runnin’ that night?”
“Don’t forget that you are white”

Arthur Dexter Bradley said, “I’m really not sure”
Cops said, “A poor boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we’re talkin’ to your friend Bello
Now you don’t wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow
You’ll be doin’ society a favor
That sonofabitch is brave and gettin’ 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 D.A. 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 in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

According to co-writer Jacques Levy,
'Bob wasn't sure that he could write a song [about Carter].... 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.'

Personally, I'm torn on the song. I think it's a chilling piece of writing, with some amazing imagery and a conviction and raw power that cannot be denied. If I were living at the time of release, I know I would be on the front lines of this protest with this song boiling in my veins. But I wasn't alive...
And this song more than any from the period always leaves me wanting. I'm not sure what it is, is it the controversial case itself, the distance the song now has from its subject after all these years, or is it the fact that Bob abandoned it long ago? Not sure...
Regardless, I really look forward to the discussion that follows:)

As for great versions, the John Hammond version I posted above is the finest IMO. So passionately scary how intense (and maybe high?) Bob is.
But the one that brought my mind to this song was given to me by Bennyboy and his gift of the perfect recording of Madison Square Garden. I hear the story in a new way here. Bob delivers it with such a vengeance that it must have moved every soul in that arena to look at this tabloid in a wholly different way....

New York NY
December 8 1975
http://www.sendspace.com/file/4okh5g

Alright give it up. Let's talk Hurricane. Some call it his finest, some call it trash. Where do you stand on this song?


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 02:15 GMT 
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A great song, but a worthless historical document. And I feel like it tried hard to be the latter.


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 02:32 GMT 
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Great tune, and imagery (as you mentioned). Whenever this song came on the radio in one of my early 1980s road trips, my buddies and I would be-- "sweet. The next, like, 12 minutes of this major long ass drive are covered." Something doesn't ring true about it for me, though--beyond the distortion of the facts--stretching the "truth" is something Dylan has always done, often to great effect (Chronicles). It's like he went looking for another cause to rekindle early 60s magic or something. Maybe not. That MSG performance is the tops.


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 02:37 GMT 
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it's a fine performance by Dylan and he achieved his goal with it. There's plenty of Levy in the writing and Levy was all about novelistic detail to the degree that the thrust was lost. I think there's an original take that I slightly prefer. I had the 45 which was pretty weird because you had to flip it to hear the whole thing!


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 05:05 GMT 
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As a kid, it bugged me that people at high school knew this song among the few. But now, that's part of its charm for me.

I've always been open to the idea that the intent of this song isn't what it initially seems, given that it's on the same record as "Joey" and "Mozambique" (to my ears, Desire really plays around with point of view-- think of the last verse of "Black Diamond Bay" for example!).

Does anybody else enjoy the way that "Joey" foils the "Hurricane" track? When I heard "Joey," I thought of "Hurricane" completely differently because the praise is so undeserved in "Joey." It's almost as though "Joey" patronizes the "Hurricane" ditty in a way.

What a record though! For me, it's one my friends and I loved almost more than any other ...but only for a spell, and then we got over it a little bit.

Loose Fur


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 06:11 GMT 
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The sounds of Scarlet Rivera's violin and Emmylou Harris' vocals have always defined this song for me. On BOTT Dylan started writing songs that were almost novels ("Tangled Up In Blue"); here, on "Hurricane" and "Joey", it's like he's applying that approach to the idea of the outlaw ballad ("Jesse James" "Pretty Boy Floyd" "John Wesley Harding"). There's also something about "Hurricane" that makes me thing of "Hattie Carroll". Perhaps "Joey" is more like an exploded outlaw ballad, all those guys - Jesse James, Pretty Boy Floyd, John Wesley Hardin - were real life psychotic murderers like Gallo. "Hurricane" is more like "Hattie Carroll" for it's distortion of history.


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 06:49 GMT 
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Writing good songs > Historical accuracy.


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 16:44 GMT 
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The song has some of the stupidest lines this side of How Much Is That Doggie in the Window. It's a catalogue of bad writing from start to finish. Perhaps the most egregious is the dreadful comparison of Carter to Buddha. By any account, except possibly his own, Carter was a violent and unstable personality, capable of beating a defenseless woman--the sole person he ever "took out with just one punch", in a hell of his own making. One might as well compare Jack the Ripper to Jesus.

Other crimes against music and language:

"they took him to the jailhouse/where they try to turn a man into a mouse" is one of the most idiotic lines in popular song, reducing what is supposed to be a sympathetic rendering of an "innocent man" in a "living hell" to an impotent cliche

"Up to some paradise/where the trout streams flow and the air is nice" --streams by their very nature "flow" and "nice" is the worst rhyme available to "paradise" as well as the least expressive predicate adjetive for "air"

"or ride a horse along a trail"--a ridiculous and irrelevant image made all the more hilariously bad by the clip-clop percussion while the line is sung.

"Here comes the story of the Hurricane/the man the authorities came to blame/for somethin' that he never done" --this is how propaganda announces itself, tells you what to think, in a phony vernacular, before that "story" is actually told. The stupidity is compounded by every pointless repetition and variation of these lines. A competent storyteller doesn't announce he's telling a story over and over. This is just careless, awful writing by someone who ought to care more and to know better but clearly does neither.

Dylan was suckered by Hurricane Carter, and passes along the sucker nonsense to his fans. The song is an appalling misuse of music and language, seducing with self-righteousness and sentimentality, and the fact that it is so badly composed indicates the possibility that unconsciously Dylan had no real investment in the song or the subject but was taking the easiest route to pandering to an audience expectation and exploiting a convicted murderer. The real indictment of the song is of Dylan himself as a false prophet, and his only saving grace is that he hasn't performed it since 1976.


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 17:16 GMT 
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harmonica albert wrote:
The song has some of the stupidest lines this side of How Much Is That Doggie in the Window.
:lol:

Oh well... you're probably right but I still would love to hear a NET version though I'm fairly certain that as a cowboy/shuffle/blues it would lose a portion of its charm.


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 19:28 GMT 

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Untrodden Path wrote:
harmonica albert wrote:
The song has some of the stupidest lines this side of How Much Is That Doggie in the Window.
:lol:

Oh well... you're probably right but I still would love to hear a NET version though I'm fairly certain that as a cowboy/shuffle/blues it would lose a portion of its charm.


i dont know but is bob aloud to play this song anymore? didn't he get sued for it?


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 20:04 GMT 
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What better place to play a song about human rights violations... it'll show solidarity that they happen in the United States too. Certainly this would be seen as a propaganda victory for the Chinese.


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 20:55 GMT 
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harmonica albert wrote:
The song has some of the stupidest lines this side of How Much Is That Doggie in the Window. It's a catalogue of bad writing from start to finish. Perhaps the most egregious is the dreadful comparison of Carter to Buddha. By any account, except possibly his own, Carter was a violent and unstable personality, capable of beating a defenseless woman--the sole person he ever "took out with just one punch", in a hell of his own making. One might as well compare Jack the Ripper to Jesus.

Other crimes against music and language:

"they took him to the jailhouse/where they try to turn a man into a mouse" is one of the most idiotic lines in popular song, reducing what is supposed to be a sympathetic rendering of an "innocent man" in a "living hell" to an impotent cliche

"Up to some paradise/where the trout streams flow and the air is nice" --streams by their very nature "flow" and "nice" is the worst rhyme available to "paradise" as well as the least expressive predicate adjetive for "air"

"or ride a horse along a trail"--a ridiculous and irrelevant image made all the more hilariously bad by the clip-clop percussion while the line is sung.

"Here comes the story of the Hurricane/the man the authorities came to blame/for somethin' that he never done" --this is how propaganda announces itself, tells you what to think, in a phony vernacular, before that "story" is actually told. The stupidity is compounded by every pointless repetition and variation of these lines. A competent storyteller doesn't announce he's telling a story over and over. This is just careless, awful writing by someone who ought to care more and to know better but clearly does neither.

Dylan was suckered by Hurricane Carter, and passes along the sucker nonsense to his fans. The song is an appalling misuse of music and language, seducing with self-righteousness and sentimentality, and the fact that it is so badly composed indicates the possibility that unconsciously Dylan had no real investment in the song or the subject but was taking the easiest route to pandering to an audience expectation and exploiting a convicted murderer. The real indictment of the song is of Dylan himself as a false prophet, and his only saving grace is that he hasn't performed it since 1976.


lol


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PostPosted: Thu March 31st, 2011, 21:56 GMT 
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Jesse James was a lad that killed many a man,
He robbed the Glendale train,
He stole from the rich and he gave to the poor,
He'd a hand and a heart and a brain.

Well it was Robert Ford, that dirty little coward,
I wonder how he feel,
For he ate of Jesse's bread and he slept in Jesse's bed,
Then he laid poor Jesse in his grave.

Well Jesse had a wife to mourn for his life
Three children now they were brave
Well that dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard
He laid poor Jesse in his grave

Jesse was a man, a friend to the poor,
He'd never rob a mother or a child
There never was a man with the law in his hand
That could take Jesse James alive

It was on a Saturday night and the moon was shining bright,
They robbed the Glendale train,
And people they did say o'er many miles away
It was those outlaws,Ther're Frank and Jesse James

Now the people held their breath when they heard of Jesse's death,
And wondered how he ever came to fall
Robert Ford,It was a fact,He shot Jesse in the back
While Jesse hung a picture on the wall

Now Jesse went to rest with his hand on his breast,
The devil will be upon his knee.
He was born one day in the County Clay,
And he came from a solitary race.

============================================================

John Wesley Harding
Was a friend to the poor
He trav’led with a gun in ev’ry hand
All along this countryside
He opened many a door
But he was never known
To hurt an honest man

’Twas down in Chaynee County
A time they talk about
With his lady by his side
He took a stand
And soon the situation there
Was all but straightened out
For he was always known
To lend a helping hand

All across the telegraph
His name it did resound
But no charge held against him
Could they prove
And there was no man around
Who could track or chain him down
He was never known
To make a foolish move


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PostPosted: Fri April 1st, 2011, 00:54 GMT 

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harmonica albert wrote:
The song has some of the stupidest lines this side of How Much Is That Doggie in the Window. It's a catalogue of bad writing from start to finish. Perhaps the most egregious is the dreadful comparison of Carter to Buddha. By any account, except possibly his own, Carter was a violent and unstable personality, capable of beating a defenseless woman--the sole person he ever "took out with just one punch", in a hell of his own making. One might as well compare Jack the Ripper to Jesus.

Other crimes against music and language:

"they took him to the jailhouse/where they try to turn a man into a mouse" is one of the most idiotic lines in popular song, reducing what is supposed to be a sympathetic rendering of an "innocent man" in a "living hell" to an impotent cliche

"Up to some paradise/where the trout streams flow and the air is nice" --streams by their very nature "flow" and "nice" is the worst rhyme available to "paradise" as well as the least expressive predicate adjetive for "air"

"or ride a horse along a trail"--a ridiculous and irrelevant image made all the more hilariously bad by the clip-clop percussion while the line is sung.

"Here comes the story of the Hurricane/the man the authorities came to blame/for somethin' that he never done" --this is how propaganda announces itself, tells you what to think, in a phony vernacular, before that "story" is actually told. The stupidity is compounded by every pointless repetition and variation of these lines. A competent storyteller doesn't announce he's telling a story over and over. This is just careless, awful writing by someone who ought to care more and to know better but clearly does neither.

Dylan was suckered by Hurricane Carter, and passes along the sucker nonsense to his fans. The song is an appalling misuse of music and language, seducing with self-righteousness and sentimentality, and the fact that it is so badly composed indicates the possibility that unconsciously Dylan had no real investment in the song or the subject but was taking the easiest route to pandering to an audience expectation and exploiting a convicted murderer. The real indictment of the song is of Dylan himself as a false prophet, and his only saving grace is that he hasn't performed it since 1976.


I sort of agree with a lot of that, but I would say : it's a song that comes on like a movie - and as has been pointed out before that's why it has that refrain "Here comes the story of the Hurricane", it's announcing the upcoming attraction - and it's crude and crass and overblown and simplistic, full of broad brushtrokes - but I think it's a deliberate effect of the song as written, not a lack of rigour as the writing progressed. It may have been a misjudgement to conceive of such a song about that subject, but I think the song was fairly well realised - it's just a brash blockbuster of a song. Jacques Levy : "Bob wasn't sure that he could write a song [about Carter].... 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".

Interestingly, in a way I think the problem is that he sings it too well. Hurricane as written is pretty similar to Joey - but it's sung so brilliantly and with such conviction that odd lines about riding a horse along a trail ring false, whereas in Joey similarly slightly ridiculous lines - he could see it coming as he lifted up his fork - don't jar, because the overall tone is cartoonish.
Also, it's fine to say "where the trout streams flow" - streams can be described in plenty of other ways with different effects : they can be frozen, they can run, and they can even cascade, but "flow" easily conjures a bit of tranquility. Although I maybe shouldn't bother defending any line about trout streams.


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PostPosted: Fri April 1st, 2011, 01:48 GMT 
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Long Johnny wrote:
The sounds of Scarlet Rivera's violin and Emmylou Harris' vocals have always defined this song for me.


Emmylou doesn't sing on this track at all. Ronee Blakely sings the backing/harmony vocals.


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PostPosted: Fri April 1st, 2011, 06:31 GMT 
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marker wrote:

As for great versions, the John Hammond version I posted above is the finest IMO. So passionately scary how intense (and maybe high?) Bob is.
But the one that brought my mind to this song was given to me by Bennyboy and his gift of the perfect recording of Madison Square Garden. I hear the story in a new way here. Bob delivers it with such a vengeance that it must have moved every soul in that arena to look at this tabloid in a wholly different way....

New York NY
December 8 1975
http://www.sendspace.com/file/4okh5g

Alright give it up. Let's talk Hurricane. Some call it his finest, some call it trash. Where do you stand on this song?


Amen to that brother.
Dylan at the zenith, this song his rolling thunder commandment.
Words are futile. You only have to have ears that are open.


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PostPosted: Fri April 1st, 2011, 21:53 GMT 
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marker wrote:
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 mornin’ and they haul Rubin in
Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin’ eye
Says, “Wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy!”


Another example of the poor writing this song is really made of.
In the first verse Dylan seems to criticise the authorities for thinking that a heavily injured man could somehow serve as a reliable witnes in a criminal affair.
Yet only a verse later he is calling on this persons judgement to defent his 'client'.

Either the injured person is to be considered as a serious witness or he is not to be considered as one.
If you choose the first option, the first verse becomes hollow and meaningless, Dylans criticism unwarranted.
If you choose the second option, the second verse suffers the same fate: why would you use the judgement of an unreliable source to proove your case.

But Dylan wants to have his cake and eat it: so he discredits the very witness on whose judgement he calls in defence for Rubin Carter. Just imagine the comic effect you would get if a lawyer did just that during a trial in court.


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PostPosted: Fri April 1st, 2011, 22:08 GMT 
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Some people think this song is about an actual hurricane. A very large storm that has strong winds able to blow over trees. But it's not. Instead, cleverly, it about a boxer who is wrongly imprisoned in jail for a crime that he never commited.


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PostPosted: Fri April 1st, 2011, 22:11 GMT 
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andy1983 wrote:
Another example of the poor writing this song is really made of.
In the first verse Dylan seems to criticise the authorities for thinking that a heavily injured man could somehow serve as a reliable witnes in a criminal affair.
Yet only a verse later he is calling on this persons judgement to defent his 'client'.

Either the injured person is to be considered as a serious witness or he is not to be considered as one.
If you choose the first option, the first verse becomes hollow and meaningless, Dylans criticism unwarranted.
If you choose the second option, the second verse suffers the same fate: why would you use the judgement of an unreliable source to proove your case.

But Dylan wants to have his cake and eat it: so he discredits the very witness on whose judgement he calls in defence for Rubin Carter. Just imagine the comic effect you would get if a lawyer did just that during a trial in court.


The cops try to use a man who can barely see as a witness to convict Carter (knowing very well his testimony would be less reliable). However, it is so obvious that Carter was not the perpetrator that even the near-blind witness realized it instantly.

That's one way you could look at it, anyway.


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PostPosted: Fri April 1st, 2011, 22:34 GMT 
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MookieBlaylock wrote:

The cops try to use a man who can barely see as a witness to convict Carter (knowing very well his testimony would be less reliable). However, it is so obvious that Carter was not the perpetrator that even the near-blind witness realized it instantly.

That's one way you could look at it, anyway.


I suppose that was indeed more or less the effect Dylan and Levy were after, but to me the actual text doesn't quite achieve this. So much emphasis is put on the absolutely terrible situation the witness was in - the cops are suprised he's not dead, he can barely see and looks at Carter with his 'one dying eye' -, that I can't help but wonder why you would call on him.

Just imagine a lawyer using this type of argumentation in a court of law: first he explains to the jury the terrible physical state a witness was in, making sure they realise he was in no state of mind to be able to objectively evaluate any information. And yet directly after that the witness' account is brought forward as (circumstancial) evidence.


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PostPosted: Fri April 1st, 2011, 22:44 GMT 
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Davy wrote:
Long Johnny wrote:
The sounds of Scarlet Rivera's violin and Emmylou Harris' vocals have always defined this song for me.


Emmylou doesn't sing on this track at all. Ronee Blakely sings the backing/harmony vocals.


You bloody Scots get on my effing nerves... always pointing out inaccuracies and errors.

Instead of embarrassing Americans and highlighting their gross errors you should bugger off and start paying for medical prescriptions like us normal, hard-working, christian Englishmen.


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PostPosted: Sat April 2nd, 2011, 00:33 GMT 
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I must have been thinking about the original studio version that got pulled for a lyric change; on the boot "Odds and Ends." I do believe Emmylou sings on everything else on "Desire."


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PostPosted: Sat April 2nd, 2011, 01:11 GMT 
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I like to sing this song around my five-year-old niece.
Here are the lyric changes I've made:

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin’ around
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
(Had no idea a bamboozle was about to go down)

You’ll be doin’ society a favor
That son-of-a-bitch is brave and gettin’ braver
(That two-bit hoodlum is brave and gettin’ braver)
We want to put his ass in stir
(We want to put his tail in stir)

And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger
(And to the black folks he was not a martyred figure)
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger

While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell
(An innocent man in a crowbar hotel)


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PostPosted: Sat April 27th, 2013, 23:51 GMT 
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From today's front page:
April 26, 2013

Bob Dylan is a poet, even in the john
My 1975 post-flush exchange with legendary songwriter Bob Dylan

by Peter Gerstenzang @happyspappy



I once talked to Bob Dylan.

Sure, lots of you could probably say the same thing. But in your case, it was probably from the eighth row, screaming, 'What the hell are you're playin'?' Or, wired to the tits on purple owsley, staring at the cover of Blonde On Blonde, maybe wondering aloud what Bob's scarf symbolized. Perhaps you saw Dylan walking through Manhattan and misquoted something from the New Testament at him. Or told him at Halloween you dressed your brother up like a mule, complete with jewels and binoculars. And Dylan (who is set for a May 1 concert at the Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre), wisely, kept walking.

But I actually spoke to the guy once — in the Folk City bathroom — and he spoke back. Yes, I talked to Bob in the john. He was as brief, mystical and sarcastic as you might expect. At least I think he was sarcastic. The way Dylan's sentences always seem to arch upward, he always sounds either philosophical or snotty. Either way. We had an exchange.

It was 1975 and I had just quit college to try and be a singer/songwriter. You know, the gig Dylan invented. He made it seem cool, streetwise and mesmerizing. Years later, John Mayer turned it into the musical version of the Moe Howard two-finger eye poke.

Several friends and I got a loft in this new area of Manhattan called Soho, all wanting to be the Voice Of Our Generation (nothing contrived there), a quest as elusive and frustrating as going to McDonald's with the hope of finding the McRib sandwich. Still, Richie, Michael and I wrote some good songs about experiences we hadn't had yet and played them at bars, clubs and other venues.

One of them was Gerde's Folk City, where Dylan played his first professional gig. In 1975, it was a place where I was playing my original songs every Tuesday night. I was under the spell of Bruce Springsteen in those days. So, even though I was from the suburbs, many of these tunes revolved around some guy who wore Chuck Taylors, talked tough and inferred that he'd participated, peripherally, in a gang fight — often as the guy who says, 'Cheese it, here comes the fuzz!'

Considering my diction was fairly close to William F. Buckley and I wore penny loafers, none of this was going down too well. And it didn't help that I wore an earring that I borrowed from my nana. And it was a clip-on. Still, the tunes were good and I was determined to get discovered and signed there before going on and recording what was called an "album," during this, the Pleistocene Era.

I was young and optimistic and writing fanatically. I was also woken up one night around midnight, by Michael, one of my loft buddies. Michael was small but tough, with a full beard and hair parted in the middle. I liked him regardless, but what really made me want to hang out with him was he'd spent time in 'juvie,' and seemed to really know about jail. And what he didn't know, he made up. I figured just hanging with the guy gave me the street cred that a private school education, a big house and a Golden Retriever named "Plimpton" couldn't. But here's the thing, the hook, as we say in songwriting. That night, Michael had big, startling, Kennedy assassination conspiracy-style news.

"Man, I just came back from Folk City," Michael said, shaking me awake. "Dylan is onstage right now. I also saw Mick Ronson, Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn and a whole bunch of other motherfuckers! Wake up and let's get down there!"

I should mention that for all his talent and good-hearted bonhomie, Michael sometimes found himself in direct conflict with reality. He was no worse than say, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, but without the desire to shoot the president because he wasn't protecting our redwoods. Luckily, my other roommate, Richie, was home, too.

Richie (who is now esteemed songwriter Rich Deans), was our reality factor. Make that cynical factor. This good-looking guy wrote and spoke in a way that made H.L. Mencken sound like a Camp Fire Girl.

Still, he loved Dylan. And since we had nothing going on, we decided to better get over to Gerde's-post haste! In fact, I put a leather jacket over my T-shirt and kept on my pajama bottoms. Considering what I often wore to Folk City, this was actually a step up. You know, I looked like Lou Reed, just waking up from a nap.

Dressed and as excited as a couple of hopheads from a Kerouac novel, off we ran to see if Bob Dylan was really there, or if Michael had just forgotten to take his meds.

Ten minutes later, we were at the club. McGuinn was indeed onstage with 'Ronno.' Joan Baez was sitting at a table, probably horrified that both men were playing electric guitars. And one had glitter on his eyelids. But Folk City was strangely listless, half-empty and certainly not Dylanesque. Dylanless was more like it.

I was depressed. I was exhausted. I was wearing my jammies, for Christ's sake. "Michael," I said, between blasts of my inhaler, "why did you do this to me?"

And just as I wheezed out the last few words, Mick Ronson, the only Englishman I've ever met who needed subtitles, said into the mic, "Hey, Bob. You wanna coomb up and play that new song of yours?"


Then, as if he'd been hanging, bat-like, from the ceiling, there was Bob Dylan. Wearing a leather jacket over a striped seaman's shirt, jeans, his Jewfro messy enough to betray the fact that he didn't use Afro-Sheen. He huddled with Ronno and Roger for a minute and then launched into that new song. All about a boxer named Rubin Carter, who I actually knew of. I'd read a story about his seemingly trumped-up prison sentence. And who Michael, our resident jailbird who claimed to know everybody (except me, when he owed me money), said he'd done some time with.

Bob and the boys launched into the story of "The Hurricane," his first socially angry song in years, with a great groove and a chorus you didn't forget after one listen. The club went absolutely cuckoo. And, although we didn't know it, this was the night that was the embryo which would soon turn into that wild, screaming baby, the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.

About 31 verses later, the rocking, intense tune ended. Everybody was elated, laughing, wondering if they'd just imagined what they had seen. Dylan slipped off the stage without much notice, no expression on his face.
I ordered a beer, made a few smart remarks to people who commented on my PJ's and then decided to head to the bathroom.

That's where it happened.

As I walked into Folk City's john, which was so disgusting I think it was the inspiration for the Hazmat suit, I heard a flush and there, facing me, was Mr. Bob Dylan. Yes, crazy Dylan worshippers. Bob urinates just like the next guy.

For a second, we stood face-to-face. I didn't want to gush, or genuflect or do anything goofier than standing in front of Dylan in my pajama bottoms. So, I decided to get all irreverent on his ass. Having just heard his song, acting like the Evil Dylan (or is that redundant), I said, "Bob, what do you know about Hurricane Carter?"

Dylan, notoriously tight-lipped, looked at me for what seemed the entire length of "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands." Then, with the faintest smirk, he stared at me. And said: "What do you know about Hurricane Carter?"

Yes, guys, even in a bathroom so horrific, it could cause your grandkids to have birth defects, Bob said these words with that slightly mocking, slightly sincere, Minnesota, Marge Gunderson inflection. I think he winked. I cannot remember if he washed his hands. But since he wasn't about to make me a sandwich, who cared?

When I recovered and walked out, the club was still undulating, but Bob was gone. It didn't matter. I was one of the few people (who had not been professionally assigned) to ask Bob Dylan a question and get a perfect Bob Dylan answer. I knew that going home and reading about Hurricane Carter would not help.

Bob did what he's done for the lucky for 50 years now. He's asked us things that at first seem simple, but, upon further reflection, could baffle the great philosophers of the world — The Dali Lama, Noam Chomsky, the guy who said, "The rent's too damn high."

I knew something now. That not everything could be explained. Or revealed. And some things were better if they weren't. I'd have to think for myself from now on. It wouldn't be easy. It still isn't. But, uh, I'm working on it.


http://clclt.com/charlotte/bob-dylan-is ... id=3075547


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PostPosted: Sat August 5th, 2017, 08:31 GMT 
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Joined: Wed December 16th, 2009, 12:57 GMT
Posts: 820
I read on Behind the shades (if I recall correctly) that the album version of this track is a pale shadow of what they did with the song a few days before.
Apparently they cut a super-tight, magical version, but then the lawyers said they could be in trouble, due to some line about Patty Valentine, I think, so they had to go and re-cut it with slight changes on the lyrics, and were disappointed with the results.
Have the previous versions circulated?


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