March 27, 2020

I listened to Dylan's new song twice now — that's 34 minutes of listening — and I'm almost ready to talk about the lyrics.

I need to hear things about 5 times to have a decent feeling of understanding, but I'm going to try anyway, with the help of the written text, here (at Genius, where there are some annotations, but they're not at all time-tested and I see inaccuracies at the first glance).

The song begins with JFK in Dallas, "led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb" and asking those who are leading him if they know who he is. They sure do, and "they blew off his head while he was still in the car." So, an unnamed group of men are responsible, but we're never told who they are. The motive was "unpaid debts" which they'd "come to collect." The killing was with "hatred" and mocking, and they've "already got someone here to take your place."

There are 4 verses (in my opinion) and they all end with the song title, "Murder most foul" (which is a phrase from "Hamlet"). Verse 1 ends: "Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl/Rub-a-dub-dub, it's a murder most foul." Why wolfman? I'm thinking Wolfman Jack, who shows up in verse 4. He's the deejay, and there's a lot more about American radio pop songs coming up. As for "Rub-a-dub-dub," why does a childish nursery rhyme phrase pop up amid all the dark seriousness?

Verse 2 answers my question. It begins by addressing us as children: "Hush, little children, you'll understand/The Beatles are comin', they're gonna hold your hand." There's the British invasion period, then Woodstock, then Altamont: "Put your head out the window, let the good times roll/There's a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll." We're being soothed by pop culture, but we're still reminded of the assassination: "What is the truth, and where did it go?/Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know/'Shut your mouth,' said a wise old owl/Business is business, and it's a murder most foul."

Time is passing but the assassination is still described in the present tense. Verse 3 begins with JFK (who died in 1963) using lines from The Who's "Tommy" (which came out in 1969):  "Tommy, can you hear me? I'm the Acid Queen/I'm riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine/Ridin' in the backseat next to my wife/Headed straight on into the afterlife." This verse has the line that felt to me like the key to understanding the song. Describing the autopsy — "they took out his brain" — Bob sings, "But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at." Now, if he went straight into the afterlife, why was his soul "supposed" to be inside his skull? We're told that ever since Kennedy died, we've been searching for his soul. This seemed to me to mean that the soul is in all the other things about America that Dylan catalogues in the song: "Wake up, little Susie... You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy... I'm just a patsy like Patsy Cline..."

The catalogue continues, profusely, into the last long verse that I call verse 4 (but Genius separates into 4 and 5, creating an extra verse that doesn't end with "murder most foul”). I won't list all the references, but they go backwards and forwards into American pop culture. There are old things like "St. James Infirmary" and Buster Keaton, and there are things that post-date the assassination like Don Henley and Glenn Frey, along with continuing talk of the assassination. I particularly liked:
Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk
Charlie Parker and all that junk
All that junk and "All That Jazz"
Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz
And it must be important that the list ends like this:
Play darkness and death will come when it comes
Play "Love Me Or Leave Me" by the great Bud Powell
Play "The Blood-stained Banner," play "Murder Most Foul"
According to Rolling Stone:
Bud Powell was a wildly innovative jazz pianist of the Fifties and Sixties who died of tuberculosis in 1966, when he was just 41. “Love Me or Leave Me” is a 1928 Walter Davidson/Gus Kahn song from the Broadway play Whoopee! It was covered by everyone from Ruth Etting to Nina Simone to Ella Fitzgerald. It’s unclear, however, if there’s a version by Bud Powell. He certainly didn’t write it.
As for "The Blood-Stained Banner," if it's something that can be played — as opposed to one of the flags of the confederate states in the Civil War — it might be this:

Dylan's song ends with "play 'Murder Most Foul,'" which is telling us to play the very song that we are in fact listening to. I think we're being told that while we're sorting through the inscrutable complexities of painful historical events, we need to remember that the soul of America can be found in our endlessly beautiful popular culture that Bob Dylan feels honored to be part of.


Earnest Prole said...

I hate to tell you mister but only dead men are free

Darkisland said...

I have never been able to understand the sanctification of st jack. He was not our worst president but was still pretty mediocre. Vietnam, Cuba missiles, lbj to name 3 legacies that haunt us.

Not to mention lbj.

Dylan can be a terrific songwriter ("i had to do it all over again", many, many, others) but terribly overrated as a singer. I don't think he even reaches mediocre.

Dylan singing about kennedy? I'll pass, thank you.

John Henry

Darkisland said...

If i had to do it all over again, id do it all over you

John Henry

Dave64 said...

I have not been moved by a new piece of music as I was when I listened this morning to this song. This song reminded me of the first time I heard " American Pie" all those long years ago. Wow.

Sebastian said...

"So, an unnamed group of men are responsible, but we're never told who they are. The motive was "unpaid debts" which they'd "come to collect." The killing was with "hatred" and mocking,""

I figured he'd sidestep the actual motives and actual ideology of the actual killer. Still, a little disappointing.

Temujin said...

He's saying the soul of America died on that day in November 1963, and we've been searching for it ever since.

Cormac Kehoe said...

Did Wolfman Jack sya "Rub-a-dub-dub?" Is this what inventing memory is like?

Lurker21 said...

When I heard the song, it sounded like a chain of cliches. There's one. There's another. But seeing the lyrics on the page, it looks like something to be closely read and analyzed. I don't know if that's because I don't read much poetry or because I took too many lit classes, but my response is different depending on whether it's heard or read. There's more anxiety about what it means and conviction that it means something when I see it on the page. Maybe it's because hearing is linear and reading can jump around, or maybe it's because we take stuff in print more seriously than songs or speech. Annotated lyrics here.

Oliver Stone's JFK was trashy and dishonest, but that line "Do not forget your dying king" does a lot to explain the reasons for the JFK cult: there was something mythic and archetypal about the assassination. It didn't hurt that Kennedy was young and considered attractive and that reporters swooned over him.

Michael said...

Three men in a tub

Krumhorn said...

I never grasped the allure of Dylan. I'd admit to being a troglodyte, but I'll listen to Duruflé, Hindemith, Oscar Peterson, or Diana Krall all day.

- Krumhorn

Earnest Prole said...

Dylan’s 2001 album Love and Theft was released the same day as the September 11 attacks, and to this day I can’t listen to its songs (especially “High Water (For Charley Patton)” and “Sugar Baby”) without recalling a touch of the dread I felt that week. I suspect the same will be true years from now when I hear “Murder Most Foul,” assuming of course that I make it through this year alive.

narciso said...

ah diana krall, now we're talking, I went to a concert of hers in 2000, in a little venue in Miami beach, it had beem rescheduled because of a mountain climbing she had a week or two before,

Temujin said...

It is haunting. Haunting Americana. It left me with a very sad, big view of our cultural history. Haunting recording put out during these haunting times. And you know he knows exactly what he was doing.

By the way...apparently Wolfman Jack put out a record of his 'Goofy Greats'. Among the goofy hits on the album, Rub a Dub Dub by The Equals. Rub a Dub Dub

TheDopeFromHope said...

Any lyrics about that Commie bastard, Lee Harvey?

Amexpat said...

Gave it a second listen, this time reading the lyrics as he sings. Better impression this time, but the music still bothers me. It comes across as repetitive background music that has no connection to the lyrics. Sort of like the musical backing that was added to Dylan's reading of his Nobel Prize speech.

There are some good Dylanesque lines in the song, but his phrasing seems flat. Usually his phrasing accentuates points, creates tension or adds extra texture to a song. None of that here. Perhaps it was his intention to not do anything extra with the phrasing.

Iman said...

Dylan’s better when he shows the mythical for what they are.

rcocean said...

Durante: "So, Tell me Mr. James, what did you just accomplish?"

My pop culture reference for Mr. Bob Dylan

chickelit said...

I wonder about Dylan's timing for the release. I have two thoughts: First, perhaps he's wanted to release this song for a awhile now. Dylan's early career was connascent with the Kennedy era, and I can understand his abiding obsession for that reason alone. Maybe Dylan is feeling his own mortality and wants to get this out sooner rather than later.

Secondly, maybe Dylan is warning us about what could happen to the current President. When I listen to some people -- here and in real life, I see malevolence and such extreme TDS that could harbor violence. And these are just the superficial people. When someone like Chuck goes radio silent, what does it mean? Certainly not closure and acceptance. President Trump has got to have real enemies -- for example the bad hombres running cartels -- who would like nothing better than to take him out. And that would be HRC's (today's LBJ) cue to step in.

Temujin said...

The music is weird on this. There's really not much music there. And as I'm not a great Dylan fan, though as I've gotten older I've suddenly taken on more of an appreciation of his work. I started listening to it in cringe mode. But as it went on, either the music became more a part of it, or my brain started filling in more. It seemed like I could hear more music filling in and around the lyrics as it went on, so that it was not so much Dylan just reading his lines. It became more lyrical because of the music around it.

As I said, haunting. I will listen to it again over the next few days.

rhhardin said...

There are old things like "St. James Infirmary" and Buster Keaton

That's a reference to Onassis. Looking to buy a home in Hollywood, Onasses inspects Keaton's house. Caption: Aristotle contemplating the home of Buster.

Clyde said...

I made it through one minute and decided not to waste another sixteen.

Too many notes.

Will Cate said...

I'd definitely need to listen one more time, when I have time... I'm a fan; "Love and Theft" which someone mentioned above is among my favorites, also all his electric blues stuff from the 60s, and "Infidels" from the 80s.

Bay Area Guy said...

JFK & Fidel were like scorpions in a bottle. One got stung and died, the other lived till 90, with billions $$ and different beautiful Cuban gal every week.

Sometimes life ain't fair.

Dr Weevil said...

Forget Rolling Stone. Jazz writer Ted Gioia explains the Bud Powell reference on Twitter (link) with a link to a YouTube illustration: "Mr. Dylan is showing off his knowledge of jazz esoterica. Bud Powell never recorded 'Love Me or Leave Me' but his song 'Get It' is based on the same chord changes."

traditionalguy said...

The great communicator Bob Dylan perceives the great communicator Jack Kennedy 5x5. As does 45. The assassination most foul has already been avenged. Remember the letters from 45 handed out at George Bush’s funeral.

FTR: Jack Kennedy was a real U S Navy warrior and as President Suddenly found the Kennedy family at war with the Clowns in America under the Bush Family. Thanks to LBJ he was set up in Dallas for a crossfire of 7 gunman. The Japs could not kill him, but his own government did it quite skillfully. Bob Dylan is letting us know.

Kai Akker said...

"We mocked you and shocked you" ?

Did I hear that right? Genius site makes lyrics appear for split second before going to gray. Camelot was mocked and shocked? I never knew.

That was in first minute; I did the same as Clyde. OMG.

Rory said...

"...we need to remember that the soul of America can be found in our endlessly beautiful popular culture that Bob Dylan feels honored to be part of."

In that case we're screwed. We don't really have popular culture anymore, in the sense of something that the great majority of people recognize. The audiences get smaller and smaller, both the content and the marketing of artists get more and more targeted, so popular culture now creates insulation, if not antagonism.

Etienne said...

JFK??? Who gives a crap about JFK. If Oswald were still around, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer would never come out of their mansions.

Sing about Oswald! He did LBJ's and RSM's dirty work, and for his reward, they had the mob kill him on TV.

Sing about his poor wife and his two orphans. Sing about the 50,000 American peasants who died in the French rubber plantations of LBJ's and RSM's new partitioned Viet Nam.


Earnest Prole said...

If you’re interested in why a peculiar young man from Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range would years later write a peculiar song like “Murder So Foul,” read River of Ice excerpted from his autobiography Chronicles. It will reaffirm your love of America.

Jupiter said...

"JFK & Fidel were like scorpions in a bottle."

Not according to David Talbot.

Dr Weevil said...

The phrase "long black Lincoln limousine" looks like an allusion to the country song "Long Black Limousine". The Wikipedia article lists a bunch of men who've sung it (Elvis, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, The Grateful Dead), but it seems more appropriate for a woman singer. I know if from Ginny Hawker's album "Letters from My Father" (2001). Her vesion was in my Top 25 (of 25,000+) for years on iTunes and still would be if iTunes hadn't fucked up an update, deleted most of my music, and forced me to listen to CDs again. In her liner notes, Ginny Hawker says she got it from Buzz Busby, but it's not on the one CD of his I've been able to find. The notes also accurately describe her style as one that "reunites the musical first cousins - bluegrass, old-time, gospel, and honkey-tonk". Wikipedia tells me "Long Black Limousine" was written and first recorded by Vern Stovall, whoever he was, in 1961. Amazon has no CD by him, but does offer an MP3 of the song.

Here are the lyrics, from

"[Verse 1]
There's a long line of mourners coming down our street
Their fancy cars are such a sight to see
They're all of your rich friends that knew you in the city
And now they finally brought you back to me
The papers told of how you lost your life
Of the party and that fatal crash that night
The race on the highway the curve nobody seen

Now you're riding in that long black limousine

[Verse 2]
When you left home you told me that someday you'd be returning
With a fancy car for a whole town to see
Well now everybody's watching now and i guess you finally got your dream

You're riding in one of them long black limousines

[Verse 3]
Through tears i watch as you ride by
With a chauffeur at the wheel dressed up so fine
I'll never love another for my heart and all my dreams

Ride with you in that long black limousine..."

To spell out the obvious, only very successful people like presidents get to ride in the back of a long black limousine driven by a chauffeur when they're alive, but almost anyone can do it just once on the way to the graveyard.

Jupiter said...

"Any lyrics about that Commie bastard, Lee Harvey?"

"I'm just a patsy like Patsy Cline" is a reference to LHO.

Etienne said...

Lee wasn't a commie...

...He was a Marxist.

You know? The opposite of a fascist; like Stephen Miller; who currently camps out in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Big Mike said...

Jack Kennedy was assassinated by a hard core communist who had previously attempted to renounce his US citizenship and defect to the Soviet Union but returned to the US disillusioned by life in the Soviet Union but still believing in Marxism.


GingerBeer said...

"It's got a good beat and you can dance to it."

Adam2Smith said...

Young adults today don't remember 9/11. JFK assassination is about to join McKinley's in the dustbin of forgotten history.

Dr Weevil said...

P.S. Just checked Amazon, and there are now three Buzz Busby albums on CD, so I've ordered the two I don't already have. One of the songs on "Chronological Classics - 1953 to 1959" is titled "Take back your heart (I ordered liver)"! But "Long Black Limousine" isn't on any of the three. Haven't looked for an MP3 there or a YouTube version, but I'm sure there are plenty of choices for both.

Mark said...

My first and only exposure to this song was AA's headline.

That was more than enough to decide to never knowingly waste my time listening to it.

Etienne said...

"...never knowingly waste my time listening to it."

Did you read about how he spends all his royalties checks on music schools and musical instruments, for young artists wanting to join the music federation union?

Yea, me neither.

Chris N said...

I need to hear a cover of that Dylan duet with Pete Seeger doing a Woody Guthrie original with a Lennon sit in about the great Civil Rights wheel in the Sky, run by union labor, with Hippie love grease coating everything.

Then, at the Kennedy School of Government black-tie release of the film version, with Bono and some Davos folks, I can bathe in the bathos of modern myth-making and get some fundraising in.

Jon Ericson said...

He's predicting the future.
Same as the past.
We'll get over it with rap music this time.

Clyde said...

@ Dr Weevil

I knew the song "Long Black Limousine" from a Wynn Stewart compilation from 1958-62. He was the first to record it in 1958, but it wasn't released until years later. I got the album because I liked the song "Another Day, Another Dollar" when Volkswagen used it in a TV commercial in 2010. For anyone who is a fan of the Bakersfield sound, Wynn Stewart is a must have!

Oso Negro said...

Perhaps the cheese has slipped off the Dylan cracker.

Bruce Gee said...

I chuckled when I heard the lyric "Ferry Cross the Mersey" which was a Jerry and the Pacemakers hit sometime in the sixties. There was even a movie made featuring the song. Dylan really dredged up some memories.

tim in vermont said...

""Mr. Dylan is showing off his knowledge of jazz esoterica. Bud Powell never recorded 'Love Me or Leave Me' but his song 'Get It' is based on the same chord changes.”

Or maybe ‘Mr Dylan’ heard it as the same song because of the identical chord changes. I think the person "showing off his knowledge” is maybe Ted Gioia. IDK.

Lurker21 said...

JFK wasn't some heroic rebel who threatened the Establishment. He was the Establishment, or at least he aspired to be. He wasn't going to dismantle the military-industrial complex or threaten the oilmen or the bankers, and what he would have done about Vietnam is anybody's guess. My guess is that he'd go in, just as Johnson did, but try to disengage earlier than Johnson. He probably would have ended up unpopular and discredited like Johnson or Nixon, though with fewer achievements to his name.

traditionalguy said...

Dylan has reached the end of his career, similar toClint Eastwood, that gives them a freedom from fear of the attack slanders that barrage a celebrity who hints at discloses of the inside knowledge they have long avoided spilling the beans on. They are near the end now. Poor Marilyn Monroe threatened disclosures of what she knew way to early. And MM was also a great communicator.

Josephbleau said...

Perhaps the rub a dub dub refers to Lady MacBeth rubbing her hands to remove the spot, who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him. I see Dylan did not go to a good school, he ends his sentence in a preposition.

traditionalguy said...

For interested lawyers, I recommend Barr McClellan reading his insider work on Audible. It’s about the deed most foul, entitled Blood, Money and Power. I believe every word of that carefully researched disclosure lawyer’s analysis.

Josephbleau said...

Murder most foul said the Ghost father. Fair is foul and foul is fair.

Ken B said...

“ Jack Kennedy was assassinated by a hard core communist who had previously attempted to renounce his US citizenship and defect to the Soviet Union but returned to the US disillusioned by life in the Soviet Union but still believing in Marxism.



Marcus Bressler said...

When Dylan is good, he is great. When he is not-so-good, he is blah.


stephen cooper said...

or ----- "Jack Kennedy, despite cheating on his wife with one or more young and beautiful women who were either wives or girlfriends of cold-hearted Mafioso immigrants who were pals with the evil Castro, was actually killed by "a hard core communist".

Bonus trivia - Earl Warren, the Warren of the Warren report, was on the Supreme Court for a long time and never wrote a single decision that his fellow lawyers had any real respect for.

Murder is evil and whoever decided to kill Kennedy was an evil person. Apparently we will never know if it was just the evil guy who pulled the trigger or any number of other additional people, all of them - at this point in time, as Benghazi Hillary liked to say in her cold-hearted way ----- long dead.

Automatic_Wing said...

There's nothing more Boomerish than obsessing about the JFK assassination.

Back and to the left

stephen cooper said...

Automatic Wing ---- actually, Shakespeare himself was known to write about things that happened in his youth. Trust me, nobody who mocked him did so in a way that anyone admired.

Tell me that you are better than Shakespeare in deciding how to spend your time, or tell me you are close to Shakespeare in your decision-making in this respect.

Or don't.

Please do not think it is witty to say "Boomer" unless you have something really useful to say. You see, nobody is awed at your relative youthfulness.

dbzdak said...

Now do Desolation Row

Automatic_Wing said...

Cooper, I happen to be a Boomer myself. One of the last ones, but still.

I just find the JFK stuff to be tedious and overwrought. He was a politician who got assassinated. It happens. There's no reason to think it was some kind of historical turning point. I have no doubt he would have made just as big a mess out of Vietnam as LBJ did.

Meade said...

Loved the Williamsons singing Blood-Stained Banner,.

stephen cooper said...

Automatic ---- fair enough - almost all the JFK remembrances are, I agree, tedious and overwrought.

It is not a Boomer thing though - Kobe Bryant and Diana Spencer got similar rewritings after they passed away, it is a human thing.

Automatic_Wing said...

Haha, don't get me started on all the weepy Kobe eulogizing.

Narr said...

Boy, that was painful. I'm not the guy's greatest fan, admittedly, but geez louise. A couple of minutes, and then some FF and then I gave up.

A little Camelot is a lot. There's no better proof that vast numbers of people prefer pretty myths about dead Kennedys to anything approaching reality.

"The Shot" by the late Philip Kerr has an interesting hidden-history plot involving JFK and

Can I mention books?

narciso said...

esp lsd (including an appearance by leary) fbi cia you want deep state

Johnathan Birks said...

His next number will be about Watergate.

Bob Chapman said...

I feel sorry for the folks who say, I don't like Dylan, don't get it, don't like his singing.

Temujin said...

Bob Chapman, don't feel sorry for me because I think Dylan's voice is horrid. It is. I'm learning at a late stage in my life to like him better. But there will never be a time when I can listen to that tomcat screal and mistake it for a good singing voice.

I will still put Paul Simon over Dylan as a lyricist, vocalist, and musician. That's just what my brain hears. The thing about Simon's music is that it got more complicated as the years went on and was not easy to cover by folk singers in bar lounges- as Dylan's was. I mean- you try doing 'Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes' as a solo lounge act.

Bob Chapman said...

Temujin, I love Paul Simon and saw both him and Dylan live together about 20 years ago. Re: Dylan's "tomcat screal" (squeal?), does he sound like a tomcat squealing on, say, the albums "Blonde on Blonde," "Nashville Skyline," or "Blood on the Tracks"?

Jeff Gee said...

In Ben Fong-Torres' article about a 1974 CSNY reunion, "When the Ego Meets the Dove," he records an encounter with Bob Dylan, who was on hand to check out the competition and demo his new songs to bass player Tim Drummund:

' I ask Dylan how he’s liked the CSNY show so far and he responds with questions about Frank Sinatra’s problems in Australia and about the weather in San Francisco. A moment later, after he’s absorbed some more music, he turns and shouts: “I like to play small rooms!”

“Your next record should be a comedy record,” I yell.

“All my records are comedy records!” '

Of course they aren't JUST comedy records, but I am baffled by people who hear the smutty jokes in "Tombstone Blues" or "Desolation Row" and insist they aren't jokes. Whether they're funny is another question, but folks who can't recognize jokes are going to find some of Dylan's best stuff very hard going.

MURDER MOST FOUL THEORY # 1: The Birdman of Alcatraz makes a cameo appearance because a rhyme for "All that jazz" was required and it was left in because he thought it was funny.
MURDER MOST FOUL THEORY # 2: Ditto Terry Malloy, etc
MURDER MOST FOUL THEORY # 3: When Dylan is working in his major mode (like here), his work can subsume non-sequiturs, fart jokes, and even strings of gibberish. When he pulls it off they actually ENHANCE the song (especially when the song is 'serious'). As far as I know, not only has nobody else pulled this off successfully, nobody else has even tried.
MURDER MOST FOUL THEORY # 5: The song is about what everybody thinks it's about it. Kind of a fun song, almost. HOWEVER:
MURDER MOST FOUL THEORY # 6: The music kind of blows. Without some kind of musical hook (like the flamenco guitar in Desolation Row)to grab the ear, this is pretty brutal. And 17 minutes long also.
MURDER MOST FOUL THEORY # 7: Although the punishing length & shitty tune could themselves be jokes, in which case we are deep in Andy Kaufmann territory.

Ann Althouse said...

Rereading my post, I think Bob is saying that LBJ is behind the assassination.

Not saying Bob believes that, but it’s in the words.

Mrs. Bear said...

I have vast amounts of Bob Dylan in my collection and value him for his crankiness and for his ability to remain interesting and difficult to predict. I am, admittedly, a bit of a Dylan heretic, in that I don't think that he learned how to write songs properly until "John Wesley Harding" (or maybe "The Basement Tapes"), and also believe that "Down in the Groove" was a great record. He has written lots of great songs, but I don't think that this newly released number is one of those. It is long and musically dull, and the lyrics seem a bit simple-minded by his previous standards. If this is, by some chance, the best unreleased thing that he had sitting around, it may be just as well that he has released no album of new compositions since 2012. (On the other hand, this being Dylan, he may release the most brilliant record of his career tomorrow and have it consist entirely of polkas with salsa overtones and three harmonica solos per song. One never knows with this guy.)

Charlie said...

I consider Dylan to be one of the all time greats but I had trouble making it through this. I can't imagine listening to it again, ever. Perhaps it's a joke, to see if we take it seriously!

Brian McKim and/or Traci Skene said...

Entering the Most Sahl phase of his career.

JAORE said...

Bob Dylan releases 17-minute song about John F. Kennedy assassination"

Woooo boy. Where to begin?
17 minutes, huh? Me thinks radio play will be light.
Bob Dylan is somewhere between 75 and 4,219 years old. His voice was never what I'd call melodious.
Imagine hearing this old guy croak out nasal noises streaming while you drive about 20 miles. I'd likely aim for a bridge pier.
The Kennedy assassination? Really? Bob was always right up on the most current topics.
My wife went to a Dylan concert in Montgomery a few years ago. She and others that went proclaimed it horrible. All new stuff, none of the old favorites. So I expect this monstrosity to be about 20 percent of the playlist time for any future tour. Sure will make the decision on whether to buy a ticket easy.

FullMoon said...

Have not listened or read lyrics yet. Obvious from post an old recording Dylan decided not good enough for release when recorded. Maybe he never got around to editing and finalizing.

Peter said...

It was an innovation, straddling poetry and music. The music droned well, like time drones in the aftermath of tragic events. Dylan has written well too, about things worthy of rage, not always political. My reaction to criticism is to the triviality of it--of children still trying to impress the grownups. What this poem does is render a decision from a man who has earned emotional credibility in the way he lived his life, and from those who couldn't help but repeat(often in song)his words. There's a point where you stop ruminating over things like Kennedy's murder, and decide what it really was. It was not the reflex of a fanatic. It was calculated and organized. It came from the heart of what we think of as evil. It was murder most foul. And juxtaposed by many, many cultural efforts to soothe over what it really meant to us, including many silly songs pretending we live in a normal world led by normal people. The poem was great. Thanks so much Mr. Dylan.