Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bob Dylan - Hurricane

(Columbia 1975)

Dylan’s back into storytelling mode, laying out over two sides of a 7” single the story (or a Dylanized version of it, at least) of Rubin Carter’s arrest and conviction. The lyrics are as direct and cutting as anything else he’d done in some time, but his sympathy for a coulda-been “champion of the world” ends up less affecting than earlier songs about nameless hobos and working stiffs. Beyond the celeb aspect, part of that is due to the damn violin-and-conga backing that places the song firmly in mid-’70s sleeksville – it’s easy to imagine a Mellencamp recording such a song ten years later. Old Bob’s in good voice, though, and the brisk tempo keeps things moving along nicely. So I dunno… call it socially-conscious wallpaper. Sure.


Donald Brown said...

Scarlett Rivera's violin, to my mind, makes most of the songs on "Desire" distinctive in the Dylan repertoire.

but the Watergate jab was nice: "now all the criminals in their suits and their ties are free to drink martinis and watch the sunrise"; and the coarse "street lingo" was not only unusual for a Dylan track, but for any radio track, to say nothing of that outrageous enjambment: "we want to put his ass in stir / we want to pin this triple mur /der on him."

and on top of all that: the "N word."

It's never been my favorite track of the era nor am I all that keen on his newspaper-story-based songs, but this one definitely has balls.

but for real schmaltz there's "Joey."

Josh Drimmer said...

"Joey" is socially irresponsible. Motherfucker was amoral, not a hero.

"Hurricane" is an untrue story insomuch as the movie taught me there aren't a bunch of corrupt cops that framed and kept Rubin Carter in jail. It was all Dan Hedaya. That composite character bastard.

Donald Brown said...

Yeah, Dan Hedaya has much to answer for.