Throwback of the week (2nd August 2020)

Bob Dylan – Hurricane

This weeks throwback of the week is Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane,’ a protest song written by Bob himself and Jacques Levy about the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a black boxer who was incarcerated for nearly twenty years for a triple homicide in New Jersey.

Dylan believed Carter was innocent due to many issues with the case including racial injustice within the police system at the time, so ‘Hurricane’ was written in order to lean towards Carters innocence. The story is told by Dylan – over eleven verses and is accompanied mainly by a twelve-string guitar and a violin; the strings get intense towards the end of each verse which heightens the anticipation over what will happen next.

Dylan originally read Carters autobiography that he wrote from jail and later met with him to discuss his side of the story for the song before going on to write ‘Hurricane’ with the help of Levy. The injustices within the story is a topic that Dylan feels strongly about. This wasn’t Dylan’s first protest song, another being ‘The Times they are A-Changing’ written in 1964, as he often wrote about his views concerning the civil rights moment in America in the 1960’s which he was passionate about, hence his involvement in proving Carters innocence.

Dylan also organised benefit concerts to raise money for carter and enlisted the help of other musicians at the time to raise awareness of the cause. Despite the song being released on Dylan’s 1976 album ‘Desire’ its themes of racial injustice in American policing and in America overall are just as relevant today with the recent protests over the killing of George Floyd.

In the song Dylan sings “if you are black, you might as well not show up on the streets” and also asks “how long must this go on?” It just makes you realise that if this song was released today instead of 1976 it would still be relevant. As if you think about it, how much has really changed and how long is this really going to go on for?

Words by: Fern Blundell

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