Bob Dylan was born May 24th, 1941. He is 75 years old and started making music in the 1960's and he was one of the most influential song writers of the 20th century. He helped people feel relieved about the war and violence going on and also the civil rights. Bob Dylan wrote this song Hurricane as tribute to Rubin Carter. Carter was a boxer that was blamed and put in jail for a triple murder that he never committed.
Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night.
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall.
She sees a 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.
In this first part of the song, Bob Dylan is talking about a boxer that was put in prison for a murder that he never committed. The Hurricane described, is the big conflict with the conviction for the boxer. The champion of the world he could of been tells how prison ruined his chances of becoming a champ.
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
In this next section, Bob Dylan is saying how there was 3 bodies that were found from the murder. Patty and Bello were the ones that described the getaway car that was the car of Carter, the boxer. That's how he got put into the case when he didn't do anything. Carter pleaded that he wasn't the one that did it when he was picked up by police. It describes how Patty and Bello were talking about calling in the car to the cops.
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 want to draw the heat
In this section, Dylan is describing how Carter, a middleweight crown contender, is just driving around with his friends minding their own business then a cop pulls up on them and pulls them over. They get pulled over and get taken into custody and when he said "if you're back you might as well not show up on the street" he was meaning how you're going to get arrested to in trouble if you are in the streets. Unless you want to bring out a gun and start fighting that way.
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 me
In this one, he is talking about how Bello and his friend had a rap for cops, so they wanted to always spill information when they had it. They were snitches and Patty just went along with whatever they were saying. Then a cop realizes one of the victims wasn't dead and he was taken to the infirmary where he was practically blind.
Four in the mornin' and they haul Rubin in
They took him to the hospital and they brought 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!
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
This section talks about how the victim comes to see, with his one eye, that Carter was not the guy that did the murderous crime. Talking about how the cops came to blame an innocent man that did nothing wrong. He was put in a prison cell when he could of became 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
In this section it says how he is going 4 months later in time when Carter is fighting in South America to get his popularity back. While Arthur, is still out robbing places. The cops are still searching for the real murderer and everyone still remembers the murder at the bar.
Arthur Dexter Bradley said I'm really not sure
The 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
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
Bello is friends with Arthur and the cops were trying to give him a break. Bob Dylan doesn't like how he was getting away with what he had done. The cops had got him into the motel that Bello had helped him get into. They wanted to pin the triple murder on Carter.
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
Rubin Carter had a good punch when he boxed but he never liked to talk about it because he did it all for the money. Whenever he would retire he would go to somewhere that is like paradise to him. But he never made it because he got put in Jail for getting blamed for the murder.
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
Dylan is talking about how the trial was pretty much a joke because Carter never had a chance in the case. The judge made the witness for Carter a homeless alcoholic person that was nearby during the murder. To white people Carter was a bum but to black people he was a crazy black person. No one doubted that he was the one that pulled the trigger even though the gun was never recovered. The all white jury agreed with him being the murderer.
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
Carter didn't deserve that unfair trial. Bello and Bradley both testified and both lied to the judge and jury. The newspapers went along with what was going on too and just followed the majority. Dylan felt ashamed to have been living in the land where someone can get wrongly tried like Carter was.
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
The real murders now are sitting back and doing what they want while Carter sits in jail in a 10 foot tall cell. Carter was an innocent man living in total hell for nothing he ever did. The whole story is a hurricane and it won't be done until his name is cleared and they give him back the time he served.
Carter spent 20 years in prison for a crime he never committed. When Bob Dylan heard about the story, he went and met with Rubin Carter and was able to hear the whole story. Which inspired him to write this song, Hurricane, to tell the whole story.