Dylan and Freedom

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwFbnz1rUdA

There is so much one could say about the White House’s announcement yesterday that Bob Dylan is among this year’s distinguished recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, this country’s highest civilian honor.  Of course, I immediately thought of Dylan’s music.

There are many Dylan songs that speak to the theme of freedom.  Since this blog is about matters of law and issues that demonstrate how the law matters, and because this song speaks to many issues still, sadly still so relevant today, more than 35 years later, and because this is also an epic, terrific song, here is Dylan’s story about “the Hurricane”:

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 namedBello, 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 hotNew Jerseynight.

 

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.

InPatersonthat’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 inSouth 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 friendBello

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 getting’ 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?

Belloand 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.

 

  • Philip

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Philip

    Thanks for sharing, Aaron!