Hurricane (8:32)

Cover of Desire

From Desire and 70 other releases

Hurricane is a protest song by Bob Dylan co-written with Jacques Levy, about the imprisonment of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. It compiles alleged acts of racism and profiling against Carter, which Dylan describes as leading to a false trial and conviction.

Dylan’s Desire opens with “Hurricane”, arguably the most popular song on the 1976 release. Named after former middleweight contender Rubin Carter, Dylan had been inspired to write it after reading Carter’s autobiography, The Sixteenth Round, which Carter had sent him “because of his prior commitment to the civil rights struggle.”

Carter and a man named John Artis had been charged with a triple murder which occurred in the Lafayette Grill, Paterson, New Jersey in 1966. Widely reported as a racially motivated crime, Carter and Artis were found guilty of committing the murders, and both were sentenced to four consecutive life sentences. In the years that followed, a substantial amount of controversy emerged over the case, ranging from allegations of faulty evidence and questionable eyewitness testimony to an unfair trial. In his autobiography, Carter maintained his innocence, and his story eventually led Dylan to visit him in Rahway State Prison in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey.

Dylan had written topical ballads before, including, “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” and “The Death of Emmett Till”, but according to Jacques Levy, he wasn’t sure that he could write a song… “He was just filled with all these feelings about Hurricane. He couldn’t make the first step.


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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

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


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