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Hurricane

by

Bob Dylan



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This is about Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer who spent 19 years in jail for a murder Dylan felt he did not commit.
Carter was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 3 white people who were gunned down at a bar in Paterson, New Jersey on June 17, 1966. Police were looking for 2 black men and pulled over Carter and his friend John Artis. They were sentenced to life in prison.
8 years into his incarceration, Carter sent Dylan a copy of his autobiography. Dylan visited him in prison, and convinced of his innocence, wrote "Hurricane."
Lawyers at Columbia Records made Dylan change some of the lyrics to avoid lawsuits.
Dylan went of Carter's prison in 1975 as a show of support. The visit brought a lot of attention to Carter's case.
Touring with the Rolling Thunder Revue, which featured Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Roberta Flack, Dylan raised over $100,000 for Carter's defense at a Madison Square Garden concert the day after visiting his prison. A month later, they held another charity concert, Hurricane II, in the Astrodome.
Dylan's efforts brought new publicity to Carter's case, getting him a new trial in 1976, where he was again convicted, with prosecutors claiming he killed the men in retaliation for a murder of a black man earlier that night. Carter was not freed until 1984, when his conviction was finally overturned.
Carter was the subject of the 1999 movie Hurricane, staring Denzel Washington as the boxer.
The A-side of single is titled "Hurricane (part 1)." The B-side is "Hurricane (full version)."
The characters mentioned in the song are real people.
The line "He ain't no gentleman Jim" is a reference to "Gentleman" Jim Corbett, a white boxer in the 1800s known for his manners.
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan Artistfacts
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Comments (79):

Great song - A masterpiece even!
Songfact: It must've been recorded "Live" in one take in the studio because at 4:02 you can hear the backing singer screw up her line... "Remember you saw you saw the getaway car"
Funny!
- Kieron, Christchurch, New Zealand
to Susan, Albert Lea, MN, you are so caught up in pop culture that you can't accept that fact that much of pop culture is, itself, crap. I'm 14 and I appreciate Bob Dylan's music and messages. You need to pull your head out of your a** and widen your field of vision beyond the 21st century.
- Sam, Charlotte, NC
A novelist named Nelson Algren was working on a book called _The Devil's Stocking_ when he died in 1981. It was essentially a thinly-fictionalized version of the Hurricane Carter story, and apparently he was close enough to completion that it was released several years later. In the part of this book where "Ruby Calhoun" (the Carter character) is beginning to draw attention to the wrongful conviction, Algren specifically mentions Bob Dylan by name, and indirectly refers to this song: "Bob Dylan, whose poverty of spirit could be sensed in the emptiness of his voice, slapped a few words together, called it a lyric, and sang it to a packed house in Madison Square...and when he entitled this wheezing whinny "Calhoun" a million liberals bought it before he could get to the bank."

Clearly Mr. Algren was not a Dylan fan; however, he was a damn good writer (though the way he mixes reality with fiction --Bob Dylan did write the song, obviously, but obviously it was NOT called "Calhoun" because no such person exists-- is stylistically annoying as hell. Fortunately he doesn't do it often in his other books) and he was pretty fair-minded as he tried to work out the question of the REAL Hurricane's guilt by writing both positively and negatively about the fictional Hurricane.

In short: great song, factually suspect, read more Nelson Algren.
- Gladys, Chicago, IL
Whether or not Dylan was incorrect about Carter's innocence, or whether he took liberties with the story are unimportant. The point still stands that there was and still is an element of racism within the courts. Also, the songs amazing.
- David, Lincoln, United Kingdom
Nobody... NOBODY... can make you feel emotions like Bob Dylan. Nobody with human emotions can listen to "Hurricane" and not get angry. Same goes for "Masters of War". Heck, even "Positively 4th Street" makes me feel the same disdain and disgust that Dylan himself must have felt about whichever lover he happened to be writing about.
- Ken, Philadelphia, PA
Good song. I'm not sure how much of the lyrical content is true. That is accuretly reflect what actually happened. None of us were there so all we have to go on is basically hearsay.
The film, while poingant, was kinda skewed in my opinion.
- JR, Bloomington, IN
@Tom, minneapolis, United States:... I know you posted awhile ago, but when I think it, I must speak it. Are you as ignorant as you want to be? You're saying not to listen to a song, yet accepting what a bunch of racist cops say. An article in the newspaper Patterson News referred to the two apprehended as "thugs"; at that point in time (1957) whites were acting as they pleased in regard to African Americans. You also say Carter is guilty because he was convicted twice; I say he is innocent because the case was overturned. LOL..right?!?!! The first trial included one juror of color, a west indian. hardly a "peer". That would be like you being on trial and the one "white" person being of Asian decent. When the NJ SC overturned the convictions they did so in part because a tape was withheld by the prosecution that contained a known local crook (Bello) is heard speaking on receiving favorable treatment by the police/state in return for testimony placing Carter (and Artis) at the scene. During the second trial, Bello again changed his story. Now, maybe Casey Anthony can get away with lying to police and then getting away with murder (not really, I know, the prosecution just blew the big one) but if witnesses are lying AND being instructed to lie by the cops.. I believe any intelligent mind would question what exactly was going on within that context. Besides, music is art. Since when does art have to fall within any specific constraints? Dylan was an amazing lyricist; being able to educate through art is beauty. he is not only telling a story, but teaching his audience a lesson. See past the conditioning, my friend.
- bex, chicago, IL
I bought it when it came out.I've never had any doubt that he was innocent and that the authorities were out to get him.
- mark, london, England
Dylan got caught up in all the hype, and helped free a killer. Those men had children, and people who loved them. If you read the whole transcript..Dylan jumped on the wrong train.
- Rain, Cincinnati, OH
Dylan is one of my favorite writers, and I was a huge fan of boxing, but Dylan got swept up in a Hurricane of lies. I have read all the facts. Carter was as guilty as they come, and Dylan helped free him. The Truth has a color of it's own.
- Rain, Cincinnati, OH
this song is a act of genius,however dylan does not share the same view anymore
he now thinks that the boxer dude is actually guilty and regrets writing the song(sorry about the spelling)
- johua, sydney, Australia
It is a great song, obviously, but it bears no more relation to reality than Tweeter and the Monkeyman. In reality, Carter is as guilty as OJ. When I sing it, I pretend it is about Leonard Peltier, or any of the poor unknown bastard who have actually be framed.
- Greg, Columbus, OH
Take a bow, Scarlet Rivera,,, Her violin playing on this song is unmatched!!!!
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
This is one of the most gut wrenching and influential songs I have ever heard. It's hard to believe that there are american police that would frame an innocent man because of his race. It makes me feel sick. Then I remember all the other things that I've heard about racism and realize this isn't that much different. It still makes me sick, and the convincing and emotionally powerful way Dylan sings this song makes me even more ashamed to live in a land "where justice is a game". Anyone who hears this song couldn't possibly not be convinced of Rubin Carter's innocence. Poor guy could've been champion of the world until our racist police force and crummy American justice system ruined his life.
- Brad, Lexington, KY
I love this song but I try not to pay too much attention to the lyrics.When I saw the film I thought Rubin was innocent but i googled Rubin Carter,clicked on "The Truth About Rubin Hurricane
Carter"and now I think he might have done it.
- Katie, Dublin, Ireland
I think the Hurricane is innocent!

I love this song!
- cassie, union grove, WI
The scene in Dazed and Confused, where Wooderson ( McConaughey) and Randal Pink Floyd ( London) walk into the Emporium is great, and the reason I started to like this song.
Actually, the song went down a few notches when I found out the story behind it and that it is not "innocent" anymore.
- Susan, Westchestertonfieldville, VA
Doug from Raleigh, NC, the line was actually "and to the black folks..." Just thought you should know.
- Mick, New York City, NY
I can play the vioin part to this, and its awesome!!
- henry, baltimore, MD
I was at Karaoke last night in a semi red neck bar in Jefferson City Missouri. The KJ (Karaoke Jock) had this song so I chose it (all 8 minutes and 14 seconds!) I didn't know it was available on Karaoke up until last night. I know it well as I bought the 45 when it was released in 1975 and listened to it over and over and over and over.... Just singing it outloud in public made me appreciate the lyrics and word play even more - fast and difficult. However, I forgot about that one line, and all of a sudden up on the screen displays the line; "And to the white folks he was just a crazy n..., no one doubted that he pulled the trigger". WELL! What does one do? I changed it on the fly to "And to the white folks he was a - I ain't gunna say it"... some chuckles were heard.
- doug, Raleigh, NC
I think many of you are missing a crucial point. Rubin Carter's guilt or innocence does not determine the qualty of this song. It was Dylan's brilliance in encapsulating a mood, how it breaks through in his unique vocal tone that truly makes this song. That's why someone like me, a mid-twenties Australian with little knowledge of American history, can be so absorbed by his music.
- Dean, Sydney,
Tom in minneapolis must have cribbed his "facts" from the Patterson police files.Yes, Tom police do frame people and I know of couple of retired ones who have told me how it's done,so save your spin for the white power sites and leave this one alone.The song is clear indictment of crooked (racist) cops railroading for a quick conviction,it happens all the time,but apparently not in your world.
- Rey, Sebastopol, CA
I recentley saw the movie it really was spectacular, The song is finally completed when Hurricane is set free, Hes up in canada now helping others who are wrongfully convicted
- kevin, vernon, NJ
this song is amazing, i was bought up listening to Bob Dylan, i love this song and think Rubin Carter is innocent! Bob Dylan is a legend!
- Tasha, Derby, England
If Dylan took the song lyrics from Carter's autobiography then the story of the Hurricane is very bias. The story cannot be very true as is only one sided and Rubin Carter may not necessarily tell the truth when it comes to the stoy. I believe Carter is innocent in n asect, but it is pretty sad that Dylan made a song about the hurricane just based on the autobiography by Rubin Carter
- Ella, Wyoming, Australia
sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but Carter did the deed. he was convicted in the second trial. while i like the song, it is factually inaccurate and wrongly portrays a murderer as innocent.
- bill, Roanoke, VA
one of the best song ever and has a great meaning it is about a famous black boxer who walked into the bar and found a guy dead but he wanted to do was to rob the register. we was going to beat the white boxer, but they put him in jail. you have to listen to the song to under stand the story.
- megan, alanta, GA
nice point emily, too much writing if you dont like the song, if it this was supossed to be true or not, for the actual times it really doesn't matter...
it matter that even today IT ROCKS!!! lyrics and music and composition, coming from a real history making musical sense makes it even more awesome.
and...yes some people doesn't know bob dylan, and do not lives in caves, that comment made me thinks that the person who posted lives in a cave, because you may not know dylan, but you must know a little respect.

and if you want to listen another true history made song, and a beautiful song, try "Patricio Mann's Arriba en la Cordillera"...amazing
- Garoud, Arica
hahaha what's more ridiculous is how you could be bothered to sign in and write about how much you don't like this song.

thats pointless.

get on with your english report and stop whinging.
- emily, Sydney, Australia
I really do not like this song. I know some people like in and all, but I can't stand it! See, I have to do an English report on it, and I've done some research. Half of the stuff this Bob Dylan wrote is untrue. I am not gonna lie. So if you like this song, sorry. But it's 2007 and this is old! Who would listen to this crap?
- Susan, Albert Lea, MN
Dylan's not dead!
he just came out to Australia, fool.
- emily, Sydney, Australia
I'm amazed, I don't listen to much music but this!...this! is truly a piece of art! i am touched of his friendship to rubin carter. LONG LIVE BOB DYLAN! though i think he is dead...whoopsies!
- Lulu, Brisbane, Australia
i dont know how somebody can write lyrics to a story that well, he is truly a magnificent poet
- Austin, Charlotte, NC
to the guy who said "most people i know dont know who dylan is". no offence, but, do most of the people you know live in secluded dark caves on clifftops with their fingers in their ears?
- joe, dublin
My dad like Madalyn dad loves Bob Dylan (Who im named after, expect the Bob bit) and he's passed his love of Bob Dylan to me, i think like all of Bob Dylans songs there is a rare mix of musical genius and feeling which makes all of his songs, espacally Hurricane a wonder!!
- Dylan, Mildura, Australia
Tom of Minni "was only a kid when he wrote it "....????

don't think so
- pete, nowra, Australia
So Rubin Carter really did kill the three men?
- Charlie, NY, NY
my dad used to play this in the morning on the way to school i know every word...and that started my love for real music not this new crap...and it open the greatest can of worms
- Madalyn, Greensburg, PA
Bob Dylan is one of the greates singer/songwriter of all time so many people have done covers of his songs and no one gives the dude credit most people i know dont know who dylan is and i think thats sad
- Cody, Janesville , WI
Rubin Carter is a would-be quad-murderer (one of his victims survived)..he was convicted twice of the crime..the second coming after the song was written. The jury included two blacks and the prosecutor was a member of the NAACP. It makes a good song but has little to do with the truth. Dylan was a kid when he wrote it and had noble intentions but was taken in by a con man. He wont perform it any longer. Any one interested in the truth should research the court documents and eyewitness testimony..not bob bylan's song. It is, as i said, a good song. Also, the movie is full of flat out lies and it is sad that Denzel Washington participated. In case anyone cares: Rubin Carter was never ranked higher than no 3 contender for the title and was ruined by the time the crime happened. He had a documented history of violence and recounted to one reporter how he wanted to go to the Harlem riots and "get me some of them cops". On the night of his arrest..Rubin was only a few blocks away from the murder..not in some other part of town as Dylan says. He was stopped and released and then rearrested when the getaway car description became available. It matched his car exactly. The cop who was supposed to be out to get Carter was home in bed at the time of the crime and the arrest. He lived a life of unempeachable integrity according to endless accounts of people who knew him and worked with him. He never knew Rubin Carter until the crime...the movie suggests they knew each other and that Vincent De Simone had been out to get Carter for a long time. The movie producers admitted to "artistic license" in this regard and in several other instances. Bottom line: A good song that ultimately raised money to free a triple murderer. Carter is a free man today because of misguided do gooding and the popularity of Bob Dylan at the time. I love Dylans music but the line in the song about justice being a game really was true in this case...just not the way most people thought at the time. Do your own homework friends...dont let others do it for you..even if they are great singer songwriters.
- Tom, minneapolis, United States
By the way, it almost doesn't matter whether he committed the crime or not, in some sense. As long as he hasnt proven himself to be a danger to society since, which I assume he hasn't, it's really not a concern of mine. The primary function of incarceration is public safety, not punishment and vindiction.
- Paul, Cincinnati, OH
Jillian, you must join me in representing the Nasty 'Nati...that is if you ever come on here again, which you won't if you have a life...and of course this a great song...I'd be interested in also hearing the album but I havent taken the time.
- Paul, Cincinnati, OH
This song is amazing. It has a strong message in it about racism and how it still exists, even today. We should all try to learn something from Bob Dylan...Spread The Love...
- Hailee, Love&Peace, ME
I would like to make the remark that Hurricane is not from the album 'Greatest Hits Volume 3' but from the brilliant concept album Desire, also featuring the brilliant songs 'Isis' and 'One more cup of coffee'.
- Daan, Tegelen, Netherlands
what the hell are you's talkin' about - there's no dispute about it - he did it... he... did... it. everyone knows it - BOB knows it
- joe, dublin
Miguel from what i know , he was freed , without being found not gulity, if you google again you will find so called evidence to say he did do it , don't know the site , bit like the moon landing hoax, they state a fact about the trial etc , then give an explanation which makes you think again , maybe he did do it , when he came to Australia a few years back Carter was asked did he do it or not do it , he virtually said , "you decide"
- pete, nowra, Australia
this is what true tunesmiths and real storytellers are supposed to be about recognising societys perfections and imperfections and bringing them to the notice of thge massaes who sometimes look but dont see thanks Bob
- joseph, auckland, New Zealand
My favorite Dylan song and a real testiment to his songwriting skill!

Best line:
"And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin'
In the hot New Jersey night."

That just paints a real vivid image in my head.
- Chad, Eagan, MN
this and stairway are the best songs ever in my mind. i must say though dylans concert sucked im sorry u lost it. i admire his song writing abilities but he can no longer perform well at all. very disappointing. he never got off the keyboard. well i admire him for trying
- Austin, Charlotte, NC
No accusations, but has anybody thought how weird it would be if Carter really did it.
- Jon, Oakridge, OR
i know someone else already posted it but for proof that this, while bein' a really great song, it's almost completely untrue (unbeknownst to bob at the time - and yeah i heard that about him refusing to play it anymore too)
anyway... the proof... http://www.graphicwitness.com/carter/song.html

by the way... the film? "hate put me in here... love's gonna bust me out"
i thought it was a decent film up til that point but then "pah!!... be gone with you!"
- joe, dublin, Ireland
This song is also one of the few instances where a white musician could use the epithet "n***er" and get away without much controversy.
- Joshua, Twin Cities, MN
...and Jillian from ohio...your right about the Dazed and Confused thing...such a good movie
- jared, westmont, NJ
If you listen closely during the lines that are supposed to be quotes by the characters, it sounds like back-up vocals. I inhanced the sound on my computer and the voices change each time. Te conclusion that I came too was that they were supposed to be the voices of the characters. If this is the case then all I have to say is "simply awesome"
- jared, westmont, NJ
Longest song to be on my 'Top 25 most played' list on Itunes.
- Linus, Hamilton, ON, Canada
An alternate version of this song appears in the film RENALDO AND CLARA, Dylan's overlong pseudo documentary of the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975. The song is played during scenes relating to Reuben Carter's press conference and the reaction from the various people on the street.
- Barry, New York, NY
What a powerful song! I saw a show about the ordeal of Ruben Carter, and I don'tt think he did it either. After all, this particular murder happened when the Civil Rights Movement was going on.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
for this man to put this mans ordeal into a song and get hm free is just sheer brilliance. I soluteyou bob dylan and rubin carter who i also believe was innocent
- jordan, ballarat, NV
How anyone can write a song as good as this is beyond belief.Dylan turned this story into an amazing song.Sublime.
- Jackie, Coatbridge, Scotland
dylan is perhaps one of the greatest songwriters in human history
- Steve, Centerville, OH
A song worth loads of admiration. Controversies apart, it exhibits poetic prowess Dylan had. Kudos to this legend. Blowin' in the wind is also a must listen.
- Davinder, Delhi, India
Good Lordy this song is amazing! it blows my mind how great a poet he was.
- Anastasia, anaheim, CA
I'd just like to say that people should watch what they read most of the things that are up these days about the trial and about Carter himself have holes in them for example the articles found in http://graphicwitness.com/carter/
have holes in them and twist certain facts to their favour
- Edan, Melbourne, Australia
you hear this song in Dazed and Confused when Matthew McConaughey's character walks into The Emporium.
- Jillian, Cincinnati, OH
I've heard that Dylan now refuses to play this song because he heard that Ruben Carter was actually culpable? Anybody know if there's any truth in this story? I've tried searching the net and can't find much on it so I'm assuming it's a bit of an urban myth...
Miguel, Dublin, Ireland
- Miguel, Dublin, Ireland
I was wondering what you guys thought about the song, i mean do you think he was innocent or do you think he really did commint the crime?
- colleen, canada, Canada
When this song came out in '75, old time Dylan fans were excited that it was his first proper protest song in over a decade.
- craig, madison, WI
is there not a song by something corporate called hurricane..."come on sweet catastrophe", i freaking love that song...HEY www.songfacts.com, why dont you have stuff on other bands, lesser known bands, you should inform people of these ones too, they really rock, try www.somethingcorporate.com
- katty, saskatoon, Canada
the thing about hurricane, its surprisingly accurate. some of trhe names besides carter had been changed but most of the events make sense vs. reality
- clay, bostos, MA
it was also used in a bmx video "wide awake nightmare" in brian wizmerski's part that part turned me on to bob dylan
- Kyle, Wilmington, DE
Brilliant song. I don't pretend to know the truth about the real events but if you want to hear the other side of the story (which is the only way to get a balanced view) take a look at this site: http://graphicwitness.com/carter/
- Dominic, UK, England
Dylan is a poet, he took actual events and such and told a story that rythemed too. Definetly a good song
- Scott, Philadelphia, PA
This might be the best lyrical song ever.
- Don, Philadelphia, PA
I highly recommend the movie with denzel washington! it is great!
- Mike, Oliver, Canada
amen to all of these other comments. Great lyrics, and great music too.
- SOl, Dallas, TX
i love this song. it tells so much in a little time
- Mike, Oliver, Canada
a excerpt of the song is also used in the movie "dazed and confused"... just a quick fact
- Terri Lynn, Heart's Desire, Canada
one of the all time greatest songs ever, now thats what I call a story.
- pete, nowra, Australia
This song is so good, as is the songwriting of Bob Dylan.
- Jason Lee, New York, NY
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