With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

“Murder Most Foul” – Bob Dylan March 30, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:02 pm
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Our writer Tom Ray has been released from the Mayhem Mansions cellar and wants to share his thoughts on Bob Dylan’s new opus. Read it to find out what Tom thought of it and let us have your thoughts on “Murder Most Foul”.  Dylan’s lyrics for the song have also been copied below, I hope that you don’t mind Mr Zimmerman.

It seems that Bob Dylan has had things on his mind for a long time. Things keeping him awake for the last 57 years. Murder Most Foul, his first original release in 8 years, is one of the most significant pieces of art of the 21st century. Its title comes from Shakespeare. Its lyrics are a complex, labyrinthine monologue that takes us through some of the most significant events of the 20th century, starting with the death of US President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Its trip through myriad cultural references is fragmented and broken. The Beatles releasing I Want To Hold Your Hand, released just six days after Kennedy’s assassination in the UK and a couple of months later in the US, on Boxing Day. Jim Crow America. Woodstock. DJ Wolfman Jack. Robert Johnson’s crossroad rendezvous with the Devil. Golden age Hollywood. All of the deepest scars in the American psyche are written large here in glorious technicolour. The assassination itself. Zapruder’s grainy home-movie of the grim event, ‘the most important 26 seconds of film in history’. Strip club owner Jack Ruby, who murdered the assassination suspect Lee Harvey Oswald in police custody. Vietnam. Marilyn Monroe. Even the civil war. It references multitudes of musicians, some of Dylan’s contemporaries, some more recent and some of Dylan’s heroes. We’re talking the Aforementioned Robert Johnson. The Who. Etta James. Billy Joel. Elvis. Sun RA. Plenty of material for the Dylanologists to get their teeth stuck into.

Murder Most Foul is a quasi-religious piece of art. Dylan is a priest giving communion. It’s an act of remembrance. A mournful dirge. We are his loyal flock, listening in for instruction and guidance. Listening for comfort and reassurance. Instead, we are met with 17 minutes of bleak beauty. It is a minimal composition of piano, violin, and some light percussion. It has very little sense of melody and a chanted, droning quality. Trapper Schoep, a millennial musician who has recently collaborated with Dylan, describes it as ‘” The Irishman” of songs’ and ‘a commentary on a major cultural event that’s happening now by referencing a major cultural event of the past’.

It’s fitting then, that Dylan released this piece at midnight on March 27th, 2020, as we transition from the post-war age of boom and bust, terror and drugs, rock and roll, peace and prosperity, hate and war, starvation and austerity and into the unknown future of the post-pandemic age laid out before us. He wrote on Twitter that it was ‘recorded a while back’ and something that fans ‘might find interesting’. ‘Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you’. Despite my atheism, I echo his sentiments.

Written by Tom Ray

Murder Most Foul is available to stream or buy from all the usual suspects. Spotify, YouTube etc.

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Bob Dylan – ‘Murder Most Foul’ lyrics:

Twas a dark day in Dallas, November ’63
A day that will live on in infamy
President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high
Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die
Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb
He said, “Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?”
“Of course we do. We know who you are.”
Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
Shot down like a dog in broad daylight
Was a matter of timing and the timing was right
You got unpaid debts; we’ve come to collect
We’re gonna kill you with hatred; without any respect
We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face
We’ve already got someone here to take your place

The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching; no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done
Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl
Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul

Hush, little children. You’ll understand
The Beatles are comin’; they’re gonna hold your hand
Slide down the banister, go get your coat
Ferry ‘cross the Mersey and go for the throat
There’s three bums comin’ all dressed in rags
Pick up the pieces and lower the flags
I’m going to Woodstock; it’s the Aquarian Age
Then I’ll go to Altamont and sit near the stage
Put your head out the window; let the good times roll
There’s a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll

Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President
Put your foot in the tank and step on the gas
Try to make it to the triple underpass
Blackface singer, whiteface clown
Better not show your faces after the sun goes down
Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat
Living in a nightmare on Elm Street

When you’re down in Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe
Don’t ask what your country can do for you
Cash on the ballot, money to burn
Dealey Plaza, make left-hand turn
I’m going down to the crossroads; gonna flag a ride
The place where faith, hope, and charity died
Shoot him while he runs, boy. Shoot him while you can
See if you can shoot the invisible man
Goodbye, Charlie. Goodbye, Uncle Sam
Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don’t give a damn

What is the truth, and where did it go?
Ask Oswald and Ruby; they oughta know
“Shut your mouth,” said the wise old owl
Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul

Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen
I’m riding in a long, black limousine
Riding in the backseat next to my wife
Heading straight on in to the afterlife
I’m leaning to the left; got my head in her lap
Hold on, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap
Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give
We’re right down the street from the street where you live
They mutilated his body, and they took out his brain
What more could they do? They piled on the pain
But his soul’s not there where it was supposed to be at
For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that

Freedom, oh freedom. Freedom cover me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
Send me some lovin’; tell me no lies
Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by
Wake up, little Susie; let’s go for a drive
Cross the Trinity River; let’s keep hope alive
Turn the radio on; don’t touch the dials
Parkland hospital, only six more miles

You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy. You filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline
Never shot anyone from in front or behind
I’ve blood in my eye, got blood in my ear
I’m never gonna make it to the new frontier
Zapruder’s film I seen night before
Seen it 33 times, maybe more
It’s vile and deceitful. It’s cruel and it’s mean
Ugliest thing that you ever have seen
They killed him once and they killed him twice
Killed him like a human sacrifice

The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son
The age of the Antichrist has only begun.”
Air Force One coming in through the gate
Johnson sworn in at 2:38
Let me know when you decide to thrown in the towel
It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul

What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it’s 36 hours past Judgment Day

Wolfman Jack, speaking in tongues
He’s going on and on at the top of his lungs
Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack
Play it for me in my long Cadillac
Play me that ‘Only the Good Die Young’
Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung
Play St. James Infirmary and the Court of King James
If you want to remember, you better write down the names
Play Etta James, too. Play ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’
Play it for the man with the telepathic mind
Play John Lee Hooker. Play ‘Scratch My Back’.
Play it for that strip club owner named Jack
Guitar Slim going down slow
Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe

Play ‘Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’
Play it for the First Lady, she ain’t feeling any good
Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey
Take it to the limit and let it go by
Play it for Karl Wirsum, too
Looking far, far away at Down Gallow Avenue
Play tragedy, play “Twilight Time”
Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime
Play another one and “Another One Bites the Dust”
Play “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In God We Trust”
Ride the pink horse down the long, lonesome road
Stand there and wait for his head to explode
Play “Mystery Train” for Mr. Mystery
The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree
Play it for the Reverend; play it for the Pastor
Play it for the dog that got no master
Play Oscar Peterson. Play Stan Getz
Play “Blue Sky”; play Dickey Betts
Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk
Charlie Parker and all that junk
All that junk and “All That Jazz”
Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz
Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd
Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd
Play the numbers, play the odds
Play “Cry Me A River” for the Lord of the gods
Play number 9, play number 6
Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks
Play Nat King Cole, play “Nature Boy”
Play “Down In The Boondocks” for Terry Malloy
Play “It Happened One Night” and “One Night of Sin”
There’s 12 Million souls that are listening in
Play “Merchant of Venice”, play “Merchants of Death”
Play “Stella by Starlight” for Lady Macbeth

Don’t worry, Mr. President. Help’s on the way
Your brothers are coming; there’ll be hell to pay
Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell?
Tell them, “We’re waiting. Keep coming.” We’ll get them as well

Love Field is where his plane touched down
But it never did get back up off the ground
Was a hard act to follow, second to none
They killed him on the altar of the rising sun
Play “Misty” for me and “That Old Devil Moon”
Play “Anything Goes” and “Memphis in June”
Play “Lonely At the Top” and “Lonely Are the Brave”
Play it for Houdini spinning around his grave
Play Jelly Roll Morton, play “Lucille”
Play “Deep In a Dream”, and play “Driving Wheel”
Play “Moonlight Sonata” in F-sharp
And “A Key to the Highway” for the king on the harp
Play “Marching Through Georgia” and “Dumbarton’s Drums”
Play darkness and death will come when it comes
Play “Love Me Or Leave Me” by the great Bud Powell
Play “The Blood-stained Banner”, play “Murder Most Foul”

 

2 Responses to ““Murder Most Foul” – Bob Dylan”

  1. […] Click here to read our earlier review of “Murder Most Foul” written by Tom Ray. […]

    Like

  2. […] Released at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in the US & UK, Murder Most Foul is both a poetic retelling of the assassination of JFK and a mournful goodbye to post-war age we appear to be finally exiting. I wrote a review of this when it was released on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem. […]

    Like


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