Dylan’s haunting narrative of the boomer era

Never thought I would be joining my fellow countrymen and women in sheltering at home to try to avoid a pandemic that’s sweeping the U.S. and the world. But here we are… at home or waving at neighbors across the street. And, wearing protective gloves and face masks on the rare times we venture out to the grocery.

During this comfortable exile at home, I’ve been connected over the internet and social media as never before. And, in the plethora of messages, someone was exclaiming about Bob Dylan’s new 17-minute song.

I thought it was some kind of joke, except that Dylan has always been known for writing L…O…N…G songs. Remember “Like a Rolling Stone” from 1965? More than six minutes. There were others.

Dylan’s latest is called “Murder Most Foul” and it’s far, far more than important as a narrative on the boomer generation than to simply be called “a 17-minute song.” It’s a song we need right now, like a tap on our shoulders… a reminder.

“Murder Most Foul” is haunting and powerful… and it’s about our nation. It’s about who we are as Americans, and the darkness that we allow to infect our nation. The lyrics should be familiar to many if not most baby boomers… because “Murder Most Foul” is partly about our generation and our country.

As of today, Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul” is #1 on Billboard’s Music Chart.

If you ever had doubts about whether Dylan deserved the Nobel Prize for Literature, just listen.

Lyrics by Bob Dylan

‘Twas a dark day in Dallas – November ‘63

The day that will live on in infamy

President Kennedy was riding high

A good day to be living and a good day to die

Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb

Say wait a minute boys, do you know who I am?

Of course we do, we know who you are

Then they blew off his head when he was still in the car

Shot down like a dog in broad daylight

‘Twas a matter of timing and the timing was right

You got unpaid debts and we’ve come to collect

We’re gon’ kill you with hatred and without any respect

We’ll mock you and shock you, we’ll grin in your face

We’ve already got someone here to take your place

The day that 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 murder most foul

Hush li’l children, you’ll soon understand

The Beatles are coming they’re gonna hold your hand

Slide down the bannister, 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 over 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 and 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

Black face singer – white face clown

Better not show your faces after the sun goes down

I’m in the red-light district like a cop on the beat

Living in a nightmare on Elm Street

When you’re down on deep Ellum put your money in your shoe

Don’t ask what your country can do for you

Cash on the barrel head, money to burn

Dealey Plaza, make a left hand turn

I’m going to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride

That’s the place where Faith, Hope and Charity died

Shoot ‘em while he runs, boy, shoot ‘em while you can

See if you can shoot the Invisible Man

Goodbye, Charlie, goodbye Uncle Sam

Frankly, Miss Scarlet, 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, says the wise old owl

Business is business and it’s murder most foul

Tommy can you hear me, I’m the Acid Queen

I’m ridin’ in a long black Lincoln limousine

Ridin’ in the back seat, next to my wife

Heading straight on into the afterlife

I’m leaning to the left, got my head in her lap

Oh Lord, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap

We ask no quarter, no quarter do we give

We’re right down the street from the street where you live

They mutilated his body and took out his brain

What more could they do, they piled on the pain

But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at

For the last fifty years they’ve been searching for that

Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me

Hate to tell you, Mister, but only dead men are free

Send me some loving – tell me no lie

Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by

Wake Up, Little Suzie, 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’s 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

I never shot anyone from in front or behind

Got blood in my eyes, got blood in my ear

I’m never gonna make it to the New Frontier

Zapruder’s film, I’ve seen that before

Seen it thirty three 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, 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 anti-Christ has just only begun.”

Air Force One coming in through the gate

Johnson sworn in at two thirty-eight

Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel

It is what it is and it’s murder most foul

What’s New Pussycat – wha’d I say

I said the soul of a nation been torn away

It’s beginning to go down into a slow decay

And that it’s thirty-six hours past judgment day

Wolfman Jack, he’s 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 that Only The Good Die Young

Take me to the place where Tom Dooley was hung

Play St. James Infirmary in the court of King James

If you want to remember, 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 – Goin’ Down Slow

Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe

And please, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Play it for the First Lady, she ain’t feeling that good

Play Don Henley – play Glenn Frey

Take it to the Limit and let it go by

And play it for Carl Wilson, too

Lookin’ far, far away down Gower 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 G-d We Trust

Ride the Pink Horse down that 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’s got no master

Play Oscar Peterson and play Stan Getz

Play Blue Sky, play Dickie Betts

Play Art Pepper, play 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 all the numbers, play all the odds

Play Cry Me A River for the Lord of the Gods

Play number nine, play number six

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 twelve million souls that are listening in

Play the Merchant of Venice, play the merchants of death

Play Stella by Starlight for Lady Macbeth

Don’t worry Mr. President, help’s on the way

Your brothers are comin’, there’ll be hell to pay

Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell?

Tell ‘em we’re waitin’- keep coming – we’ll get ‘em as well

Love Field is where his plane touched down

But it never did get back up off of 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 in his grave

Play Jelly Roll Morton, play Lucille

Play Deep in a Dream and play Drivin’ Wheel

Play Moonlight Sonata in F sharp

And Key to the Highway by the king of the harp

Play Marchin’ Through Georgia and Dumbarton’s drum

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

Copyright © 2020 by Special Rider Music

Thousands pay their respects at Arlington National Cemetery to the passing of President John F. Kennedy. Photo by David Henderson. 1963