Bob Dylan

Hurricane

Composed by Al Anderson / Carlene Carter / Bob Dylan / Jacques Levy

Song Review by

One of Dylan's most popular songs with the public at large, and more recently associated with the movie of the same name, "Hurricane" is a fantastic, whirlwind opening to Desire. The song was Dylan's first bona fide "protest song" since "George Jackson" five years earlier and was his most successful since the songs on The Times They Are A-Changin'. "Hurricane" follows the life of boxer Ruben Carter, who was falsely convicted of murder. Dylan visited Carter in jail during 1975 and was convinced by his supporters to write a song protesting the innocence of the fighter. The song he delivered is a lyrical tour de force; it opens with the sensational "Pistol shots ring out in a barroom night/Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall/She sees a bartender in a pool of blood/Cries out 'My God, they've killed them all!'," with Dylan spitting the lyrics out with genuine feeling. The rest of the song is a brilliant story, summarizing the events that led to Carter's imprisonment, and how he was essentially framed by the racist police force ("We want to pin this triple murder on him/He ain't no Gentlemen Jim"). The song is hugely persuasive, due to Dylan's storytelling prowess, and coupled with a wonderful violin part and a great engaging melody, it was one of Dylan's most successful records of the 1970s and is a major song in the artist's canon. Ani DiFranco has recorded a rather sterile version of the song, leaving out all the palpable rage of the original, although Dylan himself has not performed the song live since the Rolling Thunder Revue tour of 1976.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Desire 1976 Columbia 8:33
Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 1994 Columbia 8:34
The Essential Bob Dylan 2000 Columbia 8:34