There I was this morning reading the BBC news homepage…Corona, Corona, Corona, Corona, Bob Dylan, Corona. Wait, this quarantine business isn’t making me see things I wondered? After rubbing my eyes..I read ‘Bob Dylan releases first new music in eight years‘. I even took a photo to make certain others could verify it:
“Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty over the years,” said the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner in a statement.
“This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant, and may God be with you.”
‘Murder Most Foul’ which pivots on the 60’s and Kennedy assassination seems mainly to explore the idea of art and human creativity as a constant. At least, that’s my first read on things. It’s a bit like a musical interpretation of his musicares speech and Nobel lecture. The soft narration, the far-off musical accompaniment, the almost rambling assortment of words.
I love the instrumentals and his voice here. It’s very much in line with his ‘Stay With Me’ singing approach (which I discussed here) and I imagine he recorded it around the same time. The background music definitely reminds me of his Shadows In The Night record which I think is a modern classic. It’s funny too since ideally I desired from him an original album with that style. Hopefully there’s more.
The only thing that put me off about Murder Most Foul is Dylan’s insinuation of widespread conspiracy in the JFK assassination comparable to Oliver Stone’s movie JFK (that which I wrote a long article here refuting its claims), but it’s Bob so I’ll try and not let that dour this grandiose moment.
Obviously the timing of this release is not coincidental as we enter ‘Lockdown’. Bob is recognizing the gravity of the current situation, and maybe suggesting that this pandemic is the biggest, most historic thing that he’s ever seen since Kennedy’s death. I’m not a big fan of Dylan’s long nostalgic songs especially the title track ‘Tempest’ about the Titanic, and Murder Most Foul has many cliche-weak lyrics. It’s not the Bobby Fischer of the early 70s playing, that’s for sure, but Murder Most Foul feels poignant and relevant.
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