I found “Murder Most Foul” intriguing. Its retelling of the assassination of JFK was provocative as it attributed it to Deep State forces. But the lack of melody was disappointing. It was also difficult to understand the connections between Dylan’s narrative and the over-long list of songs he centralized. It seemed mostly random and unconnected. Along with references to his story, my own “translation” tries to subtly connect as many of those song titles as I could to Dylan’s well-told tale. I’ve referenced “Only the Good Die Young,” “I’d Rather Go Blind,” “Scratch My Back,” “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “Twilight Time,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “In God We Trust,” “Cry Me A River,” “That Old Devil Moon,” “One Night of Sin,” “Misty,” “Anything Goes,” “Blue Sky,” “Deep in a Dream,” and “The Blood-Stained Banner.”
Near the Ides of last March The Seer from Duluth Sang a swan’s song To all About murder and truth. He sang to a world Sick and under arrest In a globe-wide pandemic And put to the test By an earth in decay In the Antichrist’s age When faith, hope and love Disappeared from the page (Of our nation’s own book). It all began (He said) On a Dallas dark day In the blinding-bright sun Which brought hell to pay To an Aquarian Age Shaped by spinning magicians With a shot that all heard But nobody listened. They exploded the head, They blew the brains out Of the King JFK (But we’re all left in doubt) He was a sacrificed lamb Put down like a dog Mocked and shocked By the killers While spreading a fog Yes, everyone watched But few can recall What our own eyes revealed We saw nothing at all. It was carefully planned During nights filled with sin And carefully timed With LBJ in Standing prepared To step forward and take The place of late Claudius At 2:38. The message was sharp: We forbid New Frontier Segregation will stay With everyone here With ghettoes in ruins Illumined at night By red lights and crime It’s all such a fright Ruled by cops on the beat To enforce Elm Street’s nightmare For the sake of elite For the sake of what’s right for Cash on the barrelhead (After all, business is business). We’ve seen this crime’s movie Again and again But frankly, Miss Scarlet, We don’t give a damn We’re distracted by Woodstocks Beatles, acid and flags We’re forbidden to ask As if mouths filled with gags Prevented owl’s questions Beyond what we’re told About Oswald and Ruby We’re left out in the cold With mouths firmly shut With those questions so old All left unanswered (And subject to scold). It’s all unfair to Jackie And Marilyn too It’s unfair to us To me and to you We’re blind by our choice To back-scratchers all Who refuse to take questions Whenever we call. They kill all the young The brave and the good They make us all fearful That we’ll be misunderstood At this twilight time As rivers we cry Watching our heroes All bite dust and die As we sing about crosses And the God who’s a lie. So, we’re all feeling misty Lonely but brave Under the old devil’s moon As in Plato’s dank Cave We wander in mystery Where anything goes We’re deep in a dream When we’ll wake No one knows. We’re surrounded by darkness Nightfall and death Under a banner That’s blood-stained With nothing that's left But music and jazz And that prophet In howl Who shakes us to wake us About murderS most foul.
4 thoughts on ““Murder Most Foul”: My Translation of Bob Dylan’s New Song”
Dylan’s song? The underlying theme is the hopelessness and lostness of all sensitive individuals today. Where have all our trusted values gone….?
I agree — including all those writers and singers of the songs he references.
Poets don’t have to offer answers. Their cries from the heart are their gifts to us. What we do with those deep feelings is or business, or not.
(should be “our business…”)