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"Hurricane" is a protest song by Bob Dylan co-written with Jacques Levy and released on the 1976 album Desire. The song is about the imprisonment of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. It compiles acts of racism and profiling against Carter, which Dylan describes as leading to a false trial and conviction.

Carter and a man named John Artis had been charged with a triple murder at the Lafayette Grill in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1966. The following year Carter and Artis were found guilty of the murders, which were widely reported as racially motivated. In the years that followed, a substantial amount of controversy emerged over the case, ranging from allegations of faulty evidence and questionable eyewitness testimony to an unfair trial.

In his autobiography, Carter maintained his innocence, and after reading it, Dylan visited him in Rahway State Prison in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey.


Pistols shots ring out in the bar room night

Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall

She sees the bartender in a pool of blood

Cries out, "My God, they killed them all!"

Here comes the story of the Hurricane

The man the authorities came to blame

For something that he never done

Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been

The champion of the world

Three bodies lying there does Patty see

And another man named Bello moving around mysteriously

"I didn't do it", he says and he throws up his hands

"I was only robbing the register. I hope you understand

"I saw them leaving," he says and he stops

"One of us had better call up the cops."

And so Patty calls the cops

And they arrive on the scene

With their red lights flashing

In the hot New Jersey night

Meanwhile far away in another part of town

Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are driving around

Number one contender for the middleweight crown

Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down

When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road

Just like the time before and the time before that

In Paterson that's just the way things go

If you're black you might as well not show up on the street

'Less you wanna draw the heat

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops

Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowling around

He said, "I saw two men running out. They looked like middleweights

They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates."

And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head

Cop said, "Wait a minute, boys, this one's not dead."

So they took him to the infirmary

And though this man could hardly see

They told him he could identify the guilty men

Four in the morning and they haul Rubin in

They took him to the hospital and they brought him upstairs

The wounded man looks up through his one dying eye

Says, "Why'd you bring him in here for? He ain't the guy!"

Here's the story of the Hurricane

The man the authorities came to blame

For something that he never done

Put in a prison cell but one time he could-a been the champion of the world

Four months later the ghettos are in flame

Rubin's in South America fighting for his name

While Arthur Dexter Bradley's still in the robbery game

And the cops are putting the screws to him looking for somebody to blame

"Remember that murder that you happened in a bar?

Remember you said you saw the getaway car?

You think you'd like to play ball with the law?

Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw running that night?

Don't forget that you are white"

Arthur Dexter Bradley said, "I'm really not sure."

The cop said, "A boy like you could use a break

We got you for the motel job and we're talking to your friend Bello

Now you don't wanna have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow

You'll be doing society a favor

That son of a bitch is brave and getting braver

We want to put his ass in stir

We want to pin this triple murder on him

He ain't no Gentleman Jim."

Rubin could take a man out with just one punch

But he never did like to talk about it all that much

"It's my work," he'd say, "and I do it for pay

And when it's over I'd just as soon go on my way

Up to some paradise

Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice

And ride a horse along a trail."

But then they took him to the jailhouse

Where they try to turn a man into a mouse

All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance

The trial was a pig-circus. He never had a chance

The judge made Rubin's witnesses drunkards from the slums

To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum

And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger

No one doubted that he pulled the trigger

And though they could not produce the gun

The DA said he was the one who did the deed

And the all-white jury agreed

Rubin Carter was falsely tried

The crime was murder 'one'. Guess who testified?

Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied

And the newspapers—they all went along for the ride

How can the life of such a man

Be in the palm of some fool's hand?

To see him obviously framed

Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed

To live in a land

Where justice is a game

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties

Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise

While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell

An innocent man in a living hell

Yes, that's the story of the Hurricane

But it won't be over 'til they clear his name

And give him back the time he's done

Put in a prison cell but one time he could-a been

The champion of the world


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