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Bob Dylan song about JFK assassination

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1 hour ago, Ron Bulman said:

It's interesting that if you search for Bob Dylan on MSN Murder Most Foul itself does not pop up.  This junk does.



This Craig Jenkins was actually paid to write this review?

Jim Di's Dylan "Murder Most Fowl" essay and others like his should be presented to this fellow so he can see how ridiculously uninformed, off-target and even silly his piece is.

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Reply to DiEugenio comment on Dumbarton Drums

There are  multiple versions of Dumbarton's Drums both in melody and lyric and all contested.  Depending on the singer's (gender) the subject of the song is Johnny or Jeanie.   Both renditions are true;  therein is the beauty  and power of poetry; its capacity to engender many valuable meanings. 

Wikipedia reports "There
is a male version, with "Johnnie" changed to "Jeannie" and the last verse omitted, which has been recorded by The Corries. However the original version as collected and recorded by Burns is to a different tune, a brisk march which was recorded by the Glasgow Orpheus Choir. It also has different words which were the basis for the popular song. "Dumbarton's Drums" is the march of The Royal Scots, but this is a quick march, a different tune from the folk song.

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Something else I was alerted to by a friend of Couteau's:

The theme to that Woody Allen piece of frivolity What's New Pussycat? was sung by Tom Jones.

The last film that JFK saw was reportedly Tom Jones.

If this is true Bob Dylan is not only a student of the JFK case, but of Kennedy also.

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Hello All,

Dylan's "Murder Most Foul" lyrics are of course interesting and a powerful  stream of codified impressions. After all Dylan is the Shakespeare of the 20th century. or as I like to say "one more cup of coffee for the literati," to allude to his wonderful song.  Its not surprising to see Dylan's work allude to other poets. Of course there are few poets, who have written specifically on JFK; Jeanie Dean being one is pretty obscure even to members of this forum. Up until  Dylan's trope, the  idea of poetry  about JFK and th assaination has seemed  rather insignifcant or unimportant.  Now that we ar looking at poetics,  these are insider views on parallel language and themes in Dylan's and Dean's lyrics. 
Dean's  fifteen minute anthem poem "Abortion of the American Dream"  in the book The Whole World Stopped, says JFK was sacrificed on the altar of greed.  Dylan repeats the sacrifice theme in each stanza of his "Murder Most Foul"  There are several common riffs between Dylan's voicing and Dean's poems including Elm street and crossroads, that will be mentioned here. Read on it might be interesting. 

Forum member Andrews quotes Dylan about the topic crossroads and death:  
Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn
I’m going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride
The place where faith, hope, and charity died

Dylan's word, "died" echoes the premise of Dean's "Abortion  of the American Dream"

This stanza by Dylan recalls Dean's poem: "Crosshairs of History:"
the presidential motorcade 
turned the corner 
slowed for the marksmen
at the crossroads 
of idealism and corruption 
to JFK's inevitable
rendezvous with destiny 
where the whole world stopped 
and life was never the same.

The crossroads is also of course a ubiquitous metaphor for the meeting place for the proverbial deal with the devil,  with many more possible interpretations.

In the same stanza above, Dylan references "Ellum," street, which seem to echo another poem by Dean: "Tall Lean Lone Man on the Scene,"  that depicts the turn on Elm Street as a signifying moment in the assassination; the poem is spoken with a repeating, even hypnotic stop-action rhythm:
"as the President's limousine turns onto Elm
a lone man, tall and lean
tall enough to be seen on the scene
tall lean lone man steps out 
as the limousine turns onto Elm
the tall lean lone man steps out ..."

This poem continues repeating and sustains attention on the pivotal turn on Elm Street, an idea that Dylan recapitulates with his garrulous lyric.  

Check  out Dean's unique book if you like poetry, metaphor, symbol, and research.  Or let it remain another marginalized and scoffed at unknown work in this significant inquiry;  Ignore it but pay homage to the super stars.  Yours, Jeanie Dean





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Good catch, the Elm Street/Deep Ellum connection.  "Deep Ellum Blues" is a traditional African-American folk song that Dylan has performed, and has more frequently been performed by the Grateful Dead.

Deep Ellum itself was a storied African-American neighborhood in Dallas through the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, and was the place a man went for a dangerous good time.  That's why you have to "keep your money in your shoe."

[wiki:] After independence from the Mexican-American War, Texas became a part of the United States in 1845. Four years later, Dallas was founded after the Civil War. After the 1850s’ slave liberation in Texas, many slaves from Texas and nearby states built their houses and cropped their land in the future Deep Ellum, which was one of the largest African-American communities.[1] This community holds the most history in the Dallas area.

When you go down to Deep Ellum
Keep your money in your shoes
When you're down in Deep Ellum
Gives you Deep Ellum blues
Hey pretty mama
Your daddy's got them Deep Ellum blues
Tell your brothers and your sisters
Daddy's got them Deep Ellum blues
Well I went down to Deep Ellum
On a one way track
Well they took my money boys
And they never give it back
Hey pretty mama
Your daddy's got them Deep Ellum blues
Tell your brothers and your sisters
Your daddy's got them Deep Ellum blues
Edited by David Andrews
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Great references by everyone

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Speaking of Dylan's singing voice for his rendition of Murder Most Foul,  he used a very righteous and solemn baritone, and not his Topo Giggio falsetto. 

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Thanks Jim for the link to my book and Michael Parenti's comment.  He and I have had excellent conversations about the instruments of Empire.  Our research was in parallel.  In my unpublished book Poems of the Washerwoman, she scrubs away 400 years of Britaish veneer to reveal the instruments.  

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Thanks Jim for the link to my book and Michael Parenti's comment.  He and I have had excellent conversations about the instruments of Empire.  Our research was in parallel.  In my unpublished book Poems of the Washerwoman, she scrubs away 400 years of British veneer to reveal the instruments.  

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Oh yes Dylan's voice can be great. I wonder why he sings falsetto so much. 2 years ago i saw him from row 2 and most of the concert was falsetto.   grrr

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You might like this rewrite of the traditional Irish ballad Spancil Hill (1870) by Irish Immigrant Michael Considine who longs for home.  it's an irish tradition to rewrite ballads. Mine is called Sad Grassy Knoll.  I pasted Shane McGowan's fast punk version.  I am looking for someone to sing my version.  Just imagine my words to McGowan's singing.    

Sad Grassy Knoll

Last night as I was thinking of a sad day the world once knew
Me mind been bent on wondering to Dallas, Texas I flew
I went there sadly seeking truth wanting all to know
Where freedom fell on Elm Street by the sad Grassy Knoll

It be November twenty-two, nineteen sixty-three
The nation came to greet President John Kennedy
The black the white the left and right to see and hear their hero
Down on Dealey Plaza just past the Grassy Knoll

Waving hello, shaking his hand each wanted to be so near
The smiling leader inspired all to live without fear
They saw his vision for peace, a good and simple goal
Shot at noon by snipers under the Grassy Knoll

I went to see the people, to hear what they would say
Old ones cried conspiracy, not one lone shooter that day
A script, played to deceive, but the young ones just didn’t know
Cynics, called it theory, those killers on the Knoll

If John Kennedy lived would we have a peace
His “Open society” with justice for all increased
Not greed not hate nor traitors in a land that lost its soul  
No one would know the sorrow of the sad Grassy Knoll

* Kennedy spoke of  OPEN SOCIETY”  often; it was changed to ”Great Society by L.B. Johnson’s staff.
Jeanie Dean 2013
Sean McGowan Spancill Hill


  gritty version

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The multiple references to Wolfman Jack are not to be overlooked as repetition is a poetic pointer.  "Wolfman" is potentially significant in light of Robert Wheeler's comment that the secret service code-name for Poppy George Bush Sr. is "Timber Wolf."   The name pair of  "Wolf" and "Jack" might also be significant. Does Dylan know that obscure bit of history about George Bush?  Who knows?    

My poem "Tall Lean Lone Man on the Scene" in the  book,  The Whole World Stopped observes a similar mystery man in Dealey Plaza that day

Another possibility is Dylan heard the actual "Wolfman Jack playing nationwide a 50,000 watt radio elegy for JFK on his midnight show from radio XERB during some 36 hours after JFK's assassination.  David Andrews points out, Dylan spent four days after the assassination in a New York apartment like everyone listening to the news.   


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