MUSIC

Bob Dylan’s First New Song in 8 Years Is About JFK and the Death of America

It's an exploration of JFK's assassination and its aftermath.

Bob Dylan has released his first new song in eight years.

"Murder Most Foul" is a 17-minute tapestry of Americana history that is, as most things from Bob Dylan are, folkloric and reverent. Here, the object of Dylan's horror and worship is John F. Kennedy's death, which ties together countless references to everything from A Nightmare on Elm Street to "Moonlight Sonata" to Stevie Nicks and Ray Charles.

As violins and drums mutter in the background, Dylan laments America's complex, largely mythological, often wicked history. His focal point is the 1960s and the fallout from JFK's 1963 murder. He mentions Woodstock, the Age of Aquarius, and Altamont, the doomed California music festival that was invaded by Hell's Angels and ended in bloody disaster.

Despite its focus on the mid-20th century, the song veers throughout time and across mediums. The title itself is a reference to Shakspeare's Hamlet, and he specifically shouts out Lady Macbeth in one verse, then pivots to messages of sympathy for a woman whom we can safely assume is Jackie O.

Bob Dylan Revisits His Long, Twisted Relationship with John F. Kennedy

Dylan's complex obsession with John F. Kennedy's death goes far back in time. He apparently called JFK "fake" and a "pretender" and did not vote in the 1960 election. But in 1960, he told Rolling Stone, "I don't know what people's errors are: nobody's perfect, for sure. But I thought Kennedy, both Kennedys – I just liked t hem. And I liked Martin Luther King. I thought those people who were blessed and touched, you know? The fact that they all went out with bullets doesn't change nothin'. Because the good they do gets planted. And those seeds live on longer than that."

Later, when asked about the assassination, he said, "Of course, I felt as rotten as everyone else. But if I was more sensitive about it than anyone else, I would have written a song about it, wouldn't I? The whole thing about my reactions to the assassination is overplayed."

Bob Dylan Historical Collection Everett/Shutterstock

He pivoted yet again thanks to an excess of alcohol. When accepting the Tom Paine Award from the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee in 1963, allegedly "a drunken, rambling Dylan questioned the role of the committee, insulted its members as old and balding, and claimed to see something of himself (and of every man) in assassin Lee Harvey Oswald."

"I'll stand up and to get uncompromisable about it, which I have to be to be honest, I just got to be, as I got to admit that the man who shot President Kennedy, Lee Oswald, I don't know exactly where—what he thought he was doing, but I got to admit honestly that I too—I saw some of myself in him," said Dylan. "I don't think it would have gone—I don't think it could go that far. But I got to stand up and say I saw things that he felt, in me—not to go that far and shoot."

Now he's gone back on his word and returned to JFK nearly half a century later. "Murder Most Foul" is apocalyptic and brooding, and it can't be an accident that Dylan released it in the midst of a pandemic. "What's new pussycat? What'd I say? / I said the soul of a nation been torn away / And it's beginning to go into a slow decay / And that it's 36 hours past Judgment Day," he drones, words that—like the best Dylan lyrics—seem to apply to anything and everything at once.

"Murder Most Foul" Questions America's Motives and JFK's Legacy

JFK's rise represented a profound moment of all-American optimism, but to many radicals he was just another figurehead. Dylan's confusion and rage at the government feels relevant today, especially because it was released the day after a controversial and resolutely non-populist stimulus package—which allots $500 billion to big businesses while giving a small one-time check to working people and nothing at all to hospitals—was announced.

Sometimes, in these pandemic days, it does feel like we've passed through some kind of long-feared cataclysm, and now we're in the free-fall. John F. Kennedy's assassination, like 9/11 and like COVID-19, was a moment that marked an entire cultural conscience and revealed the vulnerability of American ideals and the insubstantiality of all our great institutions, for better or worse.

But we still have music; that's one thing that's not going away. In the end, "Murder Most Foul" is just as much of an ode to music as it is an ode to the ephemera of the past.

Bob Dylan - Murder Most Foul (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

Beyoncé in "Black Is King"

Beyoncé has released Black Is King, and as usual, her work is subtly shifting the world and inspiring millions.

The musical film dropped today on Disney+. It's a visual companion to 2019's The Lion King: The Gift, an album inspired by last year's remake of The Lion King, in which Beyoncé starred as Nala. The moment it released at 12AM PT, fans lost it with excitement.


Black Is King is rooted in Black history. "History is your future," Beyoncé says prophetically toward the beginning. "One day you will meet yourself back where you started, but stronger." The film is studded with references to African history, portraying the lives of African royalty.


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FILM

Horror Movie Monsters Are Less Terrible Than Sarah Sanders

These classic horror movie monsters are pretty awful, but not nearly as awful as the resigning White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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At long last, Sarah Sanders―the most prolific, unabashed liar, and gaslighter to ever hold the position of White House Press Secretary―has resigned.

Perhaps two straight years of partisan treachery took a toll, even on a heart as black as Sarah's. But somehow that seems unlikely. Most probably, the creature known as "Huckabee" simply grew full on its diet of pure untruths and decided now was the time to slumber. So, in celebration of Sarah Sanders' resignation, we've compiled a list of some of cinema's most vile monsters.

It from It Follows

it follows monster RADiUS-TWC

The titular "It" from It Follows is a creature that can take the form of any person, changing at will as it walks towards its victim at a steady pace. When it catches up to its victim, it sexes them to death (usually in the form of a horrendously scarring person like the victim's mother). It would probably have a similar M.O. if It were Sarah Sanders, except instead of sex, Sanders would hold victims down and shout, "YOU'LL NEED TO ASK THE PRESIDENT ABOUT THAT" until their brains melted.

Freddy Kreuger from A Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddy Kreuger New Line Cinema

Freddy Kreuger is a sweater-donning, fedora-wearing, burnt-skin-slasher who appears in people's worst nightmares to crack one-liners and then murder them. If Freddy Kreuger were Sarah Sanders, she would still appear in people's nightmares to kill them, but she wouldn't crack any jokes because she's a miserable, humorless person.

Pennywise from It

pennywise New Line Cinema

Pennywise might usually look like a dancing clown but, in reality, after luring children in with lies and deception, it takes the form of a giant spider to eat them. Sarah Sanders already has the lies and deception down. But if Pennywise were Sarah Sanders, instead of offering kids cool red balloons and then eating them, she'd be doling out MAGA hats and inciting them to hate immigrants. She'd still be a giant spider though.

The Shark from Jaws

jaws Jaws Getty Images

The Shark from Jaws is just a really big shark. It's not evil or malicious; it's just fulfilling the biological imperative. How can anyone fault it for that? If the Shark were Sarah Sanders, though, it would still go around eating people all the time (which is expected), but then, for some reason, it would get really mad whenever anyone called it a Shark. And everyone would be like, "But you are a Shark, you're literally going around eating people." Shark Sarah would continue to feign offense as she continued her rampage.

Pinhead from Hellraiser

pinhead New World Pictures

Pinhead is an evil, extra-dimensional being called a Cenobite. He travels through a puzzle box along with the rest of his Cenobite pals and captures the soul of any human who happens to inadvertently solve the cursed puzzle. If Pinhead were Sarah Sanders, rather than being summoned through a puzzle box, she would be summoned simply by reading a Washington Post article. Her and her demonic followers would proceed to call it fake news until the article was closed. She would be very frequent and very annoying.