We take a step back in time via our From The Vault section, rewinding back to 1975 when the great Bob Dylan performed his iconic song ‘Hurricane’ live for the very first time.
The track, a protest song written by Dylan alongside Jacques Levy, details the imprisonment of middleweight boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. In the song, Dylan sings about the acts of racism against Carter and the subsequent false trial and conviction.
Convicted twice of a triple murder, Carter served almost 20 years in prison until he was released after a judge subsequently granted a petition of habeas corpus on procedural grounds in 1985.
While in prison, Carter was visited by Dylan and was inspired to write his autobiography in which he maintained his innocence. After their meeting in Rahway State Prison in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, Dylan was inspired to write his song about Hurricane but initially struggled to put his emotions onto paper when the time arrived.
“Bob wasn’t sure that he could write a song [about Carter]… He was just filled with all these feelings about Hurricane,” it was detailed about Dylan’s approach to the song. “He couldn’t make the first step. I think the first step was putting the song in a total storytelling mode. I don’t remember whose idea it was to do that.
“But really, the beginning of the song is like stage directions, like what you would read in a script: ‘Pistol shots ring out in a barroom night… Here comes the story of the Hurricane.’ Boom! Titles.”
Here it is, Dylan’s first live performance of the song:
Source: Open Culture