On midnight Friday, American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan released his first song since his last album of original material eight years ago.
“Murder Most Foul” is a nearly 17-minute song about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The song is composed as a free association piece not easily broken into separate stanzas.
The lyrics of the first verse focus most directly on the events of the infamous assassination on November 22, 1963. The full song lyrics can be found on Genius.
“It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63
A day that will live on in infamy
President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high
Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die
Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb
He said, “Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?”
“Of course we do, we know who you are!”
Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
Shot down like a dog in broad daylight
Was a matter of timing and the timing was right
You got unpaid debts, we’ve come to collect
We’re gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect
We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face
We’ve already got someone here to take your place
The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done
Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl
Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul”
The focus of the song is dense with references to the shocking nature of the assassination as well as some of the conspiracy culture surrounding the historic event. For instance, the line, “we’ve already got someone here to take your place,” appears to reference Vice President Lyndon B Johnson’s quick swearing-in to take the office of president shortly after Kennedy’s death.
The 17-minute song goes on for another four more loosely defined verses referencing the pop-culture of the era, such as the rise of The Beatles shortly after the 1963 assassination and their popularity acting as a means of soothing a nation distraught by Kennedy’s death.
Dylan has reportedly been fascinated by the Kennedy assassination ever since it happened. In the months that followed the killing, Dylan and others visited the site of the act, Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas and speculated about the accuracy of the official theory, that the shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Prior to releasing the new song, Dylan offered a brief statement:
“Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty over the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that might find interesting.”
Fans of Dylan have already speculated that the style of the song and Dylan’s vocal delivery likely indicate the song is one of his more recent works.