Critical analysis of Bob Dylan’s song “Hurricane” Essay

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Bob Dylan’s iconic songwriting, unique and distinctive singing voice, as well as his controversial and thought-provoking lyrics has undoubtedly placed Dylan among the elites of modern, American musical history. This is not to say there are those who dislike and generally do not care for his songwriting, but almost everyone has come in contact with his expansive body of work. Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, he moved to New York City in 1961 and legally changed his name to Bob Dylan in 1962. In the onset of his career Dylan focused on politically charged themes and acoustic/folk type guitar playing. Protest songs written in the 1960’s established a reputation as a free-thinking songwriter engrossed in the trials and tribulations of the times. After a break from this style, his 1976 album Desire contained the eight and a half minute mega-track “Hurricane,” which saw a return to the societal-minded songwriting that had helped him make his name. “Hurricane,” is a narrative that describes Dylan’s own account of the events in New Jersey bar in June of 1966, which lead to the arrest and imprisonment of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, an American middle-weight boxer. Although this is one of his most popular songs, Dylan no longer incorporates it in his live sets.

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This means he is singing the song as a story being told of the actual accounts as if Dylan himself was in the bar that night. Gerard Steen, in his essay “Metaphor in Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane'” writes, “…such story format options are also part and parcel of well-conventionalized cognitive genre schemes, such as narrative songs” (Steen, 190). Another important genre aspect of “Hurricane,” is his utilization of a protest song. “…the accusation of false conviction is clear enough to make the song a serious protest song from the beginning” (Steen, 189). Protest songs were elemental in establishing Dylan’s reputation as a singer/songwriter. “Hurricane,” marked a return to this style of songwriting. Dylan also uses language to convey his message. Usage of extreme language and powerful metaphors enhance the drama and suspense that builds throughout the song. The metaphors used by Dylan are key to his message.

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In conclusion, “Hurricane,” is a song that will stand the test of time, and shines as a beacon of accomplishment in an immense and critically acclaimed body of work. Levy, J., Dylan, B., “Hurricane.” 15 May 2009. < lyrics-bob-dylan.html>. Schlansky, Evan. “The 30 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs: #21 ‘Hurricane’.” 2009. American “Metaphor in Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’: genre, style and language.” 15May 2009. < TsVKoC&pg=PA183&lpg=PA183&dq=literary+criticism+%22hurricane%22&s ource=bl&ots=Ioa4GCmjjQ&sig=MYMBoFGCnh0yV3ihRZ9gRLmnRXQ&hl=e n&ei=jqgNSopHYzCMdmhpbYG&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4 #PPA183,M1>.

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