The iconic song writing talent of Bob Dylan in addition to his very distinctive and unique voice and his controversial but very thought provoking lyrics ranks Dylan as a elite in the modern American music history. Any one who has come into contact with his Dylan's expansive works would be truly unfair to disapprove that they have a lot of talent in them. Dylan's song 'Hurricane' which forms the topic of discussion in this paper is very rich in its demonstration of contemporary social elements in regard to equity, race, and literary aspects on genre, language and metaphor. This is reinforced with his individualistic and unique songwriting talent that puts him on an excellence plateau that cannot be rivaled by any other modern artist. The song Hurricane ranks as one of the artist's true masterpiece as it has a rich incorporation of the finest aspects of Dylan's literary styles and talent in song writing.
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Basically the song gives a gripping story in form of a narration about a boxer of the African American decent who finds himself in the wrong books of the law after he is wrongly accuse of a murder crime that he did not commit. The man is convicted on a false trial and imprisoned but all this is executed on racial grounds. Dylan's portrayal of thought in regard to the above controversial topic (racism) is just amazing in the way that he deeply expresses his feelings about this in a span of eight minutes. Through the tone of her voice that is some how harsh and very serious at the same time you can easily tell that this is a protest song and his tone also indicates that he some how believes in what he tries to get through. The song can be interpreted as a protest to the racial injustices that the convicted man is made to go through in the hands of a racist jury. The theme of the song is very well blended with the excellent combination of the harmonica and the acoustic guitar (Williams, 2004).
Some of the aspects of the song that gives it some kind of poetic overtone lie in the way the song is generally presented. The first and very important aspect that is quite obvious about the song is that it is presented in a verse which is one of the common characteristics that a song shares with a poem. The song is built in eleven verses each containing nine lines or stanzas. It is then characterized by a lot of rhyme which allows it to flow with rhythm. For instance in the second stanza we have the words stops, cops and cops rhyming, in the third stanza we have the words town, crown and down and so on. The rhyme enriches the song with its musicality and hence it unfolds with a smooth flow.
Another striking thing that is unique in the song is the lyrics. The allusion of the lyrics to the character on trial in regard to his African race is exceptionally incredible. For instance in the lines 'We want to pin triple murder on him' and also 'He aint no gentle man Jim' clearly communicate the racist character of the jury. More importantly the reference of the black man on trial using the word 'Jim' is original as it is drawn directly from the context of racism (remember the 'Jim' crow laws that discriminated against color). The use of the black American accent in words like 'aint, runnin, monin' which is quite distinct from the Standard English language is also quite allusive (Williams, 2004).
The presentation of the song lyrics in the form of a narrative is quite significant in portraying the theme of the song. Though the lyrics are not strictly storytelling, the way they almost flow as if the song is narration almost transforms it into a ballad. The length also reinforces this since as we know, ballads are long and presentment in narrative songs which is the same with our song. The lyrics focus on imprisonment of the boxer explaining he was imprisoned on a false trial and convicted on racial grounds. The narration form of the song presentation makes the seriousness of the topic in the lyrics deeply felt and Dylan's tone of voice and its variation from time to time plays an excellent effort in the delivery of the topic.
The structure as well as the tone of Dylan's song is also evidently repetitive and in combination with the lyrics they auger very well in holding the song together and thus kind of giving it a general rhythm (Williams, 2004). Apart from the repetition nourishing the song with rhythm it also helps in emphasizing or drawing the listener's attention to the parts that Dylan wants them to focus on. For instance the tern 'Hurricane' which is also the title of our song is severally repeated though out the entire song. The term Hurricane could be interpreted to mean horrors evoked by the prejudices that surround the character in this song and the way they sweep him into a situation that is entirely out of his control on the basis of his race
Dylan's song also employs imagery in the form of metaphorical language in order to give strength to the topic and the themes that he is trying to attack. For instance the imagery of the trial where the trial is described as a pig circus has some special importance in delivering a message in the song. The reference or direct comparison of the trial to a pig circus is a metaphor which serves to inform the listener of the lyrics in this song that this man had no chance at all in winning the case in which he was Cleary innocent and beating the racially biased jury (Williams, 2004).
The song also employs the use of figurative and characteristically emotive language which is heavily loaded with a lot of meaning. For instance Dylan describes 'Rubin sitting like a Buddha in a cell (ten foot) referring to him as an innocent man living in hell. This characteristically tells us of the racial discrimination and the abuse or misuse of power or authority that causes this black man a living hell. The comparison of Rubin to a sitting Buddha using the word like is an image inform of a metaphor that helps the listener to create a mental picture of the situation that the lyrics are trying to describe.