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On July 17, 1966, in Paterson, NJ, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was contending for the heavyweight boxing title, when, one night, he was pulled over and suspected of a murder. There was no evidence or witnesses to prove the Hurricane guilty, but the cops needed somebody to blame; so they fixed the trial, and Rubin received the short end of the stick. He was put away for life for a crime he didn’t commit. This is a true story. The song was written by Bob Dylan to bring Rubin’s situation to the public. Rubin Carter was a black man; so many people, including judges and cops, just turned their head. The Hurricane’s verdict was changed after nineteen years in prison. He is now trying to live the life that was taken from him. Dylan’s song, “The Hurricane” explains how Rubin Carter was proven innocent, but found guilty.
Shots were fired, and a triple murder was committed. Two people were at the scene, Patty Valentine and a man, but there were no witnesses. The man next to the bodies said, “I was only robbin’ the register, I hope you understand.” Somehow this burglar is not suspected of the murder.
The number one contender for the heavyweight title is not even near the shootings. It says “Meanwhile, far away in another part of town, Rubin and a couple of friends are drivn’ around.” But he was pulled over anyway “just like the before and the time before that. In Paterson, that’s just the way things go. If you’re black you might as well not show up on the street ‘less you wanna draw the heat.” People were very racist back then, and therefore a black man was always suspected before a white man.
The police are at the scene gathering information. The burglar and his partner said they saw two middleweights running, and Patty Valentine agreed with them. A cop sees that the bartenders not dead, “and though this man could hardly see they told him he could identify the guilty man. The cops have to find a person to blame, and even though it doesn’t say it in the song, Rubin has had trouble with the Chief of Police when he was younger.
Rubin is hauled to the hospital, so that the bartender could identify him. “The wounded man looks up through his one dyin’ eye, says, wha’d you bring him in here for?
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"The Hurricane." 123HelpMe.com. 17 Jul 2019
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Four months later Rubin is in South America, and the burglar and his friend are in trouble. The cops are looking for someone to blame. “Remember that murder that happened in a bar? Remember you said you saw the getaway car? You think you’d like to play ball with the law? Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin’ that night? Don’t forget that you are white.” This is a big part of the song. If the cops don’t force these men to lie, Rubin would have never even gone to court.
The cops keep harassing the burglars. “Now you don’t wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow.” They are afraid that Rubin will get away from a conviction. “That sonofabitch is brave and getting’ braver. We want to put his ass in stir. We want to pin this triple murder on him.” The chief thinks the Hurricane is a trouble maker, and he is determined to put Rubin away for this crime.
Rubin was a great boxer, but he wanted to get somewhere with his life. “Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice, and ride a horse along a trail.” This was his dream and his dream was taken from him during this time.
Rubin’s verdict was set. The trial “was a pig-circus, he never had a chance.” “No one doubted that he pulled the trigger” “The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed, and the all-white jury agreed.” Besides the fact that there was no evidence, it was hard for Rubin to defend himself because everyone was against him.
The Hurricane got screwed. He received murder “one”. The burglars testified. The songwriter then gives his views on the subject. “How can the life of such a man be in the palm of some fool’s hand? To see him obviously framed. Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game.” This was a great part to put in the song, because now Rubin has people on his side and this might have been a factor of him being released from prison.
As Rubin is in jail, all the real criminals, such as the burglars, the cops, and the judges, are free to do as they please while the Hurricane is stuck “like a Budda” in prison for something he didn’t do. The refrain just summarizes the story. “the man the authorities came to blame, for somethin’ that he never done” is what happened but no one back then saw it that way, and therefore ruined a man’s life and dreams.
This is the story of a falsely accused man that was well known. No evidence was presented, and the witnesses that were still alive were forced to testify against the accused. This man received no justice in America, in the land of the free. Bob Dylan explains in good detail, during this song, why Rubin “Hurricane” Carter is in prison and not holding the Heavyweight Crown.