"Percy's Song" as written by and Bob Dylan....
Bad news, bad news came to me where I sleep
Turn, turn, turn again
Sayin' one of your friends is in trouble deep
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

Tell me the trouble, tell me once to my ear
Turn, turn, turn again
Joliet prison and ninety-nine years
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

Oh what's the charge of how this came to be?
Turn, turn, turn again
Manslaughter in the highest of degrees
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

I sat down and wrote the best words I could write
Turn, turn, turn again
Explaining to the judge I'd be there on Wednesday night
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

Without a reply I left by the moon
Turn, turn, turn again
And was in his chambers by the next afternoon
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

Could you tell me the facts, I said without fear
Turn, turn, turn again
That a friend of mine would get ninety-nine years
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

A crash on the highway flew the car to a field
Turn, turn, turn again
There was four persons killed and he was at the wheel
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

But I know him as good as I'm knowin' myself
Turn, turn, turn again
And he wouldn't harm a life that belonged to someone else
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

The judge he spoke out of the side of his mouth
Turn, turn, turn again
Sayin',"The witness who saw he left no doubt"
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

That may be true, he's got a sentence to serve
Turn, turn, turn again
But ninety-nine years, he just don't deserve
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

Too late, too late for his case it is sealed
Turn, turn, turn again
His sentenced is passed and it cannot be repealed
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

But he ain't no criminal and his crime it is none
Turn, turn, turn again
What happened to him could happen to anyone
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

And at that the judge jerked forward and his face it did freeze
Turn, turn, turn again
Sayin',"Could you kindly leave my office now, please"
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

The room was funny and I stood up so slow
Turn, turn, turn again
With no other choice except for to go
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

I walked down the hallway and I heard his door slam
Turn, turn, turn again
I walked down the courthouse stairs and I did not understand
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

And I played my guitar through the night to the day
Turn, turn, turn again
And the only tune my guitar could play
Was, "Oh the cruel rain and the wind"


Lyrics submitted by glennbass

"Percy's Song" as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © WB MUSIC CORP

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Percy's Song song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI just have to say something about this song because its so great and it deserves a comment. TIs one of my favorite lesser-known Dylan tracks. Its meaning is pretty straightforward really, its about how "justice" can be quite unjust at times.
    afbaileyon June 11, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentprobably my favorite dylan song. very underated as far as his real folk goes. the guitar is great
    deadrevivalon December 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne of the most gorgeous resigned helplessness songs you'll ever hear in your life
    hellopeopleon January 31, 2008   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis is also one of my favorite songs of Dylan's and was unfortunately rarely played live (although it was on occasion). The content of the song is rather explicit, but looking at it in a greater context gives the song an entirely new meaning.

    I first heard this song from a Dylan boxset where it was juxtaposed with "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol" wherein a socialite commits an intentional murder and is receives virtually nothing more than a slap on the wrist. In contrast, Percy's Song is about the unintentional killing by a common person. It furthers Dylan's message of social inequality between the wealthy and lower to middle class common folk. Further, the judge in the song uses bureaucratic red-tape to end the argument to say that even if he wanted to, he couldn't change it because there is a 'process', and this process is more important than individual fairness, which Dylan uses to point out the negative repercussions of utilitarianism, and the helplessness of falling victim to it's system of "justice". Dylan uses this song to point out that the goal of the criminal judicial system is ultimately to discourage bad behavior and reform offenders, not simply to sadistically punish. In giving a sentence of 99 years for a "true" accident that may not have been avoidable (as we do not have any of the facts to that point, though it seems implied to have been unavoidable), the sentence does nothing to deter general negative behavior or specifically bad driving, but rather is grossly inconsistent with the offense (as we understand it to be). When Dylan begins to play his guitar at the end, it's not merely for Percy, but rather for all people.

    It is worth noting that the judicial system is regularly accused of scapegoating people to obtain a sense of justice. In this particular example, it seems clear that Percy was responsible for these deaths, accidental or not, so to say he was scapegoated may be exaggerated, however simply because four people die does not mean that someone must go to jail. Ultimately, circumstances should dictate any judicial sentence and there should not be any kind of hard and fast rule that if X kills A-D, then X gets Y years in prison, all contributing factors aside which seems to have been the analysis that happened as the judge explained.
    CoryGreenwellon August 31, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSad that this song is not very well known. Sad song about a driver who had a wreak driving in "The Wind and the Rain". Not as another posted about driving drunk, must not have ever listened to the words or know the true story behind it.
    A song about a cruel judge who sentenced a man to 99 years to Joliet Prison for an accident caused by the weather.
    I purchased this album, and still have it, for other of Bob Dylan's hits that were playing on the radio, but this song that I never heard before, like so many I've purchased, ended up being my favorite.
    It's so awesome that so many great musicians bring us awareness about such matters we might not of ever heard of.
    SLYcraftson March 07, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPlaying at Carnegie Hall 26th of October 1963 Bob Dylan told the audience "Here's a song I wrote. It's about a friend of mine. It's called Percy's Song. I took the tune from a song that a folk singer by the name of Paul Clayton sings, called 'The Wind and the Rain'."
    Bob Dylan has a 7:29 minute cut of this song on John Birch Society Blues.
    SLYcraftson March 07, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe final line: "And the only tune My guitar could play \ Was, 'Oh the Cruel Rain And the Wind.'" is a reference to a real song, "Oh, the Wind and Rain (The Two Sisters)". You can read the lyrics here: sniff.numachi.com/pages/….

    Apparently Dylan performed this folk song early in his career, and I'm guessing the tune of Percy's Song is somewhat similar. The lyrics describe completely different circumstances, but in the end, both instruments can only play, "Oh, the cruel rain and the wind."
    clovuson July 07, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA rather naive shaggy-dog story, which has rightly remained obscure.
    Equinason May 01, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhich is why Bob doesn't sing it, and Joan Baez does (chuckle).
    Equinason May 02, 2016   Link
  • -1
    General Commentits cleary about his friend who killed four people drunk driving, and the sentence that he gets is not fair in comparision to the accidental(ness) of the crime
    JeffAugustaon June 26, 2007   Link

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