Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall
She sees a bartender in a pool of blood
Cries out, "my God, they killed them all"

Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he coulda been
The champion of the world

Three bodies lyin' there, does Patty see
And another man named Bello, movin' around mysteriously
"I didn't do it" he says, and he throws up his hands
"I was only robbin' the register, I hope you understand"

"I saw them leavin'" he says, and he stops
"One of us had better call up the cops"
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene
With their red lights flashin' in a hot New Jersey night

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin' around
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down

When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time 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 want to draw the heat

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin' around
He said "I saw two men runnin' out, they looked like middleweights
Jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates"
And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head
Cop said "Wait a minute, boys, this one's not dead"
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him he could identify the guilty men

Four in the mornin' and they haul Rubin in
They took him to the hospital and they brought him upstairs
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin' eye
Say "Why'd you bring him in here for? He ain't the guy"

Here's the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he coulda been
The champion of the world

Four months later, the ghettos are in flame
Rubin's in South America, fightin' for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley's still in the robbery game
And the cops are puttin' the screws to him, lookin' for somebody 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 mighta been that fighter that you saw runnin' that night?"
"Don't forget that you are white"

Arthur Dexter Bradley said "I'm really not sure"
The cops said "A poor boy like you, could use this break
We got you for the motel job and we're talkin' to your friend Bello
You don't want to have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow
You'll be doin' society a favor
That son of a bitch is brave and gettin' braver
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain't no Gentleman Jim"

Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much
"It's my work" he'd say, "and I do it for pay
And when it's over I'd just as soon go on my way"

Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse

All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance
The judge made Rubin's witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched, he was a revolutionary bum

And for the black folks he was just a crazy nigger
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger
And though they could not produce the gun
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed

Rubin Carter was falsely tried
The crime was murder one, guess who testified?
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride

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

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell

Yes, that's the story of the Hurricane
But it won't be over 'til they clear his name
And give him back the time he's done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he coulda been
The champion of the world

Lyrics submitted by oofus

Hurricane Lyrics as written by Bob Dylan Jacques Levy

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Hurricane song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +4
    General CommentEven if Carter was guilty, which i am sceptical about, that website takes things far, far too litreally. Of course Dylan wouldn't know how things went down that night or what people said to eachother. He's telling his interpratation of the story of Rubin Carter.
    And even if Carter WAS guilty, he still wasn't given a fair trial.
    paulleonard666on July 11, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthe violin in this song is incredible.

    this song alone is incredible.. oy oy oy, bob dylan i adore you.
    digitalloveon July 24, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've read that web site mentioned by leif, and it treats the song as some kind of legal document, dylan iobviously wasnt trying to make a case that would hold up in court; he was writing a song about what he felt was right. He based it on what he knew/ was told by reuben, and the examples of racism in teh song are not meant to be specific, theyre just meant to show that racism was involved in this case. This song doesnt even have to be restricted to carter.
    bobdylaniscoolon January 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne of my favorite Dylan songs, and that's saying a lot.

    I've seen the website, and I'm more or less familiar witht he story behind the song, but I won't pretend to know whether or not Carter was innocent. Like people have said, there's evidance on both sides.

    But the thing is that, even if this specific incident is all bungled up in the facts, situation like it happen a lot. Today it might be a black guy convicted of theft even though he was nowhere near the crime scene. Tomorrow it might be a white guy executed for a murder he didn't commit. The justice system is far from perfect, and in essence, that's what this song is pointing out.
    Nick the Bastardon July 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn french, marron means brown.
    finechildon February 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOnly Dylan could tell a story in a song so effectively. Absolute genious, i was blown away.

    Oh dear.
    wilsorjgon April 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't think we will ever be able to declare whether or not Rubin Carter was innocent, and that's because his trial was unfair. And that website was mostly saying 'NO WAY! He wasn't the best boxer! Therefore, he killed people!'
    missworld77on May 08, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentu fucking idiots. who gives a damn if he got a couple things wrong. it is a great song with great lyrics.
    mauman555on May 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentu fucking idiots. who gives a damn if he got a couple things wrong. it is a great song with great lyrics.
    mauman555on May 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is just an amazing song, regardless of whether or not you believe Carter was guilty. The violin parts are absolutely beautiful and the way Dylan tells his view is incredible.

    While I don't necessarily believe Carter is guilty or innocent, the website that basically discredits everything Dylan wrote is bullshit. The song also focuses more on how it was an UNFAIR trial, regardless of whether or not he was guilty. To the people who say there were 2 blacks on the jury, that was his 2nd trial. The first trial was an all-white jury.

    Also, the line "at one time, he coulda been the champion of the world" doesn't mean he was necessarily the #1 contender (although he says #1 contender in another part of the song). This just means he had a shot at becoming champion at one point in his career, not necessarily when he got arrested. You people just took that line out of context. It is fair to say that someone who is the #3 contender could have become the champion of the world, so please shutup about this point.

    The part about Patty Valentine not seeing the bartender's body behind the bar? Who gives a shit, there were 3 bodies there does it really matter whether she only saw 2 or 3? No, not at all. So again, shutup about this too because it has absolutely no relevence.

    What difference does it make who called the cops, or what the exact dialogue was? Dylan was just trying to tell the story from his point of view. Why was Bello robbing the register? Again, who gives a shit. That website talks about how Dylan got a bunch of pointless facts wrong (most of which was discovered in trials AFTER the song was written).
    DrunkDogon July 05, 2007   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top