Thursday, November 03, 2005

Dylan and the Courts

My blog, my artistic preferences. Bob Dylan has arguably been American's greatest songwriter for the last fifty years, reflecting on many aspects of the nations' experience. However, from my purely non-academic studies, he appears to have a deep suspicion of the justice system. However, he does not appear to trust the popular whim of the jury nor the removed elitism of the judge. Inscrutable as ever, that crafty Dylan. I'll leave you with these pieces to reflect on:

"Drifter's Escape," Bob Dylan

"Oh, help me in my weakness,"
I heard the drifter say,
As they carried him from the courtroom
And were taking him away.
"My trip hasn't been a pleasant one
And my time it isn't long,
And I still do not know
What it was that I've done wrong."

Well, the judge, he cast his robe aside,
A tear came to his eye,
"You fail to understand," he said,
"Why must you even try?"
Outside, the crowd was stirring,
You could hear it from the door.
Inside, the judge was stepping down,
While the jury cried for more.

"Oh, stop that cursed jury,"
Cried the attendant and the nurse,
"The trial was bad enough,
But this is ten times worse."
Just then a bolt of lightning
Struck the courthouse out of shape,
And while ev'rybody knelt to pray
The drifter did escape.

Excerpt from "Hurricane," Bob Dylan

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 to 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.

Excerpt from "The Death of Emmett Till"

And then to stop the United States of yelling for a trial,
Two brothers they confessed that they had killed poor Emmett Till.
But on the jury there were men who helped the brothers commit this awful crime,
And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody seemed to mind.

I saw the morning papers but I could not bear to see
The smiling brothers walkin' down the courthouse stairs.
For the jury found them innocent and the brothers they went free,
While Emmett's body floats the foam of a Jim Crow southern sea.

Excerpt from "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all's equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught 'em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom,
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin' that way without warnin'.
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished,
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance,
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence.
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears.

1 Comments:

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11:30 PM  

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