Deconstructing ‘Murder Most Foul’…Bob Dylan and the assassination of JFK…

We know Bob Dylan for a lot of things — mostly, being a legendary grouchy, sarcastic,  brilliant songwriter and performer — but not about having an interest in the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

That is, until now…

Is Bob Dylan taking liberties with history in order to get us all worked up or just speaking from his heart? Does he borrow from the ideas of others in order to strike a deeper chord? Is there significance to his repetitive use of Masonic ideas? Here is an analysis of some of the points he makes from a veteran JFK assassination limousine researcher’s point of view…

Oh, “Murder Most Foul” was first said in Shakespeare’s Hamlet…
It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63
Dylan and his first wife, Sara, were married privately — a few have said “secretly” — on November 22, 1965, on the two-year anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Did this day have a special significance for them? Was this just an ironic coincidence, or a simple twist of fate?
Another early connection of Dylan to the assassination of JFK was when he outraged his conservative audience by expressing sympathy for Lee Harvey Oswald in his acceptance speech of the Tom Paine Award in December, 1963…
But Dylan has stayed pretty much mum until now. By choosing to take a pragmatic route about the JFK assassination through the years, did Dylan, with what appeared to be a studied silence, fall into becoming part of the Ongoing Coverup of what actually happened? Did he prefer to let his millions of fans think the Warren Commission must have got it right, rather than to encourage them to ask questions and require answers?
We might be tempted to think so.  But beneath the surface, in the area of Dylan’s subconscious, it seems that he was wrestling with the tragedy just like the rest of us.  Our first clue is an oblique reference in his eccentric collection of poetic images, Tarantula, where he mentions that the Warren Commission just doesn’t answer our questions.  Good for him!  But then, only fairly recently have scraps of poetry been recovered from the 60’s with references to Jackie, the riderless horse, and the assassination that even appear to correspond in some sense to curious exhibits of appropriated artwork at the Gagosian gallery.  This article gives an interesting explanation:
So now, not at all out of the blue, but finally and forcefully from Dylan’s soul, comes a veritable diatribe of conspiracy theories. What on earth could have prevented Dylan from speaking out before now?
Had he previously been somehow threatened into silence and only recently found the courage to speak out? Was he being muzzled by his record company? Was he just pulling another ‘goin electric’, to shock his fans once again?  How about the gospel years when he just switched gears and refused to sing any of his old songs?  Or is this just Dylan being enigmatic Dylan?  
Does he really contain multiples, as another of his new songs implies? Switching back and forth from one persona to another in the blink of an eye? Could there be a deeper plan with a hidden agenda to simply create controversy?  Spark chaos?  Or is this a courageous act worthy of our deepest respect?
Let’s see, and then decide for ourselves…

A day that will live on in infamy

FDR used this phrase in his speech on the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 — another day that shocked the nation and brought us into World War II
President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high
Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die

Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb

Princess Diana repeatedly referred to herself as a ‘lamb to the slaughter’

He said, “Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?”
“Of course we do, we know who you are!”
Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
Shot down like a dog in broad daylight
Was a matter of timing and the timing was right

You got unpaid debts, we’ve come to collect

JFK’s Papa Joe Kennedy made his first fortune bringing in illegal whisky and was closely involved with Mafia people.  Supposedly, he bought the election for JFK.  Some mobsters in Chicago were very unhappy about the way the Kennedys ignored them after the election. This is a possible motive connected to the assassination of JFK. 

We’re gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect
We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face

We’ve already got someone here to take your place
One of the more popular conspiracy theories is that LBJ knew all about the plot to assassinate JFK and carried on the cover-up afterward.  Here is a photo of LBJ with JFK taken in front of the Ft. Worth Hotel, just before the brief flight to Dallas Love Field. Decide for yourself if LBJ has a ‘lean and hungry look’ (Cassius, in Julius Caesar, also by Shakespeare)…

The day they blew out the brains of the king

David Icke has a chapter in his book “The Biggest Secret”about “The Goddess and the King” — Princess Diana and JFK….

Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing

No.  The motorcade was being televised in Dallas, but not the assassination itself.  There were a few hundred people at most in Dealey Plaza.
The public did not see the assassination until they saw, first, frames of the Zapruder film in Life magazine. Most did not actually see the Zapruder film itself until 1975.  I happened to be extremely fortunate to see a copy of it at the St. Charles Theatre in NYC in November, 1964.  (This is so unusual that although others have confirmed the viewing, I am to this point the only one I know of willing to talk about it to the public.)

It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done

The Killing of the Sun King is described by James Shelby Downard in King/Kill 33. It discusses the numerous Masonic connections to the assassination.

https://www.revisionisthistory.org/kingkill33.html

Wolfman, oh Wolfman, oh Wolfman, howl

A reference to 60’s DJ Wolfman Jack; also maybe an oblique reference to “Wolf” gang Mozart. There is also a reference in ICM to ‘wolf’. Wolfgang Mozart was a Mason.  He was assassination not long after the opera The Magic Flute began its performances in Vienna.  Some said they thought the Masons had a connection to what happened to him.

Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul

Hush, little children, you’ll understand
The Beatles are comin’, they’re gonna hold your hand

This seems to be spoken in irony.  I want to Hold Your Hand is an early Beatles hit.  They are NOT going to hold your hand.

Slide down the banister, go get your coat
This may be a reference to the Beatles’ song Helter Skelter. Also could be a reference to Guy Bannister, NOLA ex-FBI agent whom Jim Garrison thought had a connection to the assassination.

Ferry ‘cross the Mersey and go for the throat

David Ferrie popped up on Garrison’s radar early-on, and would have been his star witness, but he died unexpectedly just after the investigation broke in the press.  This could be a reference to him.  This was also the title of a 1964 movie about the Liverpool band Gerry and the Pacemakers…https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059175/

There’s three bums comin’ all dressed in rags
This was an area of fascination in the 90’s, based on a book written by self-styled Dylanologist and garbologist A.J. Weberman with his colleague Michael Canfield called “Coup d’Etat in America”…
AJ doesn’t have a lot of good things to say about Dylan. In fact, he claims Dylan once bashed his head into the sidewalk.  Granted, AJ was probably going through Dylan’s garbage, but just the same…
Pick up the pieces and lower the flags
I’m goin’ to Woodstock, it’s the Aquarian Age
Bob Dylan and his family lived in Woodstock during the time of the folk festival, but they did not go to it, and Dylan did not perform there.  In fact, it seems Dylan was quite upset at all the tumult.  Even prior to the Woodstock festival the continuing disruption of fans coming into Woodstock and to his home, and sometimes even into his house,  was an ongoing source of distress. 
The “Age of Aquarius” was a well-known song from the 60’s play/movie “Hair”.

Then I’ll go over to Altamont and sit near the stage

Altamont is noted for the violence that occurred at that festival.  Bob Dylan was not a part of that. The Rolling Stones were.  Meredith Hunter approached the stage armed with a gun and knife. Hells’ Angel members, hired as security, killed him. Some say it was a human sacrifice. The tragedy was caught on film and immortalized in the documentary “Gimme Shelter”…https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065780/
Don McLean also articulated his horror at the murder in the 1971 song “American Pie”…https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32196117
Put your head out the window, let the good times roll
There’s a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll
Another conspiracy theory that there was a shooter and/or other activity going on behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll.  This is the famous Moorman photo…
Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President
Nellie Connally, seated with her husband, Gov. John Connally, on the jump seats of the Presidential limousine, said these words to JFK just before he was shot…
Put your foot in the tank and then step on the gas
Secret Service agent William Greer was the driver of the Presidential limousine.  He slowed the limo and turned to face JFK, but after the fatal headshot was fired, turned forward and did gun the limo into action. 

Try to make it to the triple underpass

SS100X racing into the Triple Underpass after the shooting.  Here is the Altgens 1-7 photo that shows that. You can also see Jackie Kennedy , who had tried to exit the limo, being pushed back into the limousine by Secret Service agent Clint Hill. Jackie had come a hair’s breadth from being killed herself.


Blackface singer, whiteface clown
Better not show your faces after the sun goes down
Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat

The Dallas Police were involved in tracking down Lee Harvey Oswald in the Texas Theater after one of their own, J.D. Tippit, was killed soon after the assassination. Some think Oswald killed Tippit as well as JFK. Their Chief, Jesse Curry, was in the spotlight all week-end, and even more so on Sunday when Lee Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby while in DPD custody. This photo was taken just a second before that happened…

Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
Beverly Oliver, who says she was the “Babushka Woman” on the Zapruder film, wrote a book called “Nightmare on Elm Street”.  The events in Dallas have also been called by that name. 

When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe
Don’t ask what your country can do for you

“Deep Elum” is a nickname for an area of nightlife off of Elm Street
JFK asked us what we could do for our country in his Inaugural Address in January, 1961.

Cash on the barrelhead, money to burn
Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn

The limousine made a left-hand turn from Houston onto Elm. The limo has just made the turn in this photo. The Texas School Book Depository is in the background.
I’m going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride
The crossroads is traditionally the place where a bluesman goes to decide whether to serve God or the devil.  Robert Johnson was supposed to be the first to do this.  He chose the devil, could then play anything, and became instantly famous.
Some have wondered if Dylan did the same thing, as he shot to fame out of nowhere, his first album selling miserably. His first concert at Carnegie Hall, in a small venue, was sponsored, and just 54 people attended. But then, out of the blue, he skyrocketed to fame. Some have said this was undeserved. One of his early albums, Highway 61 revisited, may allude to the crossroads — that was one of the roads Robert Johnson went to. 
One of Bob Dylan’s most famous songs is the Grammy-winning You’ve Gotta Serve Somebody. This was the last song on his main set from last fall’s US tour as well, so Dylan is well aware of the crossroads. 

The place where faith, hope, and charity died
Shoot him while he runs, boy, shoot him while you can
See if you can shoot the invisible man
Goodbye, Charlie! Goodbye, Uncle Sam
Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don’t give a damn

Rhett Butler’s last words to Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone with the Wind’

What is the truth, and where did it go?
Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know

Some researchers think Oswald and Ruby knew each other.  

“Shut your mouth,” said a wise old owl
Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul

Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen

Tommy was a 1975 movie about a deaf and dumb boy who became a pinball wizard…https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073812/ The Acid Queen is a song from Tommy…
I’m riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine

JFK was riding in a Midnight Blue Presidential limousine.  He chose the color. The limo was not painted black until LBJ had it rebuilt and insisted on that. Check out my website at ss100x.com for more information on the limousine. In this photo, taken in front of the White House of JFK with the President of India shows the color clearly..

Ridin’ in the back seat next to my wife
Headed straight on in to the afterlife
I’m leaning to the left, I got my head in her lap
Hold on, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap
Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give
We’re right down the street, from the street where you live

The Street Where You Live is a song from the 60’s show and movie “My Fair Lady”…

They mutilated his body and they took out his brain
David Lifton’s book “Best Evidence” is the likely source of the body mutilation theory.
Dylan may also have seen the movie JFK, by Oliver Stone, which references anomalies at the autopsy.

What more could they do? They piled on the pain
But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at
For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
Send me some lovin’, then tell me no lie

Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by
Another 90’s conspiracy theory, pretty much debunked.
Wake up, little Susie, let’s go for a drive
Cross the Trinity River, let’s keep hope alive
When Lee Oswald left the Texas School Book Depository after the assassination, he went to his rooming house in Oak Cliff, going across the Trinity River by cab.  ‘Trinity’ is also a Masonic reference — the number 3.
Turn the radio on, don’t touch the dials
Parkland Hospital, only six more miles
The Presidential limousine with the fatally shot JFK and nearly dead Gov. Connally raced to Parkland Hospital after the assassination. Once JFK and Gov. Connally were taken into the hospital on stretchers, the limo was covered with the roof pieces carried in the trunk by a Secret Service agent, shown here. 

You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head

The Magic Bullet Theory was initiated by Arlen Specter of the Warren Commission to show how only one bullet could have hit both JFK and Gov. John Connally.  This theory is not taken seriously by a lot of researchers. It was not the ‘magic bullet’ that hit JFK in the head, it was a different bullet.  Dylan may be taking artistic liberty here, or else does not know this, or may be reflecting what he has heard from others…

I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline

When Lee Oswald was asked if he had shot anyone he said he had not, and that he was ‘just a patsy.’

Never shot anyone from in front or behind
I’ve blood in my eye, got blood in my ear
I’m never gonna make it to the new frontier

JFK’s plan for the country was called the New Frontier.

Zapruder’s film I seen night before
Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more

The Zapruder film was not seen by the general public until 1975 when Geraldo Rivera showed it on the TV program Good Night America.

It’s vile and deceitful, it’s cruel and it’s mean
Ugliest thing that you ever have seen
They killed him once and they killed him twice
Killed him like a human sacrifice

James Shelby Downard wrote about Masonic symbolism in the assassination of JFK in an essay called “King Kill 33 degrees” .  This document is no longer available in the anthology it was originally published in, but is available online at https://www.revisionisthistory.org/kingkill33.html.  Dylan could have borrowed some of his Masonic references, such as this, from Downard. The numbers 3 and 33 have Masonic significance.

The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son
The age of the Antichrist has just only begun”

Air Force One comin’ in through the gate
Air Force One did not move on the tarmac after its brief flight from Ft. Worth.  Dylan is mistaken. The casket was taken to it by ambulance and then loaded onto the plane, as seen here…

Johnson sworn in at 2:38

LBJ insisted on being sworn in on Air Force One. It was not needed, as he automatically became President on the death of JFK. LBJ insisted that Jackie accompany him.  He and Lady Bird had a nice white outfit ready for her to wear, but she refused to change out of her blood-soaked pink suit..  “I want them to see what they have done,” she said.

Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel
It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it’s thirty-six hours past Judgment Day
Wolfman Jack, he’s speaking in tongues
He’s going on and on at the top of his lungs

This is  a reference to the DJ Wolfman Jack, but may also be an oblique reference to Wolfgang Mozart whose music had something extraordinary about it…hence the ‘speaking in tongues’ which is a Biblical reference…it could also be a reference to the Zauberflote, which the Masons may have pledged to try to silence…without success…

Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack

Dylan may be combining the JFK and Mozart assassinations here.

Play it for me in my long Cadillac

JFK’s limousine was a stretch ’61 Lincoln Continental Convertible.

Play me that “Only the Good Die Young”
Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung

Play “St. James Infirmary” and the Court of King James
“St. James Infirmary Blues” is a dirge played at the funeral parade of a blues musician in New Orleans.
Papa Joe Kennedy was Ambassador to the Court of St. James for FDR, who ended up having to fire him because, as a fervent Hitler appeaser, he advised that the US could not win a war against Hitler. This could be an oblique reference to him.

If you want to remember, you better write down the names
Play Etta James, too, play “I’d Rather Go Blind”
Play it for the man with the telepathic mind
Play John Lee Hooker, play “Scratch My Back”
Play it for that strip club owner named Jack

A reference to Jack Ruby, who owned a strip club.
Guitar Slim going down slow
Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was said to have had an affair with JFK while he was President., and perhaps RFK as well.  Marilyn sang “Happy Birthday” to JFK in May, 1962 at Madison Square Garden. Here they are pictured together.  Jackie did not attend. Marilyn died a few months later.  

This might also be another oblique reference to Princess Diana, who was compared to Marilyn Monroe by some, and even eulogized by Elton John in his rewrite of “Candle in the Wind” for Diana’s funeral. Princess Diana also died in a limousine — in her case, a black Mercedes sedan, in the Alma tunnel on August 31, 1997.

Play “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
Play it for the First Lady, she ain’t feeling any good
Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey
Take it to the limit and let it go by
Play it for Carl Wilson, too
Looking far, far away down Gower Avenue
Play “Tragedy”, play “Twilight Time”
Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime
Play another one and “Another One Bites the Dust”
Play “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In God We Trust”
Ride the pink horse down that long, lonesome road

Stand there and wait for his head to explode

There were bystanders all along the route at Dealey Plaza, but most of them had no idea what was taking place.  The driver of the limousine, however, SA William Greer, slowed down the limo and turned and faced JFK until after the fatal headshot was fired.  You can see this on the Zapruder film.

Play “Mystery Train” for Mr. Mystery
The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree
Play it for the reverend, play it for the pastor
Play it for the dog that got no master
Play Oscar Peterson, play Stan Getz
Play “Blue Sky,” play Dickey Betts
Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk
Charlie Parker and all that junk
All that junk and “All That Jazz”
Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz
Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd
Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd
Play the numbers, play the odds
Play “Cry Me a River” for the Lord of the gods
Play Number nine, play Number six
Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks
Play Nat King Cole, play “Nature Boy”
Play “Down in the Boondocks” for Terry Malloy
Play “It Happened One Night” and “One Night of Sin”
There’s twelve million souls that are listening in
Play “Merchant of Venice”, play “Merchants of Death”
Play “Stella by Starlight” for Lady Macbeth
Don’t worry, Mr. President, help’s on the way
Your brothers are comin’, there’ll be hell to pay

Robert F. Kennedy, who was killed in 1968 and Ted Kennedy.

Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell?
Tell them, “We’re waiting, keep coming,” we’ll get them as well
Love Field is where his plane touched down
But it never did get back up off the ground
Was a hard act to follow, second to none
They killed him on the altar of the rising sun
Play “Misty” for me and “That Old Devil Moon”
Play “Anything Goes” and “Memphis in June”
Play “Lonely at the Top” and “Lonely Are the Brave”
Play it for Houdini spinning around in his grave
Play Jelly Roll Morton, play “Lucille”
Play “Deep in a Dream”, and play “Driving Wheel”
Play “Moonlight Sonata” in F-sharp
And “A Key to the Highway” for the king on the harp
Play “Marching Through Georgia” and “Dumbarton’s Drums”
Play darkness and death will come when it comes
Play “Love Me or Leave Me” by the great Bud Powell
Play “The Blood-Stained Banner”, play “Murder Most Foul”

For additional references Dylan makes, this is a good article:

Beyond JFK: 20 Historical References in Bob Dylan’s ‘Murder Most Foul’

This is an interesting article about the influences — especially Masonic — in MMF…I am starting to wonder if Dylan is using Masonic symbolism deliberately and intentionally from his own experiences, rather than drawing second-hand from existing sources.

View at Medium.com

Minneapolis, Minnesota May 29, 2020

Last night my city was on fire because of a Murder Most Foul.
George Floyd had been unlawfully killed in broad daylight, before our eyes.
The 3rd Precinct went up in flames
protesters hurled debris into the cauldron,
and fists into the air
at one point some said the gas lines had been cut
the building could explode
police and fire stood down and anarchy reigned in the streets

citizens locked themselves in their homes, not knowing what to expect…

May 30. 2020

Last night we had curfews, but some disobeyed…

More fires, more violence..

Today Gov. Walz called out the full National Guard, for the first time in its history

And State Patrol as well

He said most of the protesters are from out-of-state

and have some sort of agenda

In addition, violence has erupted in protests all across this country

What has changed since the days of Dr. Martin Luther King?

Anything?

This tragedy occurred the day after Bob Dylan’s 79th birthday.

Is this murder most foul simply an odd coincidence?  
The Bob Dylan mural at Hennepin and 5th in Minneapolis is not near any area of disturbance…
Wherever he is, he is not here…
Until today…June 12, 2020…
when he said this one day after the murder of George Floyd…
“It sickened me no end to see George tortured to death like that,” he said. “It was beyond ugly. Let’s hope that justice comes swift for the Floyd family and for the nation.”
Impressive, Mr. Dylan.  The world listens to you…
But apparently not the New York Times, who failed to ask Dylan a single question about how he became so passionate about the JFK assassination and why he is sure it was a conspiracy, and not the work of one man acting alone.  In fact, the Ongoing Coverup of the JFK assassination tends to do this at the level of the press.  They troll conspiracy but then end up with “that silly little Communist did it,” which is, of course, a redux of the failed Warren Commission Report.  Dylan has challenged this, and it is to his credit.
My colleague Jefferson Morley has written an insightful essay on the questions the NYT failed to ask Dylan:
We would all love to know exactly what Dylan is thinking about the assassination of JFK. Murder Most Foul has brought the research community alive and has created a firestorm in the general public.  People love it as a song, and treasure it as a poetic statement about this tragedy and our country.
Whatever Dylan is thinking — and a lot of us hope he is able to speak out — we can all agree that with Bob on our side, who is ever going to believe the Warren Commission Report again?
Thanks, Mr. Dylan…
August 29, 2020
Minneapolis is reeling from another week of unrest, due, this time, to a tragic suicide on the Nicollet Mall that passers-by mistakenly attributed to police brutality. Stores were looted, fires were started, and pandemonium again tried to rear its ugly head.  This time, however, Gov. Walz and Mayor Frey quickly called in assistance from the State Patrol and National Guard.  A curfew was also put in place.  At one point, due to a fire at Brit’s Pub at 11th and Nicollet, we could say that troops pretty much surrounded Orchestra Hall, just across the street.
And that brings us to an odd Dylan coincidence.  In his last concert tour, he populated the stage with a handful of dummies in symphony dress.  One of them was a bass player dressed in a summer tux.  Ironically, I was for a short time married to a bass player from the Minnesota Orchestra who was wearing a summer tux on the night we met. Odd coincidence, or is Dylan also psychic?
Better yet — is Dylan some kind of prophet– as he says, or doesn’t say — in False Prophet?  Could this be the Dylan connection I have been trying to figure out for the last year or so?  Could Dylan possibly know that I am — or we are — heading to a showdown involving this man at Orchestra Hall?
I call it Minnegeddon…
Hmmm….

2 thoughts on “Deconstructing ‘Murder Most Foul’…Bob Dylan and the assassination of JFK…

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