Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs at Dealey Plaza


Phil Ochs & Bob Dylan jamming at the Cafe Espresso, Woodstock, NY ...
Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan 

Bob Dylan became entwined in the JFK assassination saga early on, when he began to write political songs like “Masters of War,” took an interest in Cuba and the Castro Revolution and supported the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), which got the government to take interest in him, as it did John Lennon and Phil Ochs.

Phil Ochs was a close friend of Dylan in the Greenwich Village beatnick and folk music scene in the early sixties, and their mutual respect for Castro and their support for the FPCC got them involved with the government’s focus on the public support and power such protest singers were garnering. And the FBI-CIA took operational interest in the FPCC, specially in New York City, where Oswald got his posters and leaflets and official FPFCC ID.

Phil Ochs had attended the exclusive Staunton military academy in Virginia with the son of Barry Goldwater, and was a US Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadet at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where his dormitory roomate Jim Glover, gave him a guitar and taught him how to play. Glover was an Army ROTC cadet while Ochs was Air Force, the same ROTC unit at the same college where US Air Force General Curtis LeMay received his first stripes.

Ochs was connected.

Ochs went to Ohio State to study journalism and developed an interest in politics, with a particular interest in the Cuban Revolution of 1959. At Ohio State he met Jim Glover, a fellow student who was a devotee of folk music. Glover introduced Ochs to the music of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and The Weavers. Glover taught Ochs how to play guitar, and they debated politics. Ochs began writing newspaper articles, often on radical themes. When the student paper refused to publish some of his more radical articles, he started his own underground newspaper called The Word. His two main interests, politics and music, soon merged, and Ochs began writing topical political songs. Ochs and Glover formed a duet called "The Singing Socialists", later renamed "The Sundowners", but the duo broke up before their first professional performance and Glover went to New York City to become a folksinger.

After Glover dropped out of school and moved to New York City, marrying another folk singer, Ochs shortly thereafter joined them. Glover and his wife were the couple that allowed other folk singers to sleep on their couch, as they are portrayed in the move, “Inside Llewyn Davis” - which is based loosely by the story of Dave van Ronk, a star of the Greenwich Village folk scene around the time of Bob Dylan's arrival there in 1961. Dylan learned a lot from van Ronk. 

Glover and Phil Ochs were also part of that Greenwich Village folk scene, playing the same clubs and recording together when Dylan showed up on the scene in 1961, when the government was taking an interest in their activities and began to monitor the situation. It especially became acute when the folk singers began to support the Castro revolution in Cuba and lead the protests of the war in Vietnam.

While Dylan wrote some emphatic protest songs, he said he claimed he wasn’t a protest singer, but Ochs out did him in writing protest songs about General Walker, Medgar Evers, and such political songs as, “Draft Dogger Rag,” “Talking Vietnam:” – “Talking Cuban Crisis” - “Ten Cents a Coup” - “United Fruit” - “Talkin’ Cuban Crisis” - “Santo Dominigo” - “Joe Hill,” - “I’m Not Marching Anymore” - “Ballad of Billie Sol” (Estes), - “Christine Keeler” – a women at the heart of the Profumo affair that involved JFK, “The Thresher” – About the USS Thresher (SSN-593) a nuclear powered attack submarine that sand by accident on April 10, 1963, and  “Where Were You in Chicago” – “William Butler Yats Visits Lincoln Park and Escapes Unscathed,” inspired by the police riot that broke up protests during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

I actually knew Ochs from us being together on Eugene McCarthy’s 18th floor of the Conrad Hilton Hotel after the Chicago 1968 Democratic Convention had ended, and I sat on the floor across the hall from him as he played guitar and sang, shortly before the Chicago cops raided us, tear gassed and arrested us in what a Presidential Commission would later call a “Police Riot.”

Ochs also wrote “Crucifiction,” that’s described as: “About the rise and fall of a hero, and the public's role in creating, destroying, and deifying its heroes. The song usually is interpreted as an allegory likening the life and assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy to the career of Jesus, although the song may refer to other heroes as well.”

According to Jim Glover, Phil Ochs kept his connection with his Ohio State Air Force ROTC lieutenant and reported on his activities, especially those involving his support of Castro and the FPCC in New York, which received written communications with Oswald and sent him pamphlets and booklets.

Glover says that on the day of the assassination Phil was in Dallas, at Dealey Plaza, and that there is a photo of him standing by the Dal-Tex building on Houston Street, right where he said he was. Phil told Glover he was told to go there “as a national security observer,” and when he got home later that night, told his wife that he felt his life was in danger and he had a fear he was going to die.

JFKcountercoup: Phil Ochs at Dealey Plaza?JFKcountercoup: Phil Ochs at Dealey Plaza?

Former college roommate Jim Glover says this is Phil Ochs at Dealey Plaza 

Ochs later took on the name of John Train, the name of a real CIA official who worked out of New York City, whose offices were used by CIA agents to debrief George deMohrenschildt before he went to Haiti shortly before the assassination. Train has said he never heard of Phil Ochs or his use of his name.

Ochs, while using the John Train pseudonym and persona, hung himself.


Meanwhile, Bob Dylan was deeply affected by the murder of JFK and often played a classical LP that he felt appropriate.

When Dylan received the Thomas Paine Award, he dedicated it to the students who were traveling to Cuba against US policy, and went out of his way to mention the assassination of the President, and was booed by the audience when he said he could sympathize with Oswald – much like music master Leonard Bernstein (who did the music for West Side Story) and was booed when he said that we know JFK was killed as a result of a conspiracy but don’t want to admit or acknowledge that.

Dylan told Kurt Loder in a Rolling Stone Magazine interview that Martin Luther King and the Kennedy brothers are spiritual icons who planted seeds that are still growing today. “I don’t know what people’s errors are: nobody’s perfect, for sure,” Dylan said. But I thought Kennedy, both Kennedys – I just liked them. And I liked Martin Luther King. I thought those people who were blessed and touched, you know? The fact that they all went out with bullets doesn’t change nothin’. Because thee good they do gets planted. And those seeds live on longer than that.”

And in his autobiographical Chronicals Dylan recounts how his mother told him she saw JFK when Kennedy visited Hibbing, Minnesota during a campaign tour, which led Dylan to say that he would have voted for JFK for just visiting his hometown. Dylan’s mother and father Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman, were in the audience when he performed at Carnegie Hall. Dylan had legally changed his name from Robert A. Zimmerman to Bob Dylan in 1962 and arranged for his parents to be in the audience for the Carnegie Hall show, a big step for him to go from playing coffee houses, cafes and nightclubs to performing solo at Carnegie Hall.

At the time of the assassination, “Dylan was on his way uptown to see (his manager Al) Grossman on the afternoon of Friday, November 22, 1963, when John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas,” writes Dylan biographer Anthony Scaduto (Bob Dylan, New American Library, p. 186), who quotes Dylan as telling him, “I watched it at my manager’s office. The next night, Saturday, I had a concert upstate (New York) in Ithica or Buffalo. There was a really down feeling in the air. I had to go on stage, I couldn’t cancel. I went to the hall and to my amazement the hall was filled. Everybody turned out for the concert.”

“The song I was opening with was ‘The Times They Are a Changing” and I thought, ‘Wow, how can I open with that song? I’ll get rocks thrown at me. That song was just too much for the day after the assassination. But I had to sing it. My whole concert takes off from there.”

“I know I had no understanding of anything. Something had just gone haywire in the country and they were applauding that song. And I couldn’t understand why they were clapping or why I wrote that song even. I couldn’t understand anything. For me, it was just insane.”

According to Scaduto, “When he returned to the Village he, (girl fiend) Suze (Rotolo) and Carla sat and watched the national tragedy through the rest of the weekend and into the Monday morning funeral. Like so many across the nation, they were engrossed in the events unfolding before them: the murder of Oswald, the funeral, the continued replays of the death of Kennedy, the confirmation of a new president, the widow refusing to change her blood-soaked dress because she wanted the world to see her husband’s blood, to see what it had done. Through it all Dylan sat and watched and said little, just feeling the emotion of it. He drank a little wine, and played Berlioz’s Requiem over and over.”

“I didn’t feel it any more than anybody else,” Dylan said. “We were all sensitive to it. The assassination took more of the shape of a happening. I read about those things happening to Lincoln, to Garfield, and that it could happen in this day and age was not too far-fetched. It didn’t knock the wind out of me. Of course, I felt as rotten as everyone else. But if I was more sensitive about it than anyone else, I would have written a song about it, wouldn’t I? The whole thing about my reactions to the assassination is overplayed.”

 “Yet, despite Bob’s denial,” says Scaduto, “the murder did have an enormous effect on him. He signaled that feeling to very close friends, and a couple of weeks after Kennedy’s death, Dylan gave a disastrous speech that indicated how much the assassination had troubled him. He went to the grand ballroom of the Hotel Americana in New York to accept the Tom Paine Award of the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee for his work in the civil rights campaign.”

Dylan: “As soon as I get there I feel uptight. I began to drink. I looked down from the platform and saw a bunch of people who had nothing to do with my kind of politics. I looked down and I got scared. They were supposed to be on my side, but I didn’t feel any connection with them. Here were these people who had been all involved with the left in the Thirties, and now they were supporting civil rights drives. That’s groovy, but they were giving money out of guilt. I got up to leave and they followed me and caught me. They told me I had to accept the award. When I got up to make my speech I couldn’t say anything by that time but what was passing through my mind.”

As he put it that night, while reportedly quite drunk: “So, I accept this reward - not reward, (Laughter) award in behalf of Phillip Luce who led the group to Cuba which all people should go down to Cuba. I don't see why anybody can't go to Cuba. I don't see what's going to hurt by going any place. I don't know what's going to hurt anybody's eyes to see anything. On the other hand, Phillip is a friend of mine who went to Cuba.”

Dylan said: “I'll stand up and to get uncompromisable about it, which I have to be to be honest, I just got to be, as I got to admit that the man who shot President Kennedy, Lee Oswald, I don't know exactly where —what he thought he was doing, but I got to admit honestly that I too - I saw some of myself in him. I don't think it would have gone - I don't think it could go that far. But I got to stand up and say I saw things that he felt, in me - not to go that far and shoot. (Boos and hisses) You can boo but booing's got nothing to do with it. It's a - I just a - I've got to tell you, man, it's Bill of Rights is free speech and I just want to admit that I accept this Tom Paine Award in behalf of James Forman of the Students Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and on behalf of the people who went to Cuba.” (Boos and Applause).

From the toast of the town to being booed and shunned by liberals, Dylan decided to hit the road, literally, and drove cross country to perform few college dates and visit a few new places, including New Orleans French Quarter, Oswald’s old neighborhood, and Dealey Plaza in Dallas where Kennedy was killed.

When Dylan was looking for Dealey Plaza and the first few Dallas pedestrians couldn’t direct him to the spot, Dylan was perplexed, and then finally found a pedestrian who directed them to the site and said, “You mean where they killed that son-of-a-bitch?”

In Dallas, as did the Beatles and David Crosby, Dylan went to Dealey Plaza to see where President Kennedy was killed. The Beatles ducked in the back of their limo as they drove past the Texas School Book Depository Building and Grassy Knoll and then retired to their rooms at the Dallas Cabana Hotel, where some of the witnesses and suspects had famously stayed on the weekend of the assassination.

Bob Dylan was impressed by those young American students who went to Cuba to support the Cuban Revolution despite the legal restrictions imposed by the government making such travel illegal. Dylan met some of them at a New York apartment, introduced to them by his girlfriend Suzie Rotolo.

Among those who Dylan met was Corliss Lamont, leftist radical writer and author of a pamphlet “Crime Against Cuba” that was distributed by the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), copies of which were handed out by Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans in the summer of 1963.

It has been alleged that the specific copies in Oswald’s possession were numbered copies that were in a batch that, according to Lamont’s records, sold and sent to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The Warren Report says Oswald got Lamont’s pamphlet from the New York City office of the FPCC, which was then being targeted by the FBI and CIA, as were the students who attempted to break the travel to Cuba embargo.

When Castro visited New York, stayed at a Harlem hotel and addressed the United Nations, CIA-Cuban G-2 Double Agent LICOZY-3 was ostensibly recruited and identified only as an American student from Philadelphia who went to Mexico City, and was later terminated as an agent by Phil Agee while he was still a faithful CIA officer.

Fifteen years later, when investigators from the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) requested specific CIA files, they were given practically everything they asked for, except the names of the Double-agents in Mexico City. Based on public records and recently records released under the JFK Act, some researchers suspect LICOZY-3 to be Steve Kenin, an American student from Philadelphia who was in New York when Castro was there, went to Cuba, met and was photographed with Fidel Castro and went to Mexico City.

JFKcountercoup: The Man on the Motorcyle in Mexico City Revsited
Kenin and Castro in Cuba 

Kenin also knew Suzie Rotolo, Dylan’s girlfriend who had introduced Dylan to the pro-Castro Cuban crowd in New York City, as she attended the same upstate New York summer camp as Steve Kenin and his twin brother Elliot, both of whom were aspiring folk musicians. The Kenin brothers owned a music store just around the corner from Rittenhouse Square. 

Some other curious events stand out from the recently released records, including reports of Oswald’s sudden and inexplicable appearance handing out FPCC leaflets in Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square in the summer of 1963 when the Quebec to Guantamano March passed through.

The same marchers had previously marched from Quebec to Moscow in the name of peace and nuclear disarmament, and passed through Minsk when Oswald lived there, but it’s not known if they met. A few weeks later, when they got to Washington D.C., one of the marchers, amateur boxer Ray Robinson got into a fistfight inside a parked car with former CIA officer Wilcox, who testified before the HSCA that he handled a secret fund for Oswald when he was stationed in the Marines in Japan.

After passing through New York City, where they met with FPCC activists, the marchers arrived in Philadelphia where they had a rally at Rittenhouse Square when Oswald was reported to have handed out his leaflets, and just around the corner from where Steve and Elliot Kenin ran the Guitar Workshop.

Steve attended Temple University where one of his professors had relocated to Cuba to teach at Havana University during the revolution, after which he traveled to Cuba, met and had his picture taken with Castro, and wrote about his experiences for the Temple student newspaper.

Steve Kenin also edited the program for the first Philadelphia Folk Festival and did the same for the Newport Folk Festival the following year when Dylan famously performed. So Kenin knew Suzie Rotolo from summer camp, personally knew Dylan from Newport, and named his son Dylan.

Among the songs Dylan wrote around that time was,  “Goen’ to Acapulco.”

In 1963 Steve Kenin took off on his motorcycle to ride around Mexico and wrote an article about his adventures for Motorcycle Magazine and visited Acopolco and Mexico City where he reportedly met Lee Harvey Oswald. 

In Mexico City Steve Kenin stayed at a Quaker hostel “Cassa d’Amego,” which is owned and supported by Philadelphia Quakers, and he hung out at a Mexican restaurant near the American embassy that was popular with other Americans, including Oswald. According to a Mexican lawyer who was there, he last saw Kenin ride off on his motorcycle with Lee Oswald on the back, heading for the Cuban embassy to try to get visas to Cuba.

Oswald did go to the Cuban and Soviet Embassies in a failed attempt to get a visa to Cuba, and at the Cuban embassy he dealt with a Syliva Duran.

Shortly thereafter two other young Americans in Mexico City also contacted Sylvia Duran in an attempt to get visas to Cuba, and while there, reportedly attended a Twist Party at Duran’s apartment, a party also attended by Lee Harvey Oswald. This is the subject of a book, "A Cruel and Shocking Act" by Phil Shennon, who tries to use the Twist Party as a means of falsely linking Oswald and Castro, an active CIA disinformation campaign that continues today (via Shennon, Bob Baer, Gus Russo, Max Holland, et al). 

While Shennon didn't learn the identities of the two "gringos" who were also reportedly at the party and were scene with Oswald the next day, I did. 

Of the other two Americans, one was recognized as a movie actor Richard Beymer - the star of the then popular West Side Story, which includes the music of Leonard Bernstein, who was also profoundly impacted by JFK’s murder.

Beymer was accompanied by a friend, the owner of a Manhattan bar that featured live music who also knew Bob Dylan. Tracked down and questioned about the CIA records that mention him and the Twist Party, Beymer was quite surprised by the whole thing, not having been questioned by anyone before.

Yes, he went to Mexico City and Acapulco in 1963 with his friend, the owner of a Manhattan bar, and yes, they were young and footloose and fancy free and may have attended a Twist Party at a private apartment, but no, he didn’t remember Sylvia Duran or Lee Harvey Oswald. When the CIA's records of Cuban embassy phone intercepts were released under the JFK Act, one of them mentions that Beymer did call and asked specifically for Duran shortly after the assassination, and asked if she was all right, apparently aware she was violently interrogated by the Mexican police. Beymer apparently knew Duran much better than he let on to me. 

Beymer's friend, Bradley Pierce, owned a Manhattan bar, where Dylan and Ochs and other musicians socialized. Pierce became a Catholic priest, Father Brad, and recalled to me, shortly before he died, that they were in Mexico on November 22, 1963 when the assassination occurred, and since they were only there for a few weeks they couldn’t have been in Mexico in late September and early October when Oswald was there. 

As for Steve Kenin, he doesn't remember Oswald or giving him a ride to the Cuban Embassy on his motorcycle, though he did try to get a visa to go back to Cuba, but had probably left Mexico before Oswald arrived.

He is a bit perplexed however, by what the CIA records say about him and the accounts of witnesses implicate him with Oswald and Castro, as well as the photo of him and Castro together that was published in his college paper. It makes one wonder what would have happened if the story came out shortly after the assassination, even if it wasn’t true, that Kenin had given Oswald a ride to the Cuban Embassy and then the photo of him and Castro further connected Oswald and Castro?

Could that have been a psyops ploy to link Oswald, Kenin and Castro, and what would it mean? I still don’t know what it all means.

I think that the US government intelligence community - there are 17 federal intelligence agencies, targeted politically leaning folk singers, song writer and musicians like Dylan, Ochs and John Lennon, as they were considered a threat to our national security, especially with the massive protests that they inspired and participated in against the Vietnam War and for Civil Rights.

And Dylan’s new song only brings these issues back to the table, where we have to digest and decipher them, at a time of national calamity.

I still don’t know what it all means, but am trying to figure it out.

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Lyrics to Dylan's "Murder Most Foul"

[Verse 1]

It was a dark day in Dallas, November '63
A day that will live on in infamy
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
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
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
The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing
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
Wolfman, oh Wolfman, oh Wolfman, howl
Rub-a-dub-dub, it's a murder most foul

[Verse 2]

Hush, little children, you'll understand
The Beatles are comin', they're gonna hold your hand
Slide down the banister, go get your coat
Ferry 'cross the Mersey and go for the throat
There's three bums comin' all dressed in rags
Pick up the pieces and lower the flags
I'm goin' to Woodstock, it's the Aquarian Age
Then I'll go over to Altamont and sit near the stage
Put your head out the window, let the good times roll
There's a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll
Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don't say Dallas don't love you, Mr. President
Put your foot in the tank and then step on the gas
Try to make it to the triple underpass
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
Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
When you're down on Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe
Don't ask what your country can do for you
Cash on the barrelhead, money to burn
Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn
I'm going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride
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
What is the truth, and where did it go
Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know
"Shut your mouth," said a wise old owl
Business is business, and it's a murder most foul

[Verse 3]

Tommy, can you hear me? I'm the Acid Queen
I'm riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine
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
They mutilated his body and they took out his brain
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
Wake up, little Susie, let's go for a drive
Cross the Trinity River, let's keep hope alive
Turn the radio on, don't touch the dials
Parkland Hospital, only six more miles
You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
I'm just a patsy like Patsy Cline
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
Zapruder's film I seen night before
Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more
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
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
Johnson sworn in at 2:38
Let me know when you decide to throw in the towel
It is what it is, and it's murder most foul

[Verse 4]

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
Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack
Play it for me in my long Cadillac
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
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
Guitar Slim going down slow
Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe

[Verse 5]

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
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
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"

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Dylan's "Murder Most Foul" Assorted Commentary


The release of Bob Dylan's new song "Murder Most Foul" at this point in time - in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic gives reporters, media people and writers something different to discuss other than the virus, disease, death and the complete shutdown of most major social institutions.

While most of the commentary is not worth repeating, a few stand out so I will quote some of them.

For starters, the title originates from Shakespier’s Hamlet (I.v. 27-28) in which the Ghost comments: “Murder most foul as in the best it is/ But most foul, strange and unnatural.”

Though I also think that Dylan was probably also influenced by Stanley J. Mark‘s $1.95 pamphlet “Murder Most Foul” – subtitled – “The Conspiracy That Murdered President Kennedy – 975 Questions and Answers.” Stanley Mark was a Jewish academic who also ranted in pamphlets about Catholics.

The video of Dylan’s reciting of the lyrics with soft piano accompaniment has been heard by almost 2 million listeners in two days, and is the subject of numerous articles and media reports,  most of the commentary is not worth repeating, a few stand out so I will quote them.

"Only a man who once lived by the dictum 'Don't Look Back' could look back with such somber clarity." 
- Alex Wilson

This song seems to have been written at the time of the 50th anniversary as it mentions the search for the soul of JFK had been going for 50 years. Seven years ago. That's a long time sitting on a song with this kind of impact.  Not many people can weave the paint from a black and white palette and not end up with a dull grey canvas.

And black and white it is. An old movie reel. With the fog rolling in, we see the Beatles rolling out of the Cavern, suddenly ducking as they rock down Elm St. And was that the Acid Queen they passed as she morphs into JFK falling into Jackie's lap?

Suddenly we are in a kaleidoscope of cultural references intersecting at odd angles... Dylan the  prize-fighter using the broken rhythm method so no one knows when the next blow is coming or where it is coming from.
In the end, it can be recognized as just the ordinary flow of history put in its proper poetic context.

And the takeout is unequivocal. A domestic plot and a patsy flicking the switch on the tracks with barely a blip in the continuum. After all, who has to time to recognize fleeting ghosts from parallel realities on a runaway mystery train?

Unsentimental, yet drawing tears. Unrelenting, yet you want it to go on.
Proof of the pen and the synapses between it and the ciphering Muse.  Dylan as Alan Turing. 

Ben Wecht:  Thanks for sharing, William Kelly! I finally took the time to give it a listen, and the first thing I have to say is that despite its melodic weakness, I find it hauntingly beautiful. The piano, the violin, the lyrics. Tear-inducing, to be honest. Beyond that, I find the abundance of cultural references reminiscent of The Wasteland, which speaks to the splintering of meaning and experience in modern times. Finally, it's good to see/hear a great mind report on this "murder most foul" accurately -- "*they* blew off his head," "*We're* gonna kill you," "*We'll* mock you," etc. etc. Bobby D ain't no fool for these coincidence theorists still spouting bullshit all these decades later! THANK YOU, Mr. Dylan! THANK YOU!

David Talbot: Bob Dylan, whose newly released bombshell of a song "Murder Most Foul" blows away the stone from JFK's tomb, is belatedly following a long line of artists and dignitaries who denounced the Kennedy assassination as a conspiracy and cover-up. In fact, back in 1966 an independent New York researcher named Charles Stanton took it upon himself to distribute a questionnaire about the Warren Report, the official inquiry that blamed the assassination on the conveniently dead "lone gunman" Lee Harvey Oswald (who went to his grave shouting he was a "patsy," as Dylan observes in his song). Among the prominent respondents to the Stanton questionnaire who rejected the Warren Report and asserted Kennedy was the victim of a plot were: poets Allen Ginsberg (pictured here with Dylan) and Kenneth Rexroth; writers Ray Bradbury, Paddy Chayevsky, Katherine Anne Porter and Terry Southern ("Dr. Strangelove"); British intellectuals Bertrand Russell, Arnold Toynbee and Hugh Trevor Roper; and the famed "Kon Tiki" explorer Thor Heyerdahl.

In addition, musician David Crosby famously introduced the Byrds' tribute to JFK, "He Was a Friend of Mine," onstage at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival by telling the crowd (to his bandmates' great unease): "President Kennedy wasn't killed by one man -- he was shot from several directions. The truth has been suppressed. You should know that. This is your country."

And comedians Dick Gregory (pictured here) and Mort Sahl mounted crusades against the Kennedy conspiracy, which led to blacklists and damage to their show business careers.

The scorn about the official story was also widely shared by world leaders like French President Charles de Gaulle (pictured below), who told an aide after returning from Kennedy's funeral that pinning the crime on the dead Oswald was "baloney!"

De Gaulle -- who himself was the target of multiple assassination attempts by far-right, militarist plotters -- enjoyed a more loyal security force than Kennedy did and was very informed about the dark labyrinth of intelligence agencies. The French president confided at length about Dallas to his aide, telling him:
"Security forces all over the world are the same when they do this kind of dirty work. As soon as they succeed in wiping out the false assassin, they declare that the justice system no longer need be concerned, that no further public action was needed now that the guilty perpetrator was dead. Better to kill an innocent man (Oswald) than to let a civil war break out. Better an injustice than disorder."

The savvy de Gaulle rightly predicted how the American establishment, including the mainstream media, would close ranks behind the official cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. "They don't want to know. They don't want to find out. They won't allow themselves to find out."

Some in Washington did immediately figure out JFK was killed by a conspiracy and astonishingly they privately communicated this explosive information to our Cold War "enemies" in the Kremlin -- namely the murdered president's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and JFK's widow, Jacqueline Kennedy.
Despite all this truth-telling at high levels, the corporate media STILL has its head in the sand about Dallas.
PS One of the prominent respondents to the 1966 Stanton questionnaire who did strongly support the Warren Report was Allen Dulles, the CIA spymaster who had been fired by President Kennedy. Dulles was not only the main architect of the crime, but as a leading member of the Warren Commission, also the cover-up.

Read more about all of this in my books "The Devil's Chessboard" and "Brothers."

And David's latest: “Between Heaven and Hell.”

Will Ruha:  David, Please! Let us put this in its proper historical context. Two weeks after JFK was killed, Bob Dylan stated to the assembled NY crowd that was awarding him the Thomas Paine Award that he could identify with the President's killer. "I don't think it would go that far, but I got to stand up and say I saw things that he felt, in me.” For his statement of accordance with the president’s killer, he was roundly booed and hissed, and received notable denunciation, and finally had to issue a rambling, almost inchoate response, albeit, notably, a refusal to apologize. That's how much animosity Dylan had for John F. Kennedy. He never did apologize for that horrific, shocking, untimely, outrageous insult to our collective injury. Now, more than a half-century later, he seeks to capitalize on JFK's assassination with this song that is, in truth, like Dylan himself, pretentious, overblown, rather banal, poorly written with its spate of name-dropping cultural references that amounts to nothing more than inflated overrated ego. An example: “. . . I’m a patsy, like Patsy Cline . . .” Please! What absolute RUBBISH!

I'm from Northern Minnesota and know ALL about Bobby Zimmerman, an egregious poseur with his adenoidal drone of a voice, pretentious attitude, publicity ploys, acute arrogance, and at times, profane rants against those who dared criticize him......

In a 2012 interview, some 47 years after being booed for using an electric guitar, Bob “Dylan” went postal over a New York Times article published some six years earlier that pointed out that he had lifted, without attribution numerous lines of verse from Civil War poet Henry Timrod, in writing lyrics for his album “Modern Times.” Critics noted how his album “contains at least ten instances of lines or phrases culled from seven different Timrod poems, mostly poems about love, friendship, death, and poetry. .... This was too much for “Dylan” who had risen to fame on the widely-circulated (Newsweek Magazine article) rumor that he had never actually written “Blowin’ in the Wind,” but lifted it (for a price) from a New Jersey high school singer-songwriter..... [BK Notes: This was proven to be untrue]

Then, still stinging from rebuke given some 41 years before even this criticism, “Dylan” went ballistic: “These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me. Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you've been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified..."

Robert “Dylan” Zimmerman., I suspect, was, like the Beatles, a product of, or promoted by, the Deep State as a means of socially engineering America’s Baby Boomer generation, most notably in the direct wake of JFK’s assassination. Quite notably, while Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Barry McGuire all vociferously protested the Vietnam War musically and in marches and public performances, Bob “Dylan” remained notably silent, even reclusive, never authoring so much as a line of anti-war protest. In fact, asked about this, he sneered and replied, “I don’t write protest songs.” He lied. Around 1961 or so, he wrote “Masters of War,” a criticism of what Ike had just termed, the “Military-Industrial Complex.” But that was it. When LBJ and his CIA-induced Gulf of Tonkin ruse plunged us into the Vietnam War, Dylan went silent.

I do consider him, for the most part, a decent songwriter, albeit nowhere worthy of the Nobel Prize for Literature conferred upon him, doubtless for his covert service to the Deep State. For example, have you ever read his execrable book, “Tarantula,” a claptrap pastiche of ignominious doggerel that, by his own later admission, he was embarrassed to lay claim to. But beyond being a notable songwriter, his modest talents pretty much end. And his vaunted ego and vile mouth are a real turn-off. So, no, I am not particularly pleased with Bob “Dylan.”

Bill Kelly: My response to Will Ruha is the following: After we are all dead and gone, Bob Dylan will be remembered in the same vein as Walt Whitman and Robert Frost – America’s most engaging poets that transend time, and no one will remember Will Ruha ever lived. Ruha reminds me somewhat of A. J. Weberman, a “Dylanologist” and former neighbor who went so far as to root through Dylan’s trash, a standard Counter-Intelligence procedure, and has written about Dylan for years.

Weberman with Mike Canfield also wrote “Coup d’etat In America,” the galley proofs that I read, that they sent to my friend John Judge, were inspirational as to how to approach the assassination – as a Coup. And Weberman has continued to pursue the JFK coup angle in academic papers he has posted on line that I think are very informative. 

Here's a link to Jim DiEugenio's anallysis of Dylan's song: 

Kennedys And King - The Dylan/Kennedy Sensation

Here's David Talbot's take on the new song by Dylan:

‘Murder Most Foul’: Unpacking Bob Dylan’s new epic — from Dallas 1963 to the pandemic of 2020 – Alternet.org

More on Dylan and JFK on the Way. Stay Tuned.

If you can please support JFKCountercoup - and many thanks to those who have. It keeps me going.