Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter died in his sleep on Easter Sunday, nearly 30 years after he was freed from prison.
Carter was incarcerated for 19 years for a murder he didn’t commit, after being convicted by an all-white jury based on the testimony of two criminals who later recanted.
Carter’s story was dramatized in the 1999 film Hurricane, starring Denzel Washington, and more memorably in Bob Dylan’s 1975 song of the same name, the opening track on Desire.
When I recently counted down my list of favorite 70s albums, Blood on the Tracks was the only Bob Dylan album to make the cut. I considered adding The Basement Tapes and especially Desire to that list but ultimately decided to make room for other artists.
Listening to ‘Black Diamond Bay,’ today’s Random Weekend selection, I find myself rethinking that decision. Desire is a fabulous collection, as lyrically rich and sonically beautiful as anything Dylan has recorded.
Desire is packed with great songs, including epic true stories of boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and gangster Joey Gallo (in the songs ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Joey,’ respectively).
I will always associate ‘Hurricane’ with the fabulous scene from Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused in which Wooderson and company enter The Emporium in slow-mo as Dylan’s song plays. If you haven’t seen Dazed and Confused, shut down your computer and make it happen right away. One of my favorite movies of all-time; a true American classic.
I’ve referenced my Dylan Six — the six albums I consider his unqualified masterpieces — many times over the past few months. And I’ve named five of them already: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Bringing it all Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and Blood On the Tracks.
1976’s Desire is not the sixth. But I adore this album and I’m tempted to expand that list to a Dylan Seven just to sneak it in there. It’s one of the most musically adventurous and lyrically compelling releases of Dylan’s career and contains a few songs I count among my very favorites.