BOB DYLAN & GEORGE JACKSON

Bob Dylan & George Jackson

 

George Jackson single.

George Jackson single.

I was 14 when I first heard Bob Dylan. The album was The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, and one of the elements that attracted me to his music, was the unsentimental humanity in his voice, delivery and words. It is still there and I still appreciate it.

Like every teenage boy, I was desperate to be taken seriously and respected, so the effect of hearing that strange voice singing “how many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?” was startling. There was no prettiness, no embellishment or artifice – just the bare, brave sound of a young man vocalising thoughts that I felt too.

Some of the songs were angry, some were sad and others were really funny. I remember laughing out loud when I heard the “make love to Elizabeth Taylor…catch hell from Richard Burton” line.

I liked Oxford Town as well, but thought it was odd somehow. I imagine that I was responding to the contrast between the darkness of the subject matter and the chirpy tune, but didn’t know it. It is a comedian’s sharpest weapon – making us laugh at some awful truth and allowing us to recognise the absurdity of it.

The song led me to question my English teacher about its meaning – how white students had prevented a young black man, James Meredith, from attending classes at a university. The altercation escalated into riots, in which two people lost their lives.

James Meredith, getting an education in Mississippi.

James Meredith, getting an education in Mississippi.

It resonated with me at the time, as I had recently moved to Australia and had started a new school. I was not treated the way James Meredith had been. In fact, the first boy who befriended me was called Valentino Fernandez, and he was African-Australian.

At 18, I was living in Spain. I bought a cassette called ‘Bob Dylan – Blowing in the Wind’ that listed several songs I’d never heard. The cover was awful and it was as hissy as a snake pit but it had a song that really affected me – The Death of Emmett Till.

At the time, I didn’t know who Emmett Till was. In fact, I thought it was just a story, invented for effect. I couldn’t believe it when I discovered it was true, that two men tortured and killed a young boy – essentially because he was black.

Emmett Till, a 14 year-old boy from Chicago, Illinois, who was visiting relatives in Mississippi, was murdered after allegedly flirting with a white woman. He apparently offended 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married owner of a grocery store, and wolf-whistled at her while showing off in front of his friends.

Emmett Till, photographed shortly before his kidnapping, torture and murder.

Emmett Till, photographed shortly before his kidnapping, torture and murder.

Several nights later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother, J. W. Milam, took Emmett Till to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River.

Bryant and Milam were found ‘not guilty’ of Till’s murder, but in a magazine interview, only a few weeks later, and protected against double jeopardy, they admitted to killing him. [1]

Bryant and Milam at their trial for the murder of Emmett Till.

Bryant and Milam at their trial for the murder of Emmett Till.

The killing of a young boy in such a way, the trial and verdict that resulted, caused worldwide outrage, and was at the forefront of Rosa Parks’ mind when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.

Myrlie Evers:

Somehow [Till’s death and trial] struck a spark of indignation that ignited protests around the world… It was the murder of this 14-year-old out-of-state visitor that touched off a world-wide clamor and cast the glare of a world spotlight on Mississippi’s racism.”

It isn’t a great song, lyrically or musically, but stands as an early attempt by a young writer to express his disgust in traditional ‘folk’ song form.

While Dylan was originally attracted to the sound of Elvis, Buddy Holly and Rock n Roll, he later became fascinated by old Blues, Country and Folk songs, particularly those by Woody Guthrie – “I was like a Woody Guthrie jukebox!”– but found inspiration in many places.

When he played The Death of Emmett Till on Cynthia Gooding’s radio show, ‘Folksinger’s Choice’, in early 1962, he said that the melody was based on chords he had heard from folk musician Len Chandler.

If Dylan was learning his craft with songs like The Death of Emmett Till, the evolution from student to master was fast and remarkable.

Only A Pawn In Their Game takes the death of civil rights activist, Medgar Evers, as the basis for a comment on political manipulation generally, and specifically in this case, of poor whites by racists disguised as ‘people’s’ politicians.

 

A South politician preaches to the poor white man,

“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain.

You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.

And the Negro’s name

Is used it is plain

For the politician’s gain

As he rises to fame

And the poor white remains

On the caboose of the train

But it ain’t him to blame

He’s only a pawn in their game.

 

On August 28, 1963, Dylan sang Only A Pawn In Their Game at the Lincoln Memorial, during the climax of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”, in front of the largely black audience, which included Medgar Ever’s widow, Myrlie. It was a brave choice, given that it asks the listener to look on Evers’ killer with a degree of sympathy and search Southern political corridors for the real culprits.

At the Lincoln Memorial, 28th August, 1963.

At the Lincoln Memorial, 28th August, 1963.

On the same day, in Hagerstown, Maryland, William Zantzinger was given a six month sentence for killing Hattie Carroll.

Dylan has said that Woody Guthrie’s songs “…were really beyond category. They had the infinite sweep of humanity in them”[2] and Dylan began to regularly create songs with the same infinite sweep of vision, and with the same humanity central to them.

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” was written around the death of a 51 year-old black Maryland lady at the hands of a drunken white racist.

From the Baltimore Afro American.

From the Baltimore Afro American.

According to witnesses, Zantzinger demanded a drink from Mrs Carroll, who was busy serving another customer. She asked him if he would mind waiting for a moment.

According to court testimony, he replied: ‘Nigger, did you hear me ask for a drink? I don’t have to take that kind of shit off a nigger.’

He then used the cane he was carrying and struck her on the right shoulder: “It was a hard blow. So hard that I couldn’t understand how she could stand up.” [3]

At 9 a.m. on February 9, 1963, and as a result of the assault, Hattie Carroll collapsed and died of a stroke in Mercy Hospital.

William Zantzinger, who had 24 years, was charged with homicide – but the charge was reduced to manslaughter.  He served six months in jail and was fined $625. [4]

William Zantzinger.

William Zantzinger.

Dylan’s ballad, based on newspaper reports of the time, is never going to win an award for factual accuracy in relation to the actual case (“I used it. I used it to say something that I wanted to say. I used a true story, that’s all…I could have used another story…” [6]) but, like many of Dylan’s songs, it works on a whole other level.

The language, rhymes, melody and delivery of the recorded song (on The Times They Are A-Changin’ from 1964) are still hugely impressive fifty years later.

The differences between the two central characters – economically, politically and socially – are illustrated with great poetic flair, from the cane ‘that he twirled around his diamond ring finger’ to the maid ‘who carried the dishes and took out the garbage and never sat once at the head of the table’.

The violent act ‘that sailed through the air and came down through the room, doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle’ is followed by the very unpoetic and very human line:

And she never done nothing to William Zanzinger.

Dylan’s use of ‘street’ language for that line is perfect. The savage, needlessness of the violence is so great, the only response possible is an instinctive, primal outrage – nothing fancy, no artifice, nothing but the truth.

The tension created by the repetition of metre, build-up of lines, the monotony of the guitar and deadpan voice is brilliantly dramatic and, for me, mirrors the lengthy legal process and long, nervous wait for the verdict. I am sat in the courtroom, waiting…

 

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

and the final line, the verdict, is delivered with a pause, a break in the cadence:

six-month sentence…

 

It is a masterpiece, a truly fantastic piece of song-writing. The words themselves are good enough, but the stark, deadpan delivery is a huge part of the songs power.

Though based upon the story of Hattie Carroll’s death, the song comments on the seemingly universal and arbitrary cruelty of our species against its own kind, the inequality of the justice system and society in general.

Although the album version will always be considered the definitive version, I was lucky enough to see him perform it in 2005 and was incredibly moved by his detailed and tender delivery, and the band’s musical treatment. It was clear that the song meant an awful lot to him, and I was transfixed.

"I think we all like motorcycles to some degree" - Bob Dylan's Triumph.

“I think we all like motorcycles to some degree” – Bob Dylan’s Triumph.

On July 29th, 1966, Dylan, blinded by the sun, fell off his Triumph T100 motorcycle.

“I had been in a motorcycle accident and I’d been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race. Having children changed my life and segregated me from just about everybody and everything that was going on. Outside of my family, nothing held any real interest for me and I was seeing everything through different glasses.”

Rumours started immediately – he was dead, horribly disfigured, brain-damaged, a junkie, in rehab, retired…and groups of people actually felt he had abandoned something, or even them! He had crowds outside his house, demanding he return to whatever they felt he had left, or provide some comment on political issues that were fashionable at the time. There was even a Dylan Liberation Front and people studying his trash.

In reality, he provided for and raised his family, didn’t feel inclined to tour and carried on making music.

He recorded (what became known as) The Basement Tapes, John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning. He compiled Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume Two, recorded a handful of songs that had become hits for other people with Happy Traum, ‘guested’ on recordings by Allen Ginsberg, David Bromberg, Roger McGuinn, Earl Scruggs, Steve Goodman, Barry Goldberg, Booker T and Doug Sahm. He appeared at The Concert for Bangladesh, at a memorial concert for Woody Guthrie, appeared onstage with The Band and played harmonica for John Prine at his old haunt, The Bitter End.

The music was different, but that’s natural for a musician and songwriter – you can’t write the same song over and over again if you have a creative spirit – but the humanity and belief in freedom and equality as an ideal was still in the man.

Some of the many faces of Bob Dylan.

Some of the many faces of Bob Dylan.

On 4th November 1971, Dylan walked into Columbia Studio B in New York and recorded a song about the killing of imprisoned Black Panther, George Jackson.

Jackson wrote ‘Soledad Brother’ and ‘Blood In My Eye’ about his experiences with racism inside and outside of prison. The book affected Dylan, along with many others who read it.

Chicago-born Jackson was the same age as Dylan, when, in 1960, he was arrested for driving a getaway car for a friend who robbed a gas station. They stole $71. Though charged only with 2nd Degree Robbery, and with evidence of his innocence, he was persuaded to plead guilty by his court-appointed lawyer. He was given a one year to life sentence.  Even though Jackson had been in regular trouble as a juvenile, the sentence was beyond harsh.

George Jackson.

George Jackson.

Jackson stayed in San Quentin prison until 1969 for the offence, when he was moved to Soledad, where he joined the emerging Black Panther party.

It is now well documented that the FBI targeted the Black Panther Party, under the umbrella operation COINTELPRO, and it seems extremely likely that Jackson was assassinated.

In a 1969 memo FBI boss Hoover wrote: “(The) purpose of counterintelligence action is to disrupt the Black Panther Party and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge.”

George Jackson (along with Fleeta Drumgo and John Cluchette) was accused of murdering a prison guard and moved back to San Quentin to await trial for the guard’s murder. Two days before it was due to start Jackson was shot dead during an alleged escape

George Jackson's funeral.

George Jackson’s funeral.

attempt.

Bob Dylan released George Jackson on November 12, 1971[7], just two months after the death of the writer and activist.

The song was recorded quickly, first with backing from Kenneth Buttrey (drums), Ben Keith (steel guitar), Leon Russell (bass), Jo Armstead and Rosie Hicks (background vocals) – and then solo, with just his voice, guitar and harmonica.

The band version is a strange affair. It rattles along loosely, like a weekend country hoe-down, with a snare and tambourine beat, happy-folky harp, loping bass, Ben Keith’s steely sweeps and a female gospel-style chorus. It’s a very odd mix and quite at odds with the subject matter. There is a little piano passage in the middle of it, too, that sounds like Dylan’s style, but is un-credited.

The solo acoustic version is much shorter and works better, with the emphasis more on the words, and the nuances in Dylan’s vocal. There are some minor passing chords too, which add a darker feel.

bd_george_kackson_2

I have read suggestions that Dylan recorded and released the song as a response to supposed pressure for him to ‘return to the fight’ or be ‘political’ in some way. Given the amount of time and effort Dylan put in to getting away from people’s expectations of him, it seems ludicrous that he wrote, recorded and released the song in response to the desires of certain ‘fans’. Also, he had written songs of injustice once or twice before. It was simply Bob Dylan being himself. He just felt like doing it.

There is a recording of John Lennon playing the chorus of the song and saying, “I think it’s great!” and the acoustic version was released on Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1967-1974 (Light In The Attic LITA 081) in 2012. The press release says: “ …a cross-cultural overview that sees Bob Dylan’s out of print 1971 single “George Jackson” reissued for the first time” and ” not only brings together Dylan and Lennon on the same compilation for the first time (via John & Yoko’s 1972 song about Angela Davis), but presents the diversity of the Black Power Movement like never before.”

The song is a simple expression of his emotional reaction to Jackson’s death, with a little biography and eulogy, but it does have, like Dylan’s best songs, more to it than first meets the eye.

The last verse has the lines:

Sometimes I think this whole world

Is one big prison yard

Some of us are prisoners

The rest of us are guards…

 

Dylan’s famous duality – and his humanity – is on show again. He may be on Jackson’s ‘side’, intellectually and emotionally, but he recognises that the reasons Jackson was killed, are not so simple. It takes more than a bullet to kill a man.

It takes a whole society, with an ulterior motive, to lock up a man for life for a “70 dollar robbery” and shoot him in the head.  As George Jackson was not remotely ‘political’ prior to being imprisoned (and therefore not, as the FBI claimed, a ‘threat to National Security’), had no previous convictions as an adult, society’s motive could only have been racism.

There is a long tradition of singers telling stories of injustice, but what make Dylan’s songs stand out for me, are their impressive lyricism, vocal delivery, varied musical styles – and the human-ness he expresses. I always feel a human heart beating through his songs. They are never one-dimensional, finger-pointing songs either, but have the beauty and darkness of the whole human experience woven into them.

While his focus may be on inequality, racial or otherwise, his songs are never black and white.  For him, culpability can rest with all of mankind, not merely the individuals concerned.

At 72 years old, Bob Dylan keeps on writing and performing his songs, and, thankfully, shows no signs of stopping.  

tumblr_m387nbIPaR1qlxkl2o1_1335680964_cover

*****

Ballad Of A Black Panther

There’s a passage in Bobby Seale’s book, Seize the Time, where he describes Huey Newton “breaking down” the lyrics of “Ballad of a Thin Man” to a roomful of Black Panthers. He was explaining how to understand the radicalization and anti-racism of young white revolutionaries.

You hand in your ticket /And you go watch the geek

He had used the same lyrics to explain capitalism and racism as systems of oppression to Seale in 1966.

A geek is usually a circus performer. Maybe he was an experienced trapeze artist who was injured. He’s been in the circus all his life and he knows nothing else but circus work. But he can’t be a trapeze artist anymore because he’s been injured very badly, but he still needs to live, he needs to exist, he needs pay. So the circus feels very sorry for him and they give him a job. They give him the cruddiest kind of job because he’s not really good for anything else. They put him into a cage, then people pay a quarter to come in to see him. They put live chickens into the cage and the geek eats the chickens up while they’re still alive . . . the bones, the feathers, all. And of course he has a salary, because the audience pays a quarter to see him. He does this because he has to. He doesn’t like eating raw meat, or feathers, but he does it to survive. But these people who are coming in to see him are coming in for entertainment, so they are the real freaks. And the geek knows this, so during his performance, he eats the raw chicken and he hands one of the members of the audience a bone, because he realizes that they are the real freaks because they get enjoyment by watching what he’s doing because he has to. So that’s what a geek and a freak is. Is that clear?

What Dylan is putting across is middle-class people or upper-class people who sometimes take a Sunday afternoon off and put their whole family into limousine, and they go down to the black ghettoes to watch the prostitutes and watch the decaying community. They do this for pleasure, or for Sunday afternoon entertainment. Of course the people are there and they don’t want to be there. The prostitutes are there because they’re trying to live, trying to exist, and they need money. So then that makes the middle-class and upper-class people, who are down there because they get pleasure out of it, freaks.” – Huey P Newton, 1966.

Huey P Newton and Highway 61 Revisited.

Huey P Newton and Highway 61 Revisited.

When Newton and Seale were preparing the first edition of the BP newspaper in 1966, they listened obsessively to “brother Bobby” Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, especially Ballad of a Thin Man, as a parable of racist oppression. [10]

“Close examination of the way Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man,” was listened to, understood, and used by the founders of the Black Panther Party provides …a specific instance where we can actually see how a popular song allowed one group of people to understand their world and try to change it.” [8]

“We all loved Bob Dylan. Anyone who writes Blowin’ in the Wind gets a free pass to heaven. We didn’t require Bob Dylan to be a revolutionary.” – Angela Brown, intimate friend and eventual successor to Huey P Newton. [9]

“. . . the United States burned and destroyed itself for the sake of slavery. The USA wouldn’t give it up. It had to be grinded out. The whole system had to be ripped out with force. A lot of killing…A lot of destruction to end slavery.

This country is just too fucked up about color. It’s a distraction. People at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color. It’s the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back – or any neighborhood back. Or any anything back. Blacks know that some whites didn’t want to give up slavery – that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can’t pretend they don’t know that.

It’s doubtful that America’s ever going to get rid of that stigmatization. It’s a country founded on the backs of slaves. You know what I mean? Because it goes way back. It’s the root cause. If slavery had been given up in a more peaceful way, America would be far ahead today.” – Bob Dylan, Rolling Stone, 2013.

 “…these innocent people (whites)…are still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men…the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of their identity.” – James Baldwin.

See them big plantations burning

Hear the cracking of the whips

Smell that sweet magnolia blooming

See the ghosts of slavery ships

I can hear them tribes a-moaning

(I can) hear the undertaker’s bell

(Yeah), nobody can sing the blues

Like Blind Willie McTell.

 

Notes on George Jackson’s death

They will never count me among the broken men.” – George Jackson

 GJ

In his autobiography ‘Revolutionary Suicide’, Newton claimed that Jackson was “attempting to save [fellow inmates] from being massacred by guards” when he was shot and James Baldwin wrote: “No Black person will ever believe that George Jackson died the way they tell us he did.”

The truth of how Mr Jackson died is still a matter of dispute, but there are very strong indicators that point to it being more than a prison riot gone wrong.

At the time of George Jackson’s death, the Black Panther Party were definitely under close investigation by the FBI. Jackson’s FBI file number was 44-HQ-47984 and his file is now (partially) in the public domain, through the FBI’s own online records vault.

The Federal program of investigation and surveillance, called COINTELPRO, was kept secret until 1971, when the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI burgled an FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania. They took several files, and passed them on to news agencies.

A major investigation was launched in 1976 by the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities of the United States Senate. In the Final Report of the Select Committee, COINTELPRO was heavily criticized:

“The Committee finds that the domestic activities of the intelligence community at times violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens…Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that…the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”

“In order to eliminate black militant leaders whom they considered dangerous, the FBI conspired with local police departments to target specific individuals, accuse them of crimes they did not commit, suppress exculpatory evidence and falsely incarcerate them. One Black Panther Party leader was incarcerated for 27 years before a California Superior Court vacated his murder conviction, ultimately freeing him. Appearing before the court, an FBI agent testified that he believed Pratt had been framed because both the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department knew he had been out of the area at the time the murder occurred.”

In a 1969 memo FBI boss Hoover wrote: “(The) purpose of counterintelligence action is to disrupt the Black Panther Party and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge.”

The accusation (that is still perpetrated on the internet) that George Jackson was a thug who appropriated revolutionary rhetoric as a fig-leaf for his criminal activity is erroneous.

Although Mr Jackson served time in the California Youth Authority Corrections facility in Paso Robles because of several juvenile convictions, he only became ‘politicised’ and joined the Black Panther Party after having been imprisoned for some time.

 

TIMES jpeg

 

Notes on William Zantzinger

William Devereux Zantzinger was born on February 7th 1939, the son of a real estate developer and farmer.

Zantzinger threatened to sue Dylan and CBS, presumably over his depiction in the song, but never did:

“We were gonna sue him big time. Scared that boy good! The song was a lie. Just a damned lie.”

In November 1991, Zantzinger pleaded guilty to 50 misdemeanour counts of unfair and deceptive trade practices (he collected more than $64,000 in rent on properties he had not owned for more than five years) and was sentenced to 18 months in the county jail and fined $50,000.

The judge also sentenced Zantzinger to 2,400 hours of community service and directed him to help groups that advocate low-cost housing.

At the time of sentencing, he said: “I never intended to hurt anyone, ever, ever. It’s not my nature.”

In 2001, he once again dismissed The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll as a “total lie” and claimed “It’s actually had no effect upon my life,” but expressed scorn for Dylan:

“He’s a no-account son of a bitch, he’s just like a scum bag of the earth, and I should have sued him and put him in jail.”

William Zantzinger died on January 3rd, 2009 aged 69.

Notes on the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till.

 

Well, what else could we do? He was hopeless. I’m no bully; I never hurt a nigger in my life. I like niggers—in their place—I know how to work ’em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anything about it, niggers are gonna stay in their place. Niggers ain’t gonna vote where I live. If they did, they’d control the government. They ain’t gonna go to school with my kids. And when a nigger gets close to mentioning sex with a white woman, he’s tired o’ livin’. I’m likely to kill him. Me and my folks fought for this country, and we got some rights. I stood there in that shed and listened to that nigger throw that poison at me, and I just made up my mind. ‘Chicago boy,’ I said, ‘I’m tired of ’em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. Goddam you, I’m going to make an example of you—just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.” – J. W. Milam, speaking to Look magazine, in January 1956 by William Bradford Huie.

J.W. Milam died in 1980, at the age of 61.

In 1994, at the age of 63, Mr Bryant died.

On May 10th, 2004, the US Justice Department reopened the investigation into the murder of Emmett Till.

On June 1st 2004, Emmett Till’s body was exhumed, DNA taken and a bullet removed.

On May 17th 2005, Jackson FBI Agent, Robert J Garrity Jr, reported that the original court transcripts from the murder had been found.

On September 4th 2005, the US Senate passed a Bill allowing a Federal Unit to reinvestigate old civil rights cases – and to bring indictments and prosecutions.

Lil Wayne’s lyric “beat that pussy up like Emmett Till” appeared on the remix to rapper Future’s 2013 single “Karate Chop”.

 

The conviction of Byron De La Beckwith for Medgar Ever’s murder

Medgar Evers. Served his country in WWII.

Medgar Evers. Served his country in WWII.

On June 21, 1963, Byron De La Beckwith, was arrested for Medgar Evers’ murder. Two juries, composed solely of white men, failed to convict him.

He remained a free man for 30 years.

In 1994, De La Beckwith was brought to trial based on new evidence.

He was convicted of murder on February 5, 1994.

He appealed unsuccessfully, and died at age 80 in prison, in January 2001.

On May 17th 2003, Bob Dylan was playing the Jubilee! JAM Festival in Jackson, Mississippi. Charles Evers, Medgar’s brother, met Dylan after the show. Donna Ladd of the Jackson Free Press wrote:

“When they let us through the fence, the scene suddenly became quiet and reverent with everyone seemingly scared to blink. I stopped next to Malcolm and Holly. Then Bob Dylan appeared wearing his white cowboy hat. He warmly grasped Mr. Evers’ hand and held it for a good five minutes while they talked eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, man-to-man. They both nodded a lot and seemed emotional. I didn’t try to get closer. This was between two giants of the Civil Rights Movement, and the man they—we—had lost to hatred. I blinked back tears.”

Jackson Free Press

 Copyright © 2013 William Henry Prince.

CREDITS/SOURCES:

 

Photographs:
BLACK PANTHER PHOTO - Glen Wheeler (left) and Claudia Grayson, known as “Sister Sheeba” (right), stand outside George Jackson’s funeral at St. Augustine’s Church. Oakland, August 1971.
Huey P Newton holds Highway 61 Revisited at home after he was released from jail. Photograph © Stephen Shames
Books and Magazines
1 - Look magazine, January 1956 by William Bradford Huie.
2 – Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume One (Simon & Schuster)
3 – ‘The Afro American’, June 29, 1963.
4 - “In June, after Zantzinger's phalanx of five topflight attorneys won a change of venue to a court in Hagerstown, a three-judge panel reduced the murder charge to manslaughter. Following a three-day trial, Zantzinger was found guilty. For the assault on the hotel employees: a fine of $125. For the death of Hattie Carroll: six months in jail and a fine of $500. The judges considerately deferred the start of the jail sentence until September 15, to give Zantzinger time to harvest his tobacco crop”. — Time Magazine, "Deferred Sentence", September 6, 1963.
5 – The interview of Dylan ‘admitting’ having a heroin habit is from tapes of previously unheard recordings with Robert Shelton. They were uncovered during research for a revised and updated edition of Shelton’s book, No Direction Home. Excerpts from the recordings were broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday (23 May) 2011.
6 - Steve Allen TV show, 25th February 1964.
7 – The single reached 33 on the Billboard Top 100.     
8 - Hannon, A. G. "Huey Digs Bob Dylan: The Black Panthers, Highway 61 Revisited, and Making Revolutionary Meaning" 2013 
9 - Keep on Pushing: Black Power Music from Blues to Hip-hop. Denise Sullivan.
10 - Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton, Arrow Books and Hutchinson & Co., 1970.
11 – Rolling Stone, 2013.
12 - Link to the FBI Record Vault:  http://vault.fbi.gov/George%20Lester%20Jackson
Other books (and song lyrics):
Howard Sounes: Down the Highway, the Life of Bob Dylan.
Whitfield, Stephen (1991). A Death in the Delta: The story of Emmett Till, JHU Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-4326-6      
The Guardian, Thursday 2 September 2010 – After The Party: Music and the Black Panthers by Dorian Lynskey.
Lyrics from The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll are by Bob Dylan – Copyright © 1964, 1966 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music.
 Lyrics from Ballad of a Thin Man are by Bob Dylan – Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music.
Lyrics from George Jackson are by Bob Dylan - Copyright © 1971 by Ram's Horn Music; renewed 1999 by Ram’s Horn Music.
Lyrics from Blind Willie McTell are by Bob Dylan - Copyright © 1983 by Special Rider Music.
THANKS TO:
Dag Braathen's transcendental archive collection.
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2 responses to “BOB DYLAN & GEORGE JACKSON

    • I only meant to write a little bit about the song…but opened a can of worms. I just read your piece and it’s really good. The FBI connection was a complete shock to me.

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