Bob Dylan Scores First-Ever No. 1 Hit With 17-Minute ‘Murder Most Foul’ Ballad
DYLAN'S 1ST EVER NUMBER 1 HIT
April 8, 2020
Bob Dylan’s latest single “Murder Most Foul,” his first original song in eight years, is also now the folk-rock icon’s first No. 1 hit on a Billboard chart.
“Murder Most Foul” is a sweeping 17-minute ballad about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and according to Billboard, the song debuted at No. 1 on the Rock Digital Song Sales survey.
Billboard reports that the song hit 10,000 downloads in its first week and was streamed 1.8 million times in the U.S., which landed it at #5 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart. The track also has 2.7 million views on YouTube since debuting on March 26.
Dylan has placed on a Billboard chart before. His iconic “Like a Rolling Stone” hit No. 2 on the genre-encompassing Billboard Hot 100 back in September 1965, as did “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” in May 1966. But he’s never reached No. 1 on any individual genre chart until now.
Billboard also noted that Dylan flirted with some chart-topping success when three of his songs with The Traveling Wilburys (“Handle With Care,” “End of the Line” and “She’s My Baby), all reached No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock Songs charts back in the 1980s and ’90s. His songs also reached No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with Peter Paul & Mary’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” cover and The Byrds’ version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” topping the Hot 100 back in June 1965.
In a surprise on his Instagram page, Dylan released the track late last month and said that “Murder Most Foul” was a previously unreleased track he3 recorded some time ago.
“Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty over the years,” Dylan said in a statement on Instagram. “This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant, and may God be with you.”
Dylan’s last album of original music was 2012’s “Tempest.” Since then, the folk-rock icon and Nobel Prize winner has released several albums of American standards, including most recently “Triplicate” in 2017.
The elegant piano and orchestral ballad “Murder Most Foul” describes the mournful details of the Kennedy assassination and the surrounding culture of the 1960s and ’70s, including mentions of The Beatles, Patsy Cline, Glenn Frey, Stevie Nicks, Billy Joel and many more.
“The day they killed him, someone said to me, ‘Son, the age of the Antichrist has just only begun,'” Dylan sings in the new track. “The soul of a nation’s been torn away, and it’s beginning to go into a slow decay. It’s 36 hours past judgment day.”
Murder Most Foul Bob Dylan
Twas 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 gotta pay 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 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 going to Woodstock, it's the Aquarian Age Then I'll go 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 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 in Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe Don't ask what your country can do for you Cash on the ballot, 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, my Scarlet, 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 the wise old owl Business is business, and it's a murder most foul Tommy, can you hear me? I'm the Acid Queen I'm riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine Riding in the backseat next to my wife Heading straight on in to the afterlife I'm leaning to the left, 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's not there where it was supposed to be at For the last fifty years they've been searchin' for that Freedom, oh freedom Freedom above me I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free Send me some lovin', tell me no lies Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by Wake up, little Suzie, 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've seen that before Seen it 33 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 coming in through the gate Johnson sworn in at 2:38 Let me know when you decide to thrown 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 36 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 Port 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 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 Karl Wirsum, too Looking far, far away at Down Gallow 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 Hot 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 9 Play Number 6 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 12 Million souls that are listening in Play "Merchant to 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 coming, 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 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 "Dumbaroton'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"