Monday, April 21, 2014

Bob Dylan: Hurricane

Did you miss me? I hope so. Several weeks ago, I got sick and put the blog on hold and never found the free time to return to my regular posts – but today as I traveled from West Virginia to Kentucky, I heard that Rubin “Hurricane” Carter had passed away yesterday at the age of 76 of prostate cancer. I knew I had to get back to writing regarding the passing of this legendary former boxer.

But what brought fame to Carter was not his prowess in the ring, it was the tragedy in his life. In 1967, the State of New Jersey wrongly convicted Carter and his friend John Artis for a triple homicide on June 17, 1966 at a Patterson, New Jersey bar. Largely convicted due to racism, Carter spent the next 18 years in jail for the murders, as he put it, he “couldn’t, wouldn’t, and didn’t commit.”

In 1975, Carter’s autobiography, The Sixteenth Round was published and the attention it generated inspired Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy to write and record the single “Hurricane” the same year. Charting at #33, the single appeared on Dylan’s 1976 album “Desire.” The song also appears prominently in the 1999 movie “The Hurricane” starring Denzel Washington as Carter.

The book and single brought Carter’s situation to a broader public, but it would be 10 years before he would be released. Carter later moved to Toronto where he became a motivational speaker and an advocate for others who were wrongly imprisoned.

Although Carter’s life was full of tragedy, he was not bitter. He persevered and became an inspiration for others in similar situations. You are free now, “Hurricane,” free now.

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