Lyrics to ‘Murder Most Foul’

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 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 limousine

Riding in the backseat next to my wife

Heading straight on into 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 from need

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 seen night before

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 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, 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

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 the 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’

11 comments

  1. Bill Simpich says:

    I think all the name-dropping is to hide his pain. I understand he conducted his own personal Dealey Plaza tours back in the sixties. Dylan has a hard time dealing with politics – this event may have been a big reason why he turned away from this central aspect of human life back then.

  2. Jim Loving says:

    There will be lots of folks analyzing this for quite some time. On twitter, the day it was released, I saw one commenter making an interpretation for this line from the 2nd stanza:

    “Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl

    Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul.” Who is the wolfman howling after the murder?

    She noted that GHWB’s USS code name was Timberwolf. No other POTUS had a code name with wolf in it. Since the reference to Wolfman Jack playing the 74 songs mentioned does not occur to the 11th stanza, presumably the first wolf is a different person.

    Perhaps breaking into an uncontrollable grin when delivering a eulogy for Warren Commission participant and ex-POTUS Gerry Ford was our version of Dylan’s “wolfman howl”.

    From GHWB’s Euology: “After a deluded gunman, (grin), assassinated President Kennedy, our nation turned to Gerald Ford, and a select few others, to make sense of that madness. And the conspiracy theorists may say what they will, but the Warren Commission will have the final, definitive say on this tragic matter. Why? Because Gerry Ford put his name on it.”

    Well, Mr. Dylan has finally weighed in with song, putting his “name on it”, Murder Most Fowl, and perhaps he will add to the list of many tireless researchers who will help many Americans finally make sense of “that madness.”

  3. Ravi Sidhoo says:

    darker than bye bye american pie

    needed to be sung

  4. Carl says:

    Only as Dylan can.

  5. robert e williamson jr says:

    The best of the best of his classics.

  6. robert e williamson jr says:

    Simply brilliant!

  7. AJ says:

    Thank you so much!! I am 54 years old so the assassination was before my time, but I have been obsessed about it the past couple of weeks reading and watching everything I can find on theories about what really happened and who was involved. I am stunned about this song being released just recently.

  8. J. Charles says:

    Jackie = Pink Panther – ‘nuf said

    • ed connor says:

      The original “Pink Panther” film was shot in 1963, before the assassination (although it wasn’t released until early 1964).
      It launched the career of Peter Sellers, who played the inept Inspector Clouseau, but the featured star was the jewel thief who stole the Pink Panther diamond, David Niven. Niven was a close friend of JFK, since his early days in London. He is famous for his Oscar speech when, after being “streaked” by a naked man, replied “well, we can all see his shortcomings.”

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