Last Friday, Bob Dylan recently released a new song, “Murder Most Foul.” It’s Dylan’s first new song in eight years, and clocking in at 17 minutes, it’s also his longest song ever. You can hear it on all the major streaming services, and what you’ll hear is a spoken-word surreal fever dream about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It’s not only a work of epic genius – formally, structurally, and otherwise – but it veritably demands a close reading in order to comprehend fully what the Nobel Prize-winner hath wrought.
Dylan’s song-poem unfolds through the voices of multiple narrators, including a third-person storyteller, JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, the unnamed and unknown conspirators behind the assassination, and Bob Dylan. The form perfectly suits the content by capturing the dizzying madness of that “dark day in Dallas, November ’63” and its puzzling aftermath. Throughout the number, Dylan sprinkles cultural signposts, political history, film and song titles, and literary allusions (beginning with the title itself, a quote from “Hamlet”).