I woke up this morning to learn that Rubin “Hurricane” Carter had passed away after a lengthy fight with prostate cancer. I wrote about Dylan’s song, “Hurricane”, two weeks ago. One of the striking things about reading the obituary in the Globe and Mail this morning is how much the first few pages read like an outline for the song – the facts of the case has become codified by the way that Dylan and Levy reported it.
The final show on Dylan’s 1975 leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue was the Carter benefit show on December 8 at Madison Square Garden. Muhammad Ali acted as host, stumping more for a politician than for Carter. Carter spoke to the crowd by phone hook-up, and listened to the show from his cell. Robbie Robertson joined Dylan onstage for his set. Joan Baez performed dressed as Dylan, which must have given their duets a strange(r) feeling. It’s not the best show on the first leg of the tour, but it is close enough.
One of the things that was interesting about the obituary was the note that none of Carter’s celebrity defenders came to see him after he was convicted a second time. I’d be curious to know what kind of relationship (if any) Dylan had to Carter after he was released. Larry Sloman’s tour diary does have the two speaking by phone frequently in 1975.
Carter’s story is a depressing one, and still all too common. It’s heartening that he dedicated so much of his time after his release to fighting for the rights of others who had been falsely accused. He was clearly a man with many issues – Sloman’s book is quite hostile to him in a lot of ways, much of that voiced by Joni Mitchell’s criticisms of his egotism, and he struggled with alcoholism after his release, but what happened to him was inexcusable.
Here’s Dylan performing “Hurricane” live in 1975 (can’t get it to embed, click through)