From Charles Pierce at Esquire:

Bob Dylan Is 80-Years-Old Today. His Soul Is Infinitely Older.

He’s been calling America’s bluff since the day he rolled into Greenwich Village. 

Shortly before midnight, on March 27 of the plague year 2020, something shifted in the tectonics of a benumbed and petrified nation. A droning at first, and then a piano playing across town, or maybe across the long, bloody years of the last century. It was hard to tell. And the first two lines.

Twas a dark day in Dallas, November ’63
A day that will live on in infamy…

It was dark, conjuring music, with a violin floating in and out of the arrangement like a haunt in a mansion with no windows. The lyrics were barbed and accurate, the facts of November 22, 1963 honed like diamond-tipped drill bits and deployed throughout the song like a sword in a cane. FDR’s words after Pearl Harbor repurposed for use about the murder of a president. Perfect.

There’s a party goin’ on behind the Grassy Knoll
Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President.

Perhaps the last words John F. Kennedy ever heard. Nellie Connally, riding in the jump-seats in front of him in the limousine, said that to him just before the first shot sounded.

I’m in the red-light district, like a cop on the beat
Livin’ in a nightmare on Elm Street.

The president was killed on Elm Street.

You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head.

As cold a pun as any of Shakespeare’s.

I played the song, “Murder Most Foul,” three times running, the same way I played “Desolation Row” in 1965, and “Tangled Up In Blue” in 1974, and “Gates of Eden” repeatedly on a jukebox in the Avalanche Bar in Milwaukee in 1975, and “Jokerman” in 1983, and “Blind Willie McTell” in 1985, and “ Not Dark Yet” in 1997. All of them contained at least one or two lines that nailed my heart to the wall and my head to the sky.

Everybody is making love or else expecting rain.

Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenters’ wives.

The motorcycle black Madonna
Two-wheeled gypsy queen.

You’re going to Sodom and Gomorrah but what do you care?
Ain’t nobody there
would want to marry your sister.

Well I heard that hoot-owl singing
As the were taking down the tent
The stars above the barren trees was his only audience.

Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal.

And then, in a time when time itself seemed stunned and staggering, when simple human interaction was a deadly threat, when dread and fear and loss were triumphant, suddenly, out of nowhere, into these weird aquarium lives into which the plague had locked us, here came these amazing 17 minutes, words like cool cascades of sudden water, sweeping us back to our history, all of it, good and bad, reminding us of the first time most people my age saw our easy assumptions about this nation detonated.

Gunfire on a sunny afternoon.

Murder most foul.

How does he do it? How has he done it for going on 60 years now? How does he find exactly the right words for exactly the right moment at exactly the right time? How does he always—always—wrestle the baffling and formless zeitgeist into something so familiar that it fits perfectly into both our common history and our most uncommon mythos. How does he fit John F. Kennedy so tightly into the fabric of subterranean American history that also holds Staggerlee, and John Henry, The Butcher’s Boy and the Wagoners Lad, John the Revelator and the Coo Coo Bird, and Huck, lighting out for the west, for the newest frontier? How does brilliant, charismatic JFK turn into just another luckless victim, like Pretty Polly or the nameless corpse from “The Long Black Veil.” How did our entire country turn into one prolonged murder ballad, and how did Bob Dylan see it clearly enough to write it?

Damned if I know.

Read the rest of this incredible article about our greatest living artist here.

Here are the lyrics to the song.

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 got unpaid 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 watchin’, 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 goin’ 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 goin’ 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
I’m in the red-light district, like a cop on the beat
Livin’ 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 barrelhead, money to burn
Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn
I’m goin’ 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, Miss 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, I 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 over 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
Got 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 thirty-three 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 comin’ in through the gate
Johnson sworn in at 2:38
Let me know when you decide to throw 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 thirty-six 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 Carl Wilson, too
Looking far, far away down Gower 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 Nine, play Number Six
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 twelve 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 of 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”