Music/Lyrics: Bob Dylan/Jacques Levy
Original Artist: Bob Dylan
Original Album: Desire (1976)
Historian: Ellis Godard
Dylan wrote a fabulously powerful epic about 1960s middleweight Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, an African American boxer said to have been wrongly convicted of a triple homicide. Many pop cultural luminaries championed Carter’s case, as they staged protests and held benefit concerts to raise popular support for his cause. He was eventually awarded an honorary Middleweight championship, and his story was brought to the big screen in 1999 (starring Denzel Washington). The coarse story fit Dylan’s coarse voice, and remains a highlight of an evocative album that isn’t lacking in punches.
But Phish blew it. Recordings circulate of their attempt, but they are not recommended. (Indeed, most didn’t know Phish had ever played the tune, prior to its inclusion in the From the Archives radio show at The Great Went; Kevin included the Makisupa > Piggies > Makisupa from the same show during the Festival 8 archives show.) The story’s frailty is lost without the crying fiddle – and the bleakness of the song’s social critique is lost in then-21-year-old Trey's unseasoned voice, which was not yet (and is arguably still not) capable of conveying the drama of the underlying story, particularly interspersed with several apparent giggles.