Bob Dylan releases first new song in eight years

After eight years of silence Bob Dylan released a new song, news wires reported. It is a 17-minute reflection on the 1960s and the assassination of John Kennedy. "They blew out the brains of the king. Thousands were watching at home and saw the whole thing," he sings in the opening of Murder Most Foul.

The track was released Thursday midnight, with Dylan explaining it had been "recorded a while back". "Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty over the years," he said in a statement. "This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant, and may God be with you."

He gave no further clues about its vintage, but the delicate, almost conversational vocals are reminiscent of his more recent live shows. Musically, it's spacious and haunting, with a dusting of piano, a sorrowful violin, and slow, brushed percussion - and while interpreting the lyrics would require weeks of scholarship, two lines in particular suggest Dylan may have chosen to release the song now as a commentary on US politics.

"The day they killed him, someone said to me, 'Son, the age of the Antichrist has just only begun,'" he sings around the nine-minute mark. "I said, 'The soul of a nation's been torn away, and it's beginning to go into a slow decay.' And that it's 36 hours past judgement day."

As well as Kennedy's assassination, the song makes allusions to pop culture, from Nightmare on Elm Street and The Merchant of Venice to The Beatles' I Want to Hold Your Hand and even Billy Joel's Only the Good Die Young. The last five minutes are almost a catalogue of his favourite music, referencing Stevie Nicks, Nat King Cole, The Eagles, Cole Porter's Anything Goes, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and jazz greats like Stan Getz and Charlie Parker.

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