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Rolling Stone Fact-Checks Famous Rock Songs

From Bob Dylan To Nas, 11 songs with a shaky grasp on history

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Bob Dylan - 'Hurricane'

When rock stars write songs about real people and events they have a tendency to make mistakes. Sometimes they're trivial – and other times they get major historical events wrong by 2,000 years. Here's a guide to some of the most glaring, starting with Bob Dylan's 1976 classic "Hurricane."

Co-written by playwright Jacques Levy, the well-meaning song got many of the details wrong about the plight of middleweight boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.  Though a rising boxer, he was not the "Number One contender for the middle weight crown," as Dylan sang. The song also says that Carter was "far away on the other side of town" at the time of the murder, but he was actually just a few minutes away. In fact, eyewitness Patty Valentine's role in the song was so distorted that she sued Dylan.

Dylan expert Clinton Heylin does a good job of debunking the song in his book Still On The Road. This doesn't imply that Carter was guilty of murder, just that Dylan and Levy were sloppy with the facts of his case. And don't even get us started on the movie...

By Andy Greene

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