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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Hurricane - the Hen Harrier song by Bob Dylan

Dylan was quite a campaigner, wasn't he? - maybe even an eco-zealot.
His song 'Hurricane' really shows how much he cared for our British uplands
Maybe this is what really got him the Nobel Prize for Literature - such a heart-rending tale of innocent moorland folk. . .
Bob Dylan ecozealot and moorland campaigner? (Photo by Elsa Dorfman)

Hurricane - Bob Dylan

Shotguns ring out in the moorland night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall
She sees the Hen Harrier in a pool of blood
Cries out "My God they killed them all"
Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The game manager the authorities came to blame
For something that he never done
Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the moors.

Three raptors lying there does Patty see
And another keeper named Bello moving around mysteriously
"I didn't do it" he says and he holds up his hands
"I was only burning heather I hope you understand
I saw them flying" he says and he stops
"One of us had better call up the cops"
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their blue lights flashing
In the hot Caledonian night.

Meanwhile far away in another part of town
Mike Osbourne and a couple of toffs are driving around
Number one contender for the grouse moorland crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
When a WCO cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that
In Scotland that's just the way things go
If you manage grouse moors you might as well not shown up on the street
'Less you wanna draw the heat.

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap from the cops
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowling around
He said "I saw two men running out from the heather
They jumped into a white Landy and made off, hell for leather"
And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head
WCO Cop said "Wait a minute boys this bird's not dead"
So they took it to the vets
And though this bird could hardly see
They told it that she could identify the guilty men.

Four in the morning and they haul Osbourne in
Take him to the vets and they bring him upstairs
The wounded ringtail looks up through its one dying eye
Squawks: "Wha'd you bring him in here for ? He ain't the guy !"
Yes here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For something that he never done
Put in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the moors.

Four months later the moorlands are still in flame
Osbourne's down in South Yorkshire fighting for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley's still in the raptor-killin' game
And the WCOs are putting the screws to him looking for somebody to blame
"Remember that murder that happened up on the moor?"
"Remember you said you saw that four-by-four?"
"You think you'd like to play ball with the law?"
"Think it might-a been that grouse manager you saw running that night?"
"Don't forget that we are right".

Arthur Dexter Bradley said "I'm really not sure"
WCO cops said "A boy like you could use a break
We got you for the carbofuran job and we're talking to your friend Bello
Now you don't wanta have to go back to court - be a nice fellow
You'll be doing society a favor
That sonofabitch is brave and getting braver
We want to put his ass in the stir
We want to pin this triple raptor murder on him
He ain't no Gentleman Jim".

Osbourne could take a brace out with just one shot
But he never did like to talk about it all that much
It's my work he'd say and I do it for pay
And when it's over I'd just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail
But then they took him to the courthouse
Where they try to turn a moorland man into a mouse.

All of Mike's cards were marked in advance
The trial was a circus - he never had a chance
The judge made Osbourne's witnesses poachers from the slums
To the ecozealots who watched, he was a revolutionary bum
And to the BASC folks he was just a crazy nigger
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger
And though they could not produce the gun
The DNA said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed.

Mike Osbourne was falsely tried
The crime was raptor killin' - guess who testified
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the Times newspaper, it went along for the ride
How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool's hand ?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.

Now all the criminals in their tweeds and their jackets
Are free to rear red grouse and make themselves a packet
While Mike sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell
Yes, that's the story of the Hurricane
But it won't be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he's done
Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the moors.

(with apologies to Bob Dylan https://youtu.be/gGMSfiH850o)

Langholm hen harrier "Annie" - found shot on a Scottish grouse moor