#962: 1964, Bob Dylan, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

by Jackie_South on November 28, 2014

…And swear words and sneering and his tongue it was snarling…

As if we really needed to be reminded this week that the Nasty Party never went away, two incidents of powerful Tories launching into tirades against those they view as their inferiors have played a prominent role in this week’s news.

First, we had David Mellor chastising a cabbie for daring to suggest that his years studying The Knowledge  might somehow give him a better idea of how to get about London “You’ve been driving a cab for 10 years? I have been in the cabinet, I am an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s Counsel, you think your experiences are anything compared to mine? Just shut up.”

Then we had the verdict that Andrew Mitchell probably did call PC Rowland a “fucking pleb” just for doing his job.

The rich and powerful have always felt it is their right to look down their noses at, and indeed abuse, the rest of us just doing our job.

Of course, Mellor and Mitchell did not go as far as privileged William Zantzinger (renamed “Zanzinger” by Dylan) did at a Baltimore hotel in 1963. Other than the slight name change and Carroll’s job (she was in fact a barmaid rather than kitchen maid) everything else in the song is true in this tale of segregation era Maryland. Zantzinger did indeed receive just six months for manslaughter. All Carroll had done was not deliver the already drunk son of privilege a glass of bourbon quickly enough. In fact, the song leaves out the other staff he assaulted that evening, and his repeated use of the N-word.

We should still not waste time philosophising on disgrace or criticising very real fears, but at least this week some justice has been done for those abused by the powerful.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike Killingworth November 28, 2014 at 8:04 am

Doctor Johnson said that occasional poetry deserves occasional praise, whilst Goethe thought it the highest form of poetry. Both children of their time and place, I suppose. As was Dylan (I know he’s still with us, but it doesn’t really feel like it, does it?)

The abuse of power is an inevitable consequence of the existence of power. Or maybe it’s a consequence of the existence of small children in adult bodies. Take your pick.


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