This is the most engaging song by Bob Dylan I've heard in decades. As someone who grew up in the era of President Kennedy's assassination, the portrait Dylan paints in "Murder Most Foul" is extraordinary, and takes me back to those days, to my memories of a nation overwhelmed by grief. There's something eerie about this song coming out at this precise moment. I imagine that decades from now, the children of today will have memories of these "quarentimes," as I call them, sparked by songs, film and literature of our era.
The picture Dylan paints of the 1960s in "Murder Most Foul" is sprawling, especially in the musical references he makes across the 17-minute-long song. When I first listened to it, I caught references to dozens of songs, so NPR Music critic Ann Powers and I started combing through the song and making a playlist that roughly follows this lesson in music history as he unspools it. We'll keep looking, and you should too – if you find a song we missed, let us know by posting with the hashtag #mostfoulplaylist at the @allsongs Twitter account and we'll add them.
Songs Referenced In Bob Dylan's "Murder Most Foul"
(Listen on Spotify and Apple Music)
Children's Music - "Hush Little Baby"
The Beatles - "I Want To Hold Your Hand"
Gerry & The Pacemakers - "Ferry Cross the Mersey"
Joni Mitchell - "Woodstock"
The 5th Dimension - "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)"
Shirley & Lee - "Let The Good Times Roll"
Wanda Jackson - "There's A Party Goin' On"
Robert Johnson - "Crossroads"
The Grateful Dead - "Deep Ellum Blues"
Jr. Walker & The All Stars - "Shotgun"
Kay Kyser - "The Wise Old Owl"
The Who - "Tommy Can You Hear Me?"
The Who - "The Acid Queen"
Elvis Presley - "Long Black Limousine"
Roomful of Blues - "Backseat Blues"
John Michael King - "On the Street Where You Live"
Joan Baez - "Oh, Freedom"
Little Richard - "Send Me Some Lovin'"
Burt Bacharach - "Walk On By"
The Everly Brothers - "Wake up Little Susie"
Larry Williams - "Dizzy Miss Lizzy"
Billie Holiday - "You Go To My Head"
Patsy Cline - "Crazy"
The Kingston Trio - "The New Frontier"
Tom Jones - "What's New Pussycat?"
Ray Charles - "What'd I Say"
Wolfman Jack - "Dust My Broom"
Billy Joel - "Only the Good Die Young"
The Kingston Trio - "Tom Dooley"
Louis Armstrong - "St. James Infirmary (Gambler's Blues)"
Etta James - "Tell Mama"
John Lee Hooker - "Boom Boom"
Slim Harpo - "Baby Scratch My Back"
Guitar Slim - "The Things That I Used To Do"
Marilyn Monroe - "I Wanna Be Loved By You"
Nina Simone - "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
Warren Zevon - "Desperados Under the Eaves"
Eagles - "Take It to the Limit"
Elvis Presley - "Mystery Train"
The Platters - "Twilight Time"
Bob Wills - "Take Me Back To Tulsa"
Queen - "Another One Bites The Dust"
Jo Stafford - "The Old Rugged Cross"
Gaither Carlton - "Look Down That Lonesome Road"
Oscar Peterson - "Stormy Weather"
Stan Getz - "The Girl From Ipanema"
Dickie Betts - "Blue Sky"
Thelonious Monk -" 'Round Midnight"
Charlie Parker - "All The Things You Are"
Chicago Cast - "All That Jazz"
Charlie Chaplin - "Chaplin and Keaton Piano and Violin Duet"
The Allman Brothers Band - "Blue Sky"
Woody Guthrie - "Pretty Boy Floyd"
Ella Fitzgerald - "Cry Me A River"
The Beatles - "Revolution 9"
Nat King Cole - "Nature Boy"
Nancy Sinatra - "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)"
Stevie Nicks - "Rooms on Fire"
Billy Joe Royal - "Down in the Boondocks"
Elvis Presley - "One Night Of Sin"
Miles Davis - "Stella By Starlight"
The Animals - "House of the Rising Sun"
Erroll Garner - "Misty"
Miles Davis Quartet - "That Old Devil Moon"
Eileen Rodgers - "Anything Goes"
Benny Goodman - "King Porter Stomp"
Little Richard - "Lucille"
Chet Baker - "Deep In A Dream"
Randy Newman - "Lonely at the Top"
Ludwig van Beethoven - "Moonlight Sonata (1st Movement)"
Little Walter - "Key to the Highway"
Tennessee Ernie Ford - "Marching Through Georgia"
The Corries - "Dumbarton's Drums"
Hoagy Carmichael - "Memphis In June"
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