Bob Dylan’s latest single “Murder Most Foul,” his first original song in eight years, is also now the folk-rock icon’s first No. 1 hit on a Billboard chart.
“Murder Most Foul” is a sweeping 17-minute ballad about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and according to Billboard, the song debuted at No. 1 on the Rock Digital Song Sales survey.
Billboard reports that the song hit 10,000 downloads in its first week and was streamed 1.8 million times in the U.S., which landed it at #5 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart. The track also has 2.7 million views on YouTube since debuting on March 26.
Dylan has placed on a Billboard chart before. His iconic “Like a Rolling Stone” hit No. 2 on the genre-encompassing Billboard Hot 100 back in September 1965, as did “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” in May 1966. But he’s never reached No. 1 on any individual genre chart until now.
Billboard also noted that Dylan flirted with some chart-topping success when three of his songs with The Traveling Wilburys (“Handle With Care,” “End of the Line” and “She’s My Baby), all reached No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock Songs charts back in the 1980s and ’90s. His songs also reached No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with Peter Paul & Mary’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” cover and The Byrds’ version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” topping the Hot 100 back in June 1965.
In a surprise on his Instagram page, Dylan released the track late last month and said that “Murder Most Foul” was a previously unreleased track he3 recorded some time ago.
“Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty over the years,” Dylan said in a statement on Instagram. “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.”
Dylan’s last album of original music was 2012’s “Tempest.” Since then, the folk-rock icon and Nobel Prize winner has released several albums of American standards, including most recently “Triplicate” in 2017.
The elegant piano and orchestral ballad “Murder Most Foul” describes the mournful details of the Kennedy assassination and the surrounding culture of the 1960s and ’70s, including mentions of The Beatles, Patsy Cline, Glenn Frey, Stevie Nicks, Billy Joel and many more.
“The day they killed him, someone said to me, ‘Son, the age of the Antichrist has just only begun,'” Dylan sings in the new track. “The soul of a nation’s been torn away, and it’s beginning to go into a slow decay. It’s 36 hours past judgment day.”
You can listen to “Murder Most Foul” above.