For years, Bob Dylan followers have spoken in a kind of hushed awe concerning the longest tune he ever launched, “Highlands,” an album side-length 1997 observe that ran 16 minutes and 31 seconds. Now, 23 years later, he’s barely outdone himself. Because the clock struck midnight on the east coast Friday morning, Dylan launched a brand new tune, “Homicide Most Foul,” that has a 16:57 operating time — and it’s an epic free affiliation on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Little info was given concerning the shock observe, aside from a short assertion from Dylan himself:

“Greetings to my followers and followers with gratitude for all of your help and loyalty through the years.

“That is an unreleased tune we recorded some time again that you just would possibly discover attention-grabbing.

“Keep protected, keep observant and will God be with you.

Bob Dylan”

A Dylan consultant mentioned the assertion was all the data they’d be releasing concerning the tune, so whether or not “some time again” means a matter of months or a few years stays a thriller.

Dylan’s final album of unique materials, “Tempest,” got here out in 2012, though he has launched three units of his interpretations of songs from the Nice American Songbook in-between, the final of which was the triple-album “Triplicate” in three years in the past. Rumors have been rampant that this yr Dylan may be releasing his first album of self-penned songs in eight years, however there’s been no affirmation of that.

The lyrics of the monumental observe will fascinate Dylanologists who’ve waited years for one thing recent to dissect, since there’s actually half an album’s value of fabric simply in a single observe right here.

At instances the lyrics converse actually of the Kennedy assassination, with a bent towards conspiratorial takes on the occasion, and at others the tune breaks extra freely right into a pop-culture fantasia.

Dylan often references or riffs on 1960s occasions, catchphrases or titles, with strains that embrace: “The Beatles are coming, they’e gonna maintain your hand” (the arrival of the Fab 4 in America in early 1964 is regarded by some as a tonic to the lingering melancholy from the assassination); “dwelling in a nightmare down on Elm Avenue” (a “Twilight Zone” reference); “ferry cross the Mersey and go for the throat” (solely a part of which is a nod to Gerry and the Pacemakers); “Tommy are you able to hear me, I’m the Acid Queen,” and “I’m going to Woodstock, it’s the Aquarian age / Then I’ll go to Altamont and stand close to the stage.” (Dylan doesn’t have his head totally within the ’60s, right here: “Frankly Miss Scarlett, I don’t give a rattling” additionally comes up for a quotation.)

With regards to the precise assassination, Dylan doesn’t skimp on the small print: “They blew off his head whereas he was nonetheless within the automobile,” he sings within the first stanza. In a while, he traces the automobile’s exit away from Dealy Plaza, even taking a first-person perspective of the deceased Kennedy: “Using within the backseat subsequent to my spouse / And it’s straight on into the afterlife / I’m leaning to the left I received my head in her lap.”

He additionally takes the perspective of Kennedys assailant — or, in his view, assailants — singing provocative strains like, “We’ve already received somebody right here to take your home.” Within the tune’s view, the killing of JFK, “proper there in entrance of everybody’s eyes,” is the “best magic trick” — and one he presumably thinks has some relevance in 2020.