Pistol shots ring out in the ballroom night Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall. She sees the bartender in a pool of blood, Cries out, "My God, they've killed them all!" Here comes the story of the Hurricane, The man the authorities came to blame For somethin' that he never done. Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been The champion of the world.
Three bodies lyin' there does Patty see And another man named Bello, movin' around mysteriously. "I didn't do it," he says, and he throws up his hands "I was only robbin' the register, I hope you understand. I saw them leavin'," 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 red lights flashin' In the hot New Jersey night.
Meanwhile, far away in another part of town Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin' around. Number one contender for the middleweight crown Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road Just like the time before and the time before that. In Paterson that's just the way things go. If you're black you might as well not show up on the street 'Less you wanna draw the heat.
Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops. Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin' around He said, "I saw two men runnin' out, they looked likemiddleweights They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates." And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head. Cop said, "Wait a minute, boys, this one's not dead" So they took him to the infirmary And though this man could hardly see They told him that he could identify the guilty men.
Four in the mornin' and they haul Rubin in, Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs. The wounded man looks up through his one dyin' eye Says, "Wha'd you bring him in here for? He ain't the guy!" Yes, here's the story of the Hurricane, The man the authorities came to blame For somethin' that he never done. Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been The champion of the world.
Four months later, the ghettos are in flame, Rubin's in South America, fightin' for his name While Arthur Dexter Bradley's still in the robbery game And the cops are puttin' the screws to him, lookin' for somebody to blame. "Remember that murder that happened in a bar?" "Remember you said you saw the getaway car?" "You think you'd like to play ball with the law?" "Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin' that night?" "Don't forget that you are white."
Arthur Dexter Bradley said, "I'm really not sure." Cops said, "A poor boy like you could use a break We got you for the motel job and we're talkin' to your friend Bello Now you don't wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow. You'll be doin' society a favor. That sonofabitch is brave and gettin' braver. We want to put his ass in stir We want to pin this triple murder on him He ain't no Gentleman Jim."
Rubin could take a man out with just one punch 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 jail house Where they try to turn a man into a mouse.
All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance. The judge made Rubin's witnesses drunkards from the slums To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger. No one doubted that he pulled the trigger. And though they could not produce the gun, The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed And the all-white jury agreed.
Rubin Carter was falsely tried. The crime was murder "one," guess who testified? Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied And the newspapers, they all 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 coats and their ties Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell An innocent man in a living hell. 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 in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been The champion of the world.