Did Bob Dylan Really Write “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” About the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: Bob Dylan wrote “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Since today is Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday, I thought it only right to do a legend about Dylan. This one is about one of his earliest classics, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”…

The song was written in 1962 and its lyrics are striking and, at times, quite bleak:

I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

In the liner notes to the 1963 album that had the song on it, Dylan’s breakout hit album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Nat Hentoff quotes Dylan about the song, talking about how he wrote it at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the United States seemed like it might be involved in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union over the presence of missiles in Cuba:

“Every line in it is actually the start of a whole new song. But when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn’t have enough time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one.”

So that seems like it addresses it evenly, right? Or no?
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Did Frank Sinatra Keep the Manchurian Candidate Under Wraps After the Kennedy Assassination?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Frank Sinatra kept the Manchurian Candidate under wraps for years in the wake of the Kennedy Assassination.

The Manchurian Candidate is about a United States soldier (played by Lawrence Harvey) who is brainwashed in an attempt to get him to assassinate a Presidential candidate, allowing the Vice-Presidential candidate (who is controlled by the Communists) to take over control of the party and run the United States FOR the Communists (and be the “Manchurian Candidate” that the title refers to).

Frank Sinatra plays a fellow soldier who does his best to stop this plan. Angela Lansbury is magnificent as the evil mother of Harvey.

The film was released in October of 1962.

A little more than one year later, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated.

It has long been said that Frank Sinatra got a hold of the film rights and then squashed the film until the late 1980s in honor of the President. In fact, it was said that he got the rights specifically TO squash the film.
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Was Filming of Cheyenne Autumn Halted Due to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Filming of Cheyenne Autumn was halted due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Cheyenne Autumn was John Ford’s last western, released in 1964.

It told the story of a tribe of 300 or so Cheyenne who travel from their Oklahoma reservation to Wyoming, and the United States Government’s response to the situation. It was Ford’s tribute of sorts to the native peoples of America.

On the same day in November 1963 that Ford was shooting the climactic conflict between Little Wolf (Ricardo Monteblan) and Red Shirt (Sal Mineo),

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

The legend goes that John Ford, a big Irish Catholic, was so distraught over the news that production of the film was halted.
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Were the Kennedys First Called “Camelot” Because of the Musical Camelot?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about musicals and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the musical urban legends featured so far.

MUSICAL URBAN LEGEND: The Kennedys being referred to as “Camelot” came about directly because of the musical Camelot.

When John F. Kennedy was elected as the President of the United States in 1960, he was the youngest man ever elected President (he remains today the youngest man ever elected President). Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, and their two young children, Caroline and John Jr., were soon the most recognizable family in the United States.

In 1956, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederic Loewe debuted their classic musical, My Fair Lady, which was one of the most successful musicals of all time (and remains one of the most popular musicals ever). So their follow-up project was one of the most anticipated musicals that you could imagine. They ultimately decided on adapting T.H. White’s take on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, The Once and Future King.

Titled Camelot, the musical starred Richard Burton as King Arthur, Julie Andrews as Queen Guenevere and a young Robert Goulet as Sir Lancelot. It opened in 1960, just one month after Kennedy was named the next President of the United States (the show’s run ended in January 1963).

After a bit of a false start, it was buoyed by a performance of four of the songs from the musical on the Ed Sullivan Show, leading to Camelot also becoming a rousing success.

For years, the Kennedys have been referred to as “Camelot.”

Was there a connection?

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