Bob Dylan chante ici une de ses premières chansons longtemps restée inconnue faute d’enregistrement publié. Cette chanson, comme il s’en explique ailleurs, lui a été inspirée par l’histoire arrivée à un de ses amis, et la musique est reprise d’une chanson traditionnelle chantée par Paul Clayton, intitulée The Wind And The Rain. Sa chanson est en effet construite de la même manière, avec un refrain croisé à l’intérieur des couplets. D’une façon générale, elle est construite dans la plus pure tradition des vieilles ballades anglaises – y compris par sa longueur, et le luxe de ses détails.

Elle commence comme s’il s’agissait de l’histoire d’un meurtre : son ami a été condamné à 99 ans de prison pour meurtre « au premier degré », la qualification la plus grave. Mais il découvre qu’il s’agit en réalité d’un accident de la circulation causé par cet ami, et ayant provoqué la mort de quatre personnes. Il tente d’amadouer le juge, de lui dire qu’il n’y a pas eu de volonté de tuer, que cela peut arriver à chacun d’entre nous, mais rien n’y fait, le jugement est rendu et est définitif. Dans la nuit qui suit, la seule chose qu’il soit capable de faire, est de prendre sa guitare et de jouer ce seul morceau : « Oh the Cruel Rain And the Wind. » – celui-là même qui servira de base à sa chanson.

PERCY’S SONG

Bad news, bad news, came to me where I sleep,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Sayin’ one of your friends Is in trouble deep,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

Oh what is the trouble,tell once to my ear,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Joliet prison, and ninety-nine years,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

Oh what is the charge of how this came to be,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Manslaughter in the highest of degree,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

I sat down and wrote the best words that I could write,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Explaining to the judge i’d be there on Wednesday night,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

Without a reply, I left by the moon,
Turn, turn, turn again.
And was in his chambers by the next afternoon,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

Could ya tell me the facts? I said without fear,
Turn, turn, turn again.
That a friend of mine would get ninety-nine years,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

A crash on the highway flew a car to a field,
Turn, turn, turn again.
There was four people killed and he was at the wheel,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

But I know him as good as I know myself,
Turn, turn, turn again.
And he wouldn’t harm a life that belonged to someone else,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

Tat might be so said the judge from the side of his mouth,
Turn, turn, turn again.
But the witness who saw, left little doubt,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

And it might be true, he has a sentence to serve,
Turn, turn, turn again.
But ninety-nine years, he just don’t deserve,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

Too late, too late, for his case it is sealed,
Turn, turn, turn again.
This sentence is passed and it cannot be repealed,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

But he ain’t no criminal and his crime it is none,
Turn, turn, turn again.
What happened to him could happen to anyone,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

And at that the judge jerked forward and his face it did freeze,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Sayin’, « Could you kindly leave my office now, please, »
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

I tilted my head and I stood up so slow,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Without no choice except but for to go,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

I walked down the hallway and I heard the door slam,
Turn, turn, turn again.
I walked down the courthouse stairs and I did not understand,
Turn, turn to the rain and the wind.

And I played my guitar through the night to the day,
Turn, turn, turn again.
And the only tune my guitar could play
Was, « Oh the Cruel Rain And the Wind. »