“George Jackson” (1971)

“Blackmen born in the U.S. and fortunate enough to live past the age of 18 are conditioned to accept the inevitability of prison. For most of us, it simply looms as the next phase in a sequence of humiliations.”  -George Jackson-
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In the last verse of “George Jackson,” Dylan rhymes “yard” with “guards,” the last words of lines 2 and 4:

Sometimes I think this whole world
Is one big prison yard
Some of us are prisoners
The rest of us are guards
Lord, Lord
They cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord
They laid him in the ground

This is the rhyming pattern in the song; each 2nd and 4th lines end in a rhyme.  Otherwise, the rhyming is limited to the “down”/”ground” one that ends each verse:

I woke up this mornin’
There were tears in my bed
They killed a man I really loved
Shot him through the head
Lord, Lord
They cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord
They laid him in the ground

Sent him off to prison
For a seventy-dollar robbery
Closed the door behind him
And they threw away the key
Lord, Lord
They cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord
They laid him in the ground

He wouldn’t take shit from no one
He wouldn’t bow down or kneel
Authorities, they hated him
Because he was just too real
Lord, Lord
They cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord
They laid him in the ground

Prison guards, they cursed him
As they watched him from above
But they were frightened of his power
They were scared of his love.
Lord, Lord,
So they cut George Jackson down.
Lord, Lord,
They laid him in the ground.

Sometimes I think this whole world
Is one big prison yard
Some of us are prisoners
The rest of us are guards
Lord, Lord
They cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord
They laid him in the ground

In the “yard”/”guard” rhyme Dylan does one of his “either one or the other” a la “Well it may be the devil or it may be the Lord . . .” binary in “Gotta Serve Somebody.” This one has teeth though; indeed the world as “one big prison yard” and we as either prisoners or guards is convincing, as is the way Joan Baez sings the song:

Some background of Jackson taken from the Freedom Archives website:

“Black Panther leader George Jackson was born on September 23, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. At age 18, he was sentenced to serve an indeterminate term in San Quentin State Prison for a $70 gas station robbery. On August 21, 1971, the FBI, the state of California and other law enforcement agencies killed Jackson with multiple bullets to his chest, but they failed to kill the revolutionary struggle of Black and poor prison inmates that he was instrumental in organizing throughout this country.

Jackson educated himself behind prison bars to the point where his clear vision of historical and contemporary reality and his ability to communicate his perspective had frightened the U.S. power structure into physically liquidating him. Jackson’s survival for so many years in vicious jails, his self-education, and his publication of Soledad Brother were tremendous personal achievements.

His assassination sparked the September 13, 1971 rebellion at Attica State Prison in New York, prompting the bloodiest suppression of an inmate uprising in U.S. history.”

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