George Jackson (song)

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This article is about the Bob Dylan song. For other uses of the name "George Jackson", see George Jackson (disambiguation).
"George Jackson"
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Masterpieces
A-side George Jackson (Big Band version)
B-side George Jackson (Acoustic version)
Released November 12, 1971
Format 7"
Recorded November 4, 1971, Columbia Studio B, New York City
Genre Rock, folk, protest Song
Length 5:38 (Big Band version) / 3:37 (Acoustic version)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Bob Dylan
Producer(s) Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan discography chronology
"Watching the River Flow"
"George Jackson"
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"

"George Jackson" is a song by Bob Dylan, written in 1971, in tribute to the Black Panther leader, George Jackson, who had been shot and killed by guards at San Quentin Prison on August 21, 1971, during an attempted escape from prison. The event indirectly provoked the Attica Prison riot.

Dylan recorded the song at Columbia Studio B, on November 4, 1971[1] and it was quickly released as a 45 rpm single, Columbia 4-45516, on November 12, 1971.[2] The single consisted of a "Big Band version" of the song on Side A and an "Acoustic version" on Side B.[3]

The song was a Top 40 hit in Canada,[4] the Netherlands,[5] and on the US Billboard charts.[6] The "Big Band version" was later included on the 1978 album Masterpieces, released in Japan and Australia. Both versions were available on iTunes as part of Bob Dylan: The Collection.[7] This package was removed from iTunes in December of 2009. The acoustic version is available on the Side Tracks double album, included in the box set Bob Dylan - The Complete Album Collection Vol.1, released in 2013.

Considered within the chronology of Dylan's work, the song "George Jackson" is of special significance, because, along with the single "Watching the River Flow," it represents the only wholly new work to appear from Dylan in the years 1971-72, the period between the albums New Morning (1970) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973). From the time of the appearance of his first album in 1962 until the 1990s, this was the longest period that Dylan went without releasing an album of new material (although he made several new recordings of older songs to be released for the first time in a Dylan performance on 1971's Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II). Along with the speed with which the song was written, recorded and released following the death of Jackson, its appearance in an otherwise creatively fallow period (an outlook described in the lyrics of "Watching the River Flow"[8]) suggests that Dylan was strongly motivated by this subject.

The song was covered by Steel Pulse on their 2004 album, African Holocaust; the album which also included an updated version of their own song 'Uncle George', which was also in tribute to George Jackson.


Big Band Version:

Acoustic Version:

  • Bob Dylan (guitar, harmonica, vocal)[9]


Chart (1971) Peak
Canadian RPM Singles Chart 22[4]
Dutch Single Top 100 11[5]
US Billboard Hot 100 33[6]


  1. ^ Heylin 2009, pp. 514–517
  2. ^ "Still On the Road (the Bob Dylan Recording Sessions)" 1971
  3. ^ "Searching for a Gem (rarities): Audio: 1971 - George Jackson"
  4. ^ a b Top Singles - Volume 16, No. 21–22, January 15, 1972
  5. ^ a b Bob Dylan – George Jackson (GfK Dutch Charts)
  6. ^ a b Bob Dylan: Awards
  7. ^ opens iTunes page
  8. ^ |"Watching the River Flow" lyrics at
  9. ^ "Still On the Road (the Bob Dylan Recording Sessions)" 1971