George Jackson (song)

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"George Jackson"
George Jackson Single Cover.jpg
Sleeve cover for the West German release of the single "George Jackson." The photo used is from The Concert for Bangladesh
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Masterpieces
A-side"George Jackson (Big Band version)"
B-side"George Jackson (Acoustic version)"
ReleasedNovember 12, 1971
RecordedNovember 4, 1971
StudioColumbia Studio B, New York City
GenreRock, folk, protest song
Length5:38 (Big Band version) / 3:37 (Acoustic version)
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan discography singles 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 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.

Cover version[edit]

The song was recorded 33 years later 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[2]


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



  • "Bob Dylan: Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  • "Bob Dylan – George Jackson" (in Dutch). GfK Dutch Charts. Archived from the original on 2013-03-10. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  • Heylin, Clinton (2009). Revolution In The Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, Volume One: 1957–73 (2010 paperback ed.). Constable. ISBN 1-84901-296-2.
  • "Top Singles – Volume 16, No. 21–22, January 15, 1972". RPM. 1971-08-21. Retrieved 2012-08-12.