"Oxford Town" is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1962. It was recorded in Columbia's Studio A on December 6, 1962 for his second album, THE FREEWHEELIN' BOB DYLAN.
The song was composed in response to an open invitation from Broadside magazine for songs about one of the top news events of 1962: the enrollment of a black student, James Meredith, in the University of Mississippi on October 1. Among other submissions was Phil Ochs' song "Ballad of Oxford, Mississippi". The lyrics and music from Dylan's song were printed December 1962 in Broadside's issue #17.
Except that the University of Mississippi is located in Oxford, Mississippi, "Oxford Town" does not mention either Meredith or the university by name. Later, in an interview with Studs Terkel, Dylan said, "It deals with the Meredith case, but then again it doesn't... I wrote that when it happened, and I could have written that yesterday. It's still the same. 'Why doesn't somebody investigate soon' that's a verse in the song."
Besides the FREEWHEELIN' release, Dylan recorded a version of "Oxford Town" for Broadside Sessions in November 1962. He also recorded a demo of the song for his music publisher M. Witmark & Sons in March 1963. This version was released in October 2010 on THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 9 - THE WITMARK DEMOS: 1962-1964.
Part of the Exact and Accurate Transcripts Series.
France, 1965, Société Internationale de Musique. French version by Hugues Aufray. French lyrics by Hugues Aufray and Pierre Delanoë. Released on AUFRAY CHANTE DYLAN (1965).