Monday, April 23, 2007

Favorite Son

   Saturday, the Weaver and I attended a museum exhibit about Bob Dylan, the "Bard of Hibbing". It covered the years 1956-1966, from Bob's very earliest musical efforts up to his Blonde on Blonde album and his motorcycle crash.

   The show, originally put together by the Experience Music Foundation in Seattle, had been augmented by local artists, friends and relatives. These homey touches- Bob's yearbook was there (his ambition after graduation was "to join Little Richard") some items about the "neighborhood" Bob frequented when he lived in Minneapolis, and vintage photos and memorabilia of the venues and performers he knew. Anyone who has been involved with the music scene here is well aware of the shadow Mr. Dylan casts over all of popular music in the last 45 years, his local connections have not been forgotten- there are numerous stories about Bob spending time in Minnesota (he has a farm about 40 miles northwest of town), and he has spent time "hanging" with local musicians (he even patronized consignment shops), he recorded half of "Blood On The Tracks" here, as well as writing many of his songs while at the farm.

   But Bob Dylan is really all about the songs. After seeing a wall with the cover records of Blowin' In the Wind by 100 different artists (including Marlene Deitrich!) one starts to get an impression of the mark he has left. The fact that his newer songs are being covered as well, in a variety of genres, speaks volumes about his longevity. His musical "godfathers"- Jimmie Rodgers, Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams, all had relatively short careers. Bob's longevity means that we can hear not only his songs of youthful vitality, but also songs from his maturity and even his seniority.

   Bob has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature; the only Minnesotan to ever win that prestigious award has been Sinclair Lewis- who also came from a small Minnesota town. Bob would be in good company.

   After the Exhibit, we walked over to "Dinkytown" on Positively 4th Street and ate lunch in a building that once was a drug store and had been "remodeled" to look as if it had suffered an explosion of some sort- it was open to the rafters, the outside walls were showing between "artfully" exposed lath and additional random brickwork placed gave the entire enterprise a decidedly theatrical effect. Also visible, on what would be the second and third floors, were the original windows, one of which had been in a small room that Bob rented when he was first starting his career; $30 a month, a mattress and a hotplate- with the window's ledge acting as a refrigerator in the winter.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Móðir, kona, meyja said...

I read " and even his senility."

I should have my eyesight checked.

Blogger lab munkay said...

My aunt Tillie whent to teachers school with his mum. Tillie and his mom stayed friends and hung out and exchanged letters and pictures of their family's till Tillie died.

Blogger Darien Fisher-Duke said...

Totally cool, PB. My two top music gods are Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. As you know, I was "muscle" at the recent Clapton concert. I haven't had the pleasure of working security for Dylan--yet.

So tell us more about Dylan being nominated for a Nobel? That's news to me!

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Kristín- that'll be his next album?

Munkay- how neat is that! One of my co-workers had a college class that had Bob's mom speak on several occasions- maybe there should be a biography of her?

Rose- this comes up almost every year since 1996. Check out this article for more details, including a Virginia connection.

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