Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dylan Notes from the AAMC and Three Predictions About Tonight's Show

As is well-known here, Duluth is Bob Dylan's birthplace and a city he often visited while growing up in Hibbing where his family moved when he was age six. What follows are some references to this connection between Dylan and our city on a hillside that he references in "Something There Is About You" from Planet Waves. "Rainy days on the Great Lakes, walkin' the hills of old Duluth."

Duluth's Armory Arts & Music Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to renovating this city's historic Armory. Here are some notes they shared with me about why Dylan's performance tonight has the air of a homecoming for many.

BOB DYLAN’S DULUTH TOUR

“I’d grown up there in Hibbing but had been born in Duluth, about seventy-five miles away to the east on the edge of Lake Superior, the big lake that the Indians call Gitche Gumee….What I recall mostly about Duluth are the slate gray skies and the mysterious foghorns, violent storms that always seemed to be coming straight at you and merciless howling winds off the big black mysterious lake with treacherous ten-foot waves. People said that having to go out onto the deep water was like a death sentence. Most of Duluth was on a slant. Nothing is level there. The town is built on the side of a steep hill, and you’re always either hiking up or down.” Chronicles vol. 1, pgs. 229-30

Historic Armory today.
“I ask Dylan if he minds people visiting Hibbing or Duluth or Minneapolis searching for the root of his talent. ‘Not at all,’ he surprisingly says….As for Duluth, where his grandparents lived, he thinks it’s one of the country’s forgotten gems. ‘You’ll never see another town like Duluth,’ he says. ‘It’s not a tourist destination, but it probably should be. Depends what season you’re in there, though. There are only two seasons: damp and cold. I like the way the hills tumble to the waterfront and the way the wind blows around the grain elevators. The train yards go on forever, too. It’s old-age industrial, that’s what it is. You’ll see it from the top of the hill for miles and miles before you get there. You won’t believe your eyes. I’ll give you a medal if you get out alive.’…Dylan is so down-home that he considers the boondocks of Hibbing-Duluth to be far grander than Paris.” ~“Bob Dylan’s America” by Douglas Brinkley, “Rolling Stone”, May 14, 2009

Where the stars have been.
Historic Duluth Armory—13th Av. E. and London Rd. (historic US Hwy. 61) “When I was about 16 or 17 years old, I went to hear Buddy Holly play at the Duluth National Guard Armory, and I was three feet away from him, and he looked at me and,…I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way.” ~Bob Dylan accepting the 1998 Grammy for “Time Out of Mind”, Album of the Year

“Buddy was royalty, and I felt like…was my connection to it, to the rock-and-roll music that I’d played earlier, to that spirit.” ~Chronicles vol. 1, pg. 277

“Sometimes on the road Dylan stops by the homes or graves of musicians he admires….He’s made pilgrimages in Texas to search out Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison.” ~“Bob Dylan’s America” by Douglas Brinkley, “Rolling Stone”, May 14, 2009

Historic US Highway 61—London Road, Superior Street “Highway 61, the main thoroughfare of the country blues, begins about where I came from…Duluth to be exact. I always felt like I’d started on it, always had been on it and could go anywhere from it, even down into the deep Delta country.” ~Chronicles vol.1, pg. 240

Leif Erickson Park and statue—London Rd., across from Armory, and down to Lakewalk level “One time my parents took me to see Harry Truman speak at a political rally in Duluth’s Leif Erickson Park. Leif Erickson was a Viking who was supposed to have come to this part of country way before the Pilgrims…. ~Chronicles vol. 1, pg. 230

Former home of Louie Kemp—3700 London Road. Dylan visited and stayed there many times over the years that his old friend owned the house.

Dylan’s childhood house—519 North Third Avenue East. Dylan and his family lived in the second floor flat until they moved to Hibbing when Dylan was six years old.

Nettleton Elementary School—First Av. E. and Sixth Street. Dylan attended school here until moving to Hibbing.

St. Mary’s Hospital—407 E. Third Street. Dylan was born here May 24, 1941 (Robert Zimmerman)

Predictions for This Evening's Concert
1. Bob will open tonight's show with "Things Have Changed".
2. Bob will not play trombone during "All Along the Watchtower".
3. Because his son Jakob is performing with The Wallflowers tonight in the Twin Cities, he will not join his dad onstage during the encore Ballad of a Thin Man. (But since Bob is in St. Paul tomorrow evening, anything is possible there.)

I'll see you there.

Photo credits: Bottom two Armory shots, Nelson French. Top right photo of my Dylan Memorabilia collage by Andrew Perfetti.

No comments: