Saturday, October 15, 2016

25-Year Fan Shares How Dylan and Highway 61 Revisited Helped Her Through

This past month John Bushey, host of the KUMD radio program Highway 61 Revisited, began inviting people to the KUMD studios to interview for a series of shows promoting tonight's 25th Anniversary celebration of the show. As a regular listener and member of the Bob Dylan Way committee that puts on the annual Duluth Dylan Fest, I was invited to the UMD campus to tell my story and pick a song from the Dylan archives. While there I met Phoebe Smith and had a chance to hear her story. Upon hearing, I knew I wanted to share it.

There have been a lot of great stories told on the air these past few weeks. As a regular listener I found each one moving. Thank you John for these 25 years of sharing these 25 years of often rare versions of Dylan's music, and for sharing your listeners' stories this past month. And thank you Phoebe, for contributing your story here.

EN: How did you become a fan of Dylan's music?

Phoebe Smith: First I would like to preface this, Ed, by thanking you for promoting John Bushey's 25th radio show anniversary. I was in the 8th grade when John Bushey and my father Moses Smith were talking about his radio show. John and my dad met because they both worked in ISD 709 the Duluth school system. We were all on a yellow school bus every morning for an American Indian summer science camp. John is an educator and was married at the time to the woman running the camp. My father worked in the Indian Education department. I was there because I was a mentor for the Native American summer science (NASS) camp students.

John asked my dad if he ever listened to Bob Dylan and my father answered not really. There was one song my father identified with and that was Hurricane. Dad became fascinated with John's stories about this new radio show he'd just begun doing. I listened to them talking about other music as well.

I started listening to the show during card games in 1991. I listened to Highway 61 Revisited online when I lived out of state.

I've been to a number of concerts over the years. My eldest child has gone to a few shows with me, too. My youngest isn't old enough to go yet.

I love the music and seemed to get it at a young age. It's hard to explain adequately how as a younger person I understood the complexity of the emotions expressed and experienced in the songs. As with any music it's about how you relate with it.

I'm a radio dee-jay, for both commercial and public radio stations in two states, for over 20 years. Music has been instrumental in my everyday life as far back as I can remember. I experienced many genres of music from American Indian powwow music and a cross sector of modern mainstream music. Somewhere in the mix of melodic sounds coming from my home, car, and earbuds Bob Dylan's music rose to the top of my list.

EN: You told a story of how Dylan's music got you through a rough patch in your life. Can you elaborate on this?

PS: I suspect that everyone has bad times and good. My story isn't much different but like I've said my life has naturally had music incorporated into it. I will give an example; there was a time when I had gotten into a disagreement with an ex boyfriend and was left 30 miles out of town. I walked to my former home in Missoula, Montana where I had been living at the time. It took what seemed like forever to get there and I sang most of Dylan's musical catalog as I walked. It's funny to look back on it now but I suppose that is one fine example. The music helped me keep up the pace as I walked.

EN: Did you say you've been listening to John Bushey's show from the beginning? How did you discover the show and what is it that keeps you coming back for more

PS: I have been listening since 1991 and glad that I found it. I would listen online when I was homesick, living or traveling elsewhere in the United States before I boomeranged home to Duluth. I am very thankful to have met John Bushey. I continue to listen to the show for all of the live Bob Dylan music. I am happy and honored to have witnessed all 25 years of KUMD's Highway 61 Revisited with your host John Bushey.  

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Tonight's party will be at The Rex, downstairs in the Fitgers complex. If you come, you'll meet a lot of interesting people, many who are here from out of town for this occasion. The music will be great, including Cowboy Angel Blue, the Freewheelers and some special guests including Magic Marc Percansky as Master of Ceremonies. John Bushey is being honored with a mayoral proclamation for his 25 years as a radio magician weaving together so many fabulous shows without remuneration. (Yes, it's a labor of love.) John "followed his bliss" and as a result enriched a multitude.

Oh, and yes, we will be honoring Mr. Dylan, too, for his latest achievement, the Nobel Prize for Literature. Will you join us?

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