Exhuming Bob VIII The Walls Of Red Wing

April 10, 2008

 

Exhuming Bob

VIII

The Walls Of Red Wing

 

1.

Bob And The Radio

 

Haunted By Old Memories

     It seems like most of Bob’s biographers are English.  This poses certain problems as they try to write about things that they are not familiar with.  Radio and music are two of them.

     As regards the two it is very important to fix Bob’s age in the years of the fifties.  He graduated high school in the last year of the fifties- 1959- at the age of eighteen.  That means he began high school in 1957.  That also means he attended Junior High from 1953 to 1956.  Born in 1941 that means he was twelve in 1953.

     There was no Rock and Roll in 1953 especially in Hibbing.  It takes a lot of years for modern times to penetrate such outposts.  I am three years older than Bob.  My birthdate is two days after Bob’s so when he had just urned 12 I had just turned 15.  My brother is the same age as Bob.  The first true Rock and Roll song I remember was Bill Haley And The Comets.  Shake, Rattle And Roll was OK but Rock Around The Clock was thin for me.   Haley was pioneering but unsatisfying.

     Things stayed that way pretty much until 1955 when RnR broke loose.  Now, I was probably as much into records as Bob was.  The town in mid-State Michigan that I grew up in was probably not too different from Hibbing although larger.  Like Bob I went to an all White high school.

     The only records I heard before Rock that were interesting were Hillbilly records after 1954 called Country and Western.  They became ashamed of Hillbilly and wanted to dignify the genre.  Country which is apparently thought to have a great deal more dignity than Hillbilly became the first half and Cowboy songs where dignified by Western becoming the second half.   Wolfman Jack speaking of his station in the area around Shreveport said that they played both kinds of music- Country and Western.  There is a rather sharp division there for those who have the eyes to see it.

     Things stayed that way for me pretty much until 1955 when RnR broke loose.  That was probably Elvis doing Heartbreak Hotel which played John to the Jesus of Be-bop-a-lula by Gene Vincent.  Vincent faded quickly but Be-bop-a-lula strikes me as the actual birth of teenage rock and roll.  It was backed by Woman Love which was even as great as the A side.  Actually I think it was intended as the A side but the B side became the hit.

     I didn’t really get into records until about 1955, mainly because there weren’t any records that merited getting into.  I was then a Junior which put Bob in the eighth grade.  If he says he was listening to all those downstream radio stations in eighth grade maybe he was but I tend to doubt it.  That seems a little early but, may be.

     Now the early to mid-fifties was a time of real diversity in pop music.  Not only diverse but the hostility of not only old people but half of my class toward rock and roll was quite pronounced.  Everything was done so suppress ‘moron’ or ‘pimple’ music.  Ministers proclaimed it the devil’s music and a Communist plot.  Might have been something to both charges but if there was it made no difference to me.  And there really wasn’t much of rock and roll until late ’55 early ’56.

     Big Band was still tailing off.  The Dorseys had a big hit with the swing song So Rare as Rock took off.  The male quartet, Four Lads, Crew Cuts, Hi Los were very popular, lots of big hits.  Mitch Miller produced many excellent folk flavored records- The Bowery Grenadiers, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.  Hank Williams songs were crossing over into pop performed by guys like Guy Mitchell.  Even Marty Robbins, country itself, scored with A White Sport Coat And A Pink Carnation.  Heylin may make fun of ‘Poor People Of Paris’ and songs of that ilk but they were at least equally as popular as RnR.  Jim Lowe’s Green Door.  Couldn’t be better.  After all Pat Boone ran neck and neck with Elvis for a number of years.  No kid at the time would have turned up his nose at such songs. Napoleon XIV  They’re Taking Me Away, Ha Ha.  Leroy Anderson has always been a favorite of mine- Syncopated Clock and others.

     Of course in late ’55 and into ’56 Black ‘pop’ acts like Bill Doggett, Little Richard and Fats Domino -Chuch Berry- began to score.  I recently bought a book by Cousin Brucie the New York Jock of the era; I never even heard of half his so-called classics.  Where I was and where Bob was we never heard any real Black music nor would I , for instance, have listened to it.  I tuned into Detroit Black stations a couple times and tuned out just as quickly.  To put it politely, it was foreign sounding. Chicago was another country.  So whatever Brucie and Alan Freed thought they were doing they were doing it in a major metropolitan area.  It never reached the hinterlands.  There was stuff that never even reached New York City.  I’ve heard it and know why.

     Bob and his family got a TV in 1951.  That was kind of early but then his dad ran an appliance store.  We only got our TV in 1954 so TV made an impact on me but more negligibly than on Bob.  I was surprised that Bob doesn’t ever mention Dick Clark and his American Bandstand which should have been very influential in the life of Junior high kids in ’55 and ’56.  High schoolers in ’57, ’58.

     It should also be pointed out that there was little programming for TV in those years and fewer channels.  For instance in Oakland, California where I was in 1958 there were only two of the three major networks on TV and there was barely enough advertising to support them.

     If more than two channels could be pulled in in Hibbing I would be surprised.  One of them carried Ed Sullivan because Bob saw Johnnie Ray on the Ed Sullivan show in ’53 or ’54.  Heylin is mistaken in calling Bob on that one thinking Dylan could possibly confuse Johnnie Ray with Johnnie Ace.

      Johnny Ray’s act was as outre as they come.  It was so astonishing one could only gawk.  All the other singers at the time tried to be sophisticated, cool, or whatever you want to call it.  Ray was so emotionally unrestrained that he was psychotic.  His song was ‘Cry.’  ‘When you sweetheart sends you a letter of goodbye, you’ll feel better if you let your hair down and cry-y-y.’  And Ray did just that right there on Ed Sullivan’s stage.  He sobbed and moaned, leant over backwards until he doubled up then fell on the stage floor and sobbed from there.  J. Geils went even crazier but by that time it was old hat.  When Ray did it the first time your eyes just popped, you stopped breathing, looked around the room in wonder and pointed silently at the screen.  That’s what Bob remembers.  It was not Johnny Ace.

     So that’s an approximation of the musical background we grew up with.  Bob was picking this up three years before me at the same time.  As a punk kid I can’t gauge his reactions accurately.  If I’d known him at the time I would have thought he was a little moron.  That was what I thought of my brother, a totally out of it kid, it didn’t matter what he liked or didn’t like.

     We were all, those of us record literate, dissatisfied with our local radio stations.  I don’t know if I was really dissatisfied but I knew or heard that there was more out there.  Duluth was about the same size as my town so there would have been several local stations for Bob including Hibbing’s sole radio station.  But, they would have been nothing compared to the down river mega blasters.

     For the benefit of English readers the area between the Rockies and the Appalachians called the Mississippi Valley is an enormous flat area fifteen hundred miles wide by fifteen hundred miles long, give or take a mile.  That means that a radio signal can travel unimpeded if it is non-direction over the whole expanse.  After six o’ clock in the evening in those days a lot of stations shut down so there was less interference for the 24 hour stations.  There was only one non-directional mega blaster tha I know of and that was XERB in Del Rio, Texas.  The studio was in Del Rio but the transmitter was across the Rio Grande in Mexico.  Mexico didn’t regulate it’s stations so their wattage was unbelievable.  At the time Wolfman Jack began his career they were blasting 250,000 non directional watts from across the river from Del Rio.  Since I presume any readers are interested in this sort of thing Wolfman Jack does a fabulous telling of the history of XERB from ‘Goat Glands’ Brinkley to the present in his no less fabulous autobiography.  The Wolfman’s slipped by unnoticed but it is well worth seeking out.

     Strangely to my ear Bob is never mentioned in the same breath as Del Rio.  XERB must have come in clear as a bell straight up river to Hibbing.

     Bob merely talks about Shreveport, the home of the Louisiana Hayride.  This is also the area that the Wolfman got his start.  I believe he talks about Gatemouth and that he patterned his act on his.  I could get Shreveport but I didn’t like it as well.  Besides I was probably off to the side of the signal and it didn’t  come in as well.  I listened mainly to Del Rio, Wheeling, West Virginia, Waterloo, Iowa and WCKY Cincinatti, Ohio.  C for Cincinatti and KY for Kentucky just across that particular river.  Those were all pure country stations especially Wheeling.  If Bob didn’t get them they may have been directional off his band.

     At any rate for all his talk of listening to Black music when people mention items in his record collection they’re usually country.  Webb Pierce was of course tops.  Bob also listened to a fair amount of Hank Snow.  He owned Hank Snow Sings Jimmie Rodgers but he doesn’t seem to have had any of Rodgers records themselves.  He apparently listened to those over at Echo’s.  Rodgers requires a certain taste but if you have it he can’t be beat.

     My impression from listening to Bob is that he had a lot stronger country background than Rhythm and Blues.  I can’t believe there was too much R&B up there on the Iron Range.

     And then he got those Leadbelly records for his graduation.  Heylin may think it was spelled Lead Belly but I never heard that anywhere but in Heylin’s biography of Bob.  Bob and I must have heard Leadbelly together for the first time in different places.  Just for background I was in San Francisco in ’59 in the Navy.  There was a record store down on Market St. specializing in Folk, Blues and Jazz.  Some really obscure stuff.  Don’t know how he sold enough to stay in business.  Didn’t actually, when I went back the store was gone. 

     That was where I was introduced to groups like the New Lost City Ramblers and Bob Gibson and people like that and of course Leadbelly.  Leadbelly was already legendary to me perhaps from Seeger and the Weavers.  Huddie Ledbetter, his real name, was the most godawful stuff I ever heard up until that time.  Since then, of course,…but why go into it.  The songs were transcribed from worn out 78s onto a 10″ LP and not only was there nothing but noise but even with sound quality it would have been just hideous moaning.  Bucklen was right; it wasn’t great, it was only OK.  It always amazed me that people who wouldn’t listen to Hillbilly because it was ignorant would go gaga over stuff like Leadbelly.

      So, anyway, that was pretty much Bob’s musical background until he showed up at U. Minnesota.

2.

Bob’s Social Status

     It is necessary to reconstruct to some extent Bob’s social status and his relationship to Echo Helstrom.  Bob has a very deep seated psychotic reaction to his childhood in Hibbing.  It is something that almost seems to grow with time.  He had a real sense of rejection.  This is not an uncommon situation of course but Bob had the uncommon talent to impose his psychosis on the world, a psychosis he has never been able to resolve.

     This pyschosis is a difficult thing to work out.  I have to combine my thinking here with an email correspondent whose initials are RM.  The complete file of correspondence which is more than two hundred pages long can be found on the Lipstick Traces Part IX post on I, Dynamo if you want to read through it.  RM has a real stream of consciousness writing style but she is extremely well read in the area of Dylan and Presley while having very good ideas.

     The work is a matching of known details as reported by the biographers and an analysis of the lyrics of Dylan’s songs.  The biographers seldom agree on the exact details while Heylin and Sounes seem to borrow extensively from Scaduto and Shelton.  The general outline seems to be clear.

     Bob”s early childhood seems to have been relatively happy but then the turning point in his life seems to have been his Bar Mitzvah.  Rather this is so or not by the age of fifteen his sense of rejection and resentment had been firmly established in his mind.

     Much is made of the so-called ‘anti-Semitism’ in Hibbing and its few Jews.  Actually Hibbing had a fairly large Jewish population for its size and they were very influential.  Nadine Epstein and Rebecca Frankel wrote an article for Moment Magazine, August 2005, titled:  Bob Dylan; The Unauthorized Spiritual Biography.  Moment is a Jewish magazine that doesn’t publish online so you’ll have to go to the library to download a copy of the article if you want it. 

     The two authors describe Hibbing thusly:

     Hibbing’s downtown stands as a monument to its once vibrant Jewish community.  “Every single store except for the J.C. Penney’s was owned by Jews,” recalls Neil Scwartz, 53, who grew up in Hibbing and is now a cantor in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  A glance at the 1942 Hibbing City Directory confirms this observation:  Hyman Bloom owned the Boston Department Store, Jacob Jowolsky operated Hibbing Auto Wrecking, Nathan Nides owned Nides Fashion Shop, sold insurance and lent money.  The first Avenue Market was owned by David M. Shapiro, Jack and Israel Sher ran the Insurance Service Agency and Louis Stein was the proprietor of Stein’s Drug Store.  The Edelstein- Stones owned a string of movie palaces, including the local drive-in and the Lybba Theater on Howard Street, named after Bob Dylan’s maternal great-grandmother Lybba Edelstein, who came to the United States from Lituania in 1902.

———-

     By the 1970s, most of these businesses were gone.  “When the mine closed and the miners lost their jobs, people were forced to move, and so the Jews who owned the stores lost their customers,” says Steve Jowolsky, 45.  One of the handful of Jews remaining in Hibbing.  Jowolsky runs his family’s scrap yard.

     So Bob grew up in a town perhaps divided by a religious and social barrier.  The Jews who owned the businesses and the goys who patronized them may have been resentful.  There must have been inevitable conflicts which is probably why Bob didn’t like to be identified as a Jew.

     The critical point is that after his Bar Mitzvah at thirteen for the next four years he attended a Zionist summer camp- Camp Herzl in Webster, Wisconsin.  The Camp was and is a large 120 acre summer camp.  There  it seems that the Jewish youth of Minnesota and, actually from around the country and world, met and became acquainted so that Bob had extensive Jewish connections in Minneapolis-St. Paul the home of U. Minnesota.

     There is some mystery concerning Bob’s Bar Mitzvah.  For non-Jews, a Bar Mitzvah is a coming of age ceremony for men.  If you’ve read your Golden Bough by J.G. Frazer you’ll know that when a boy was young he passed his time with his mother and the girls but when passing into puberty he was taken from the women by the men and underwent a born again ceremony to become a man going to live with the men.  An example Frazer uses is that of passing through a rolled up cowhide symbolizing rebirth as a man.  The story of Achilles in the women’s quarters is a coming of age of ‘Bar Mitzvah’ story.

     In Bob’s case it is said that as there was no Rabbi on the Iron Range a Rabbi was brought in from Brooklyn specifically to give Bob a crash course in Judaism for his Bar Mitzvah.  The mission having been accomplished the Rabbi was put back on the bus for Brooklyn.

     This is a strange story.  Shelton tells us that there was a synogogue and Rabbi in Hibbing while Duluth with a fairly large Jewish population had four.  Certainly the several dozen Jewish families in Hibbing educated their sons for Bar Mitzvahs without resorting to each individual parent bringing in a Rabbi from Brooklyn, New York.

     If the Rabbi was actually brought in then something else was going on.

     Now, Bob’s Jewish name is Sabtai, that is he was named after Sabatai Zevi the last great Jewish Messiah.  This says something about Abraham Zimmerman’s state of mind.  A sect was founded on Zevi’s death in the seventeenth century that flourished as a signficant portion of Judaism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and continues to this day.  Freud was of this particular Jewish persuasion.  So must have been Abe Zimmerman.

     If the story is true then the reason for rejecting the local and Duluth Rabbis must have been the the Sabbatian or Frankist  Rabbi was essential to Abe Zimmerman’s conception of the religious education he wanted his boy Bob to have.  The sect was centered in Brooklyn.  Thus Bob’s adolescent and pubertal mind was clouded at thirteen with a concentrated infusion of Sabbatian-Frankist, possibly Lubavitcher, lore.  Bob was now well on his way to his fabled ‘mixed up confusion.’  He had to reconcile extreme fundamentalist Jewish religion with a Country and Western goi outlook.  This is what makes the guy really interesting.

     Then on top of his Frankist crap he began to spend several weeks at the Zionist Camp Herzl.  I interpret several to mean four to six, so that would be a large chunk of the summer separating him from the social life of Hibbing.  Obviously his father wanted to immerse him in some fairly intense Jewish nationalism and religion.  Theodore Herzl is of course the originator of Zionism which is a nationalist Jewish movement.

     Bob attended four consecutive summers beginning in 1953.  No person is independent of their environment.  The Jews had become very distraught as a people after WWII.  For some reason they projected Nazism on Americans and were very fearful that Americans were going to create an Auschwitz for them here.  When McCarran built camps in 1953 for a possible Communist roundup the Jews felt sure it was for them.  By coincidence Bob began attending Camp Herzl in that year.

     As an example of the Jewish paranoia William Paley who owned CBS was so fearful that an attempt at extermination was near that he devised a plan to ‘save’ as many Jewish performers as he could.  Thus he incorporated a number of Jewish musical and comedy stars as businesses and sold shares in  their careers to prominent gois.   TV emerged shortly after the war thus for ten years or so there was a long parade of Jewish performers down to Red Buttons who were given TV shows to provide a return for their investors thus ‘securing the lives’ of the performers.  Jack Benny was a difficult act for them to program but once they did he amply rewarded his investors who had bought into him.  I believe Benny was the last of the packages.  So for all those years the performers were merely on salary when they could have been raking in the coin less the paranoia.

     So that is the Jewish environment Bob was living in   I am not Jewish but my wife is.  Growing up in the fifties she was indoctrinated in the notion that everyone hated the Jews and were out to kill them.  This affected her psychology profoundly but her reasoning was why woud anyone want to be something everyone hated when you didn’t have to be.  She consequently rejected religion entirely, so there was no religious incompatibility between us as I from my side also rejected religion.

     So Bob began his several week visit to Camp every summer in this environment.  They don’t show extermination camp movies on TV like they used to but you may be sure Bob was given a steady diet of them every summer.  Boy, they used to piss me off.

     Before his Bar Mitzvah it is said that he was a friendly outgoing guy but became withdrawn and solitary in his high school years.  I have little doubt that his religious training was responsible for it.  If his father considered himself somewhat of a Jewish scholar as represented by this Hasidic or whatever Rabbi from Brooklyn then this added to Bob’s feeling of separation from what is described as almost wholly a Catholic environment.  I would have felt stranger than he did.

     Thus, while Red Wing may have precipitated a crisis in his psychology it was merely the icing on the cake, the straw that broke the camel’s back, etc.

3.

Bob And Echo

          Bob entered high school in 1956 at tge age if 15,  At 15 he would have been fully aware.  Little Richard would have burst on him in ’55 when he was either 14 or 15.  Apparently Little Richard’s seeming lack of inhibitions made a tremendous impression on the already inhibited Bob.  Richard hit at about the same time as the movie Rebel Without A Cause.  The movie and its star, James Dean also blew Bob away.  He saw it several times.  He saw it at 14 I saw it at 17.  I loved the movie but I was unimpressed by Dean.  I saw the movie with a bunch of friends and while I was in awe they appeared to be in shock.  This was serious stuff.  Of course I fell in love with Natalie Wood while I was repelled by the bug-eyed Sal Mineo.

      What spoiled the movie for me was Dean himself.  It didn’t take me long to realize that he was an adult playing a ‘juvenile’ role.  In his most famous scene, rolling the milk bottle over his forehead and actually drinking out of the bottle offended my so much I can’t explain it.  He looked old there, at least 28, and he actually looked ancient in the scene in the police station.  I may be the only one that ever thought that though.

     Now, Heylin misunderstands the chicken or emasculation contest at the end of the  movie.  To set the scene properly America was just emerging from the Depression.  Parents were still virtually paralyzed by their memories of the pre-war years.  Teenagers were just beginning to be able to afford cars.  The gut was full on Saturday nights but most were driving the family car.

     For those that had cars the exhilaration was fantastic.  That was the golden age of customization.  Cars were lowered in the back, dual exhausts were put in, cars were souped up so that for a few years kids had cars that could outrun the stock models of the cops.  Wow!  Hey!   John Dillinger never had it so good. Pretty Boy Floyd would have thought he was in heaven.

     So, you’ve got the hot wheels and all that power so what do you do with it?  You invent the game of Chicken.  That Hollywood thing on the Pacific Palisades if it ever happened in real life was only possible because of the location on the Palisades. 

     The idea everywhere else was for two cars, two drivers to face each other from maybe three or four blocks away then floor the beast, accelerating all the way head on at each other.  The first guy to swerve lost and was the chicken.  Thoroughly emasculated.  Some guys chickened out early some didn’t.  I watched a few of these and thought I’d never seen such craziness.  I hadn’t up to that time, but since…

     So the idea in Rebel on the Palisades was not to jump out as close to the edge as possible which was so crazy some movie guy would have had to have invented it but to drive as close to the last stopping point as possible before hitting the brakes.  I mean, this was so stupid.  So the winner went well behond the stopping point and his car went over the cliff with him in it.   Who’s going to get into a chicken contest and try to jump out of a car going sixty or seventy miles an hour?  Kids are crazy but I hope there’s a limit.  Although, I don’t know, I once played Russian Roulette with a loaded gun.  Three rounds.  I don’t like to admit it but you can’t change history.

     So at this point Bob and Abe came into direct conflict.  If Abe couldn’t understand Dean you can imagine Little Richard’s effect on him.  So here his wonderful Hasidic Jewish kid is entering high school and flushing himself down the goi toilet.  The conflict must have been intense.  Apropos of parental conflict that was so intense it led to his disowning him.  I read somewhere that his mother Beattie was the model for Visions Of Johanna.  Bob’s own words but I can’t remember where I read it.

     So Bob began what appears to be the three most action packed years of his life.  Leaving the tenth grade shortly shortly after his sixteenth birthday Bob pestered his dad for a motorcycle now that he could get a license.  Not a scooter either but a big machine. Harley. No Hondas.  So at the incredibly young age of sixteen Bob got himself a big bike.  Bob’s dad must have been a very indulgent father.  You can ride a bike up on the Iron Range for only a few months a year.  Bob went to summer camp between 10th and 11th too so he really didn’t have much time to ride it.  But somewhere in there he met Echo Star Helstrom.

     Echo impresses me as a tough chickie from the other side of the tracks.  she apparently impressed others that way too.

     Scaduto quotes one Linda Fuller:

     Bob was considered one of the tough motorcycle crowd.  Always with the black leather jacket, the cigarette in the corner of his mouth, rather hoody.  And Echo with her bleached hair and vacant look; That’s mostly how I first noticed him, running around with this freaky girl hanging on the back of his motorcycle, with her frizzy white hair flying and her false eyelashes.  It was shocking to me.  I tried not to be narrow minded, but I thought that crowd was a bunch of creeps.  We used to laugh at the sight of them on the motorcycles.  They used to zip through town and it was funny to see them.

     The thing is motorcycles were taboo because motorcycle guys were automatically bad.  I had to stay away from them.  They were terrifying, Bob with his big boots and his tight pants.

     Then Echo chips in:

     (Bob) didn’t fit in with the bums.  I knew the real bums.  All my friends were the wrong-side-of-the-tracks people, the dropouts, and Bob didn’t fit in with them.  He didn’t fit in with anyone in town, really.

     So here we have the portrait of a Nowhere Man posing as a Bad Motorcycle, acting a screamer on stage but quiet and withdrawn in the classroom and school.  Almost a manic depressive.

     Without meaning to cast aspersions on Echo she was what we would have called ‘cheap’.  She knew the real bums, they were all her friends.  The Fugs could have written their song ‘Slum Goddess From The Lower East Side’ about her.

     When she first met Bob she said she thought he was a ‘goody goody.’  Must not have been on his bad motorcycle with those boots and tight fitting pants;  one of those directly opposite of ‘cheap’ or hoody, not one of the bums.  Echo would have seen Bob as ‘upper class’.  Echo was probably going to put Bob on.  That he went for her must have seemed too good to be true.

     Probably Bob moved in on her and meant to pick her up for a cheap thrill or whatever then found to his delight that the girl knew every rock, R&B and Country song in the catalog.  Bob wanted to impress her with his own musical chops so on their ‘first date’ they break and enter the Moose Lodge so Bob can cavort on the piano.  Didn’t even have to think about it, he flipped out a knife forced the lock and they were inside.  Easy as pie.  Must have done it a time or two before somewhere, don’t you think?  The story comes out in different variations in the biographers.  Either Bob or Echo sprung the lock with either his knife or her knife or she with her own knife.  In any case they both appear to be experienced housebreakers.  This is important.

     And now we have a minor problem.  Bob told Echo that he didn’t have an allowance so she ponied up for the hotdogs and cokes.  Yet at the same time Abe bought Bob a motorcycle that would have been expensive while requiring gas and lots of maintenance.  Bikes never run right.  Abe seemed to to give Bob enough money for that.  So through October or whenever the snow began flying Bob is driving Echo around with her frizzy bleached blonde hair blowing in the wind.

     None of the biographers handle the details of these years carefully so I am reconstructing and attempting to arrange the chronology to fit with the details in the time frame.

     Now, Abe and Beattie are watching the apple of their eye get wormy right before their eyes.  Neither Beattie nor Abe had any use for Echo.  Being respectable middle class people they were horrified that Bob was running around with such a cheap trick.  Abe was horrified to see his son ‘defiling’ himself.  At some point in Bob’s young life Abe told him that it was possible for a son to become so defiled his parents would reject him but possibly God would lead him back to the path of righteousness.  These are very strong words and Bob must have strayed from the path for Dad to have expressed himself to strongly.  But I don’t think he mentioned this fact to Bob just yet,  although Bob’s behavior would get worse.  So bad that it is not impossible that his dad may have essentially had him committed for psychiatric attention.

     According to Heylin Beattie did let out that Bob was ‘away’ for a couple months in the summer of ’59 that was a cause of intense embarrassment to her.  One report says that he was sent to a reform school or clinic in Philadelphia while another says that he spent the summer in the house of detention of Red Wing Reform school down on Highway ’61.  Highway ’61 revisited, you see.  As there are no references to psychiatric treatment in the songs I am going to pursue the Red Wing side of it of which there are many references and a clear paper trail in the songs. 

     As Bob entered the eleventh grade he and Echo were evidently quite serious or at least Echo thought they were.  At some point they committed themselves to going steady and Bob gave her his ID bracelet to wear.  ID bracelets were popular at this time.  I wore one for several months in my senior year, maybe even to the end, I can’t remember.  They were a little silver plaque with your name on it.  Kind of like a wrist watch without the watch.

     For what it was worth they talked of marriage even choosing babynames.  Given Bob’s later fecundity they should have chosen several.

     In the eleventh grade Bob also launched himself as a band with a somewhat mixed reception.  Well, it wasn’t really mixed, it was more a form of rejection.  He not only got booed for the first time, but laughed at.

     The question here is how did it affect his reputation in Hibbing.  If your fellow students laugh and boo your act that has to result in a certain amount of contempt in the halls.  People have to make snide comments.  So Bob really had to develop a thick skin.  This would have set him in good stead for his world tour a few years later.

     I smiled when in his autobiography he tells of how Ricky Nelson was booed when he tried to change his style.  He wryly commented that he and Ricky had something in common.  Hurt like hell though.

     And then comments must have been made to his parents.  Already sensitive about his relationship with Echo Abe and Beattie must have begun consulting friends for psychiatric recommendations.  People don’t understand; they didn’t understand me either but like Bob I ignored them and kep on bopping along.  Of course Abe and Beattie belonged to the sub-societal Jewish set also.  So they must have taken redoubled abuse from that quarter.  Synagogue must have been unbearable in those trying days.

     Nevertheless Bob was calling unfavorable attention to himself.  Not only was he ‘getting’ it from Echo through the eleventh grade but we are led to believe that he was succeeding quite well with numerous maidens with shelf like breasts.

      Always indiscreet Bob couldn’t conceal his activities from Echo.  Echo claims that she was faithful to Bob over this year long romance.  I can’t quite believe that of a girl who knew all the bad boys in town but she may actually have given Bob her heart.  Faithful or not this is a very serious situation for when you have given your heart to someone they have it with them and it’s not always that easy to get it back.

     That Echo was hurt to the quick is evident by the manner in which she broke off the engagement.  She chose to do it publicly by handing Bob back his bracelet in the halls at school.  Makes a boy shudder just to think of the ignominy.

     May have hurt Bob as much as anything in his life.

     However, and this is serious, Echo felt like a woman scorned.  Scorning  women is serious business which I know from experience.  I wouldn’t recommend it to boy or man, young or old.  They don’t leave the matter where you think they should and Echo was not going to be satisfied with merely humiliating Bob in school.  She didn’t get adequate satisfaction from that.

     Now we’re at the end of the eleventh grade.  According to the biographers Bob had been after Abe to get him a car.  Abe couldn’t resist his son.  Really, now, Bob had an affluent boyhood in addition to getting laid enough to be the envy of the school.  This guy did a lot better than I ever did on both counts.  If Bob expects sympathy from me for having a tough childhood he can forget it.

     Between eleventh and twelfth grades Bob had a car that he used to drive down to Minneapolis several times that summer.  In one account it was a ’50 Ford with the metal showing through the paint and according to Sounes it was a pink convertible.  No ’50 Ford was ever pink while anyone living in the Minnesota winters would have to be crazy to buy a convertible but I merely report what the biogrpahers say. 

     Cars are even more expensive than motorcycles.  Even if mileage was low and gas was cheap dollars were less plentiful back then.  Since Bob hasn’t done a lick of work yet Abe must have had an open handed attitude.  Wait a minute, it is said that Abe sent Bob out to repossess TVs  which must have been about this time.  Tough job.

     In fact Bob was costing Abe a lot of money.  The report is that Bob was riding down the street on his motorcycle and a kid ran into the street and bounced off the bike.  Must have given Bob the idea for his ‘accident’ a few years later.  Did he really have that famous fall from his bike?  I can’t say but I’m waiting for further developements before I make up my mind.

     If Bob was dangerous on a bike that was nothing compared to Bob in an automobile.   There are reports of more than one accident but the worst one cost Abe four thousand dollars to make good.  That one tested Abe’s notions of defilement.

     Four thousand dollars in 1958 was a chunk of money.  You could still buy paper back books for from twenty-five to fifty cents each that now cost 7.95 and 8.95.  Calculate four thousand dollars to that ratio.  In the Navy in the same year I was making two thousand dollars a year.  I was twenty-five years old before I topped four thousand dollars a year.

     So Abe forked over a sum.  Besides which Bob would definitely have been cited perhaps arraigned in court.  He may have been facing a jail sentence if Abe hadn’t bought the plaintiffs off.  Bob was becoming known at least as a wild man in the rather small Hibbing legal environment.

4.

The Chimes Of Freedom

But it’s hard lookin’ in and you can’t see out.

Dylan- Cold Irons Bound

     During the summer of ’58 when Bob was spending so much time down in Minneapolis doing god only knows what Echo was stewing home alone.  That was equivalent to being ignored and when you’re going steady.  Naturally a girl wants vengeance but the question was how to get it.  Echo would have known a lot more about Bob’s reputation in Hibbing than he did.  Bob may have been oblivious to the outside world paying attention only to what was going on inside his head.  The appearances are that he was probably thought of as a troublesome lad.  Proabably a lot of people would have liked to have seen him take a fall, go to jail.  I think it probable that Echo arranged that fall.

     It probably didn’t take much to get Bob to go around with her a bit in the Fall of ’58 so he would have thought that everything was alright and he’d gotten away with things.  The evidence from his songs that we’ll get to here in a bit is that Echo lured him into breaking and entering.  My surmise is that she had arranged for them to be caught and caught they were.

     As we know from the Moose Lodge Bob was an adept at breaking and entering.  One can’t say that he was suspected of other such breakins for sure but his reputation was such that he had to be taught a lesson.

     From appearances I would say that he was caught, tried and sentenced sometime in the late Winter of ’58-’59.  The question is when did he serve his sentence?

     My original thought as expressed here was in the Summer of ’59 but as he would then have been an adult of eighteen he would have been too old for Red Wing where the top age was seventeen.

     In Chronicles I Bob says he left home in early Spring of ’59.  Based on that slender hint I’m going to suggest that he was in Red Wing from Possibly March 25th 1959, released on his birthday of May 24th or the day before.

     Thus he was back in Hibbing in time for graduation.  His reluctance to attend the large party his parents got up may have been from shame just as the party may have been to welcome him back to acceptance.  His reluctance was overcome and he is said to have had a great time at the party.  So, awaiting further information I am inclined toward the last two months of his senior year.

     As we have seen Abram Zimmerman and his fellow Jews were powerful in the city so that it is possible that In order to let Bob  finish school his father may have pleaded with the Judge and he was allowed to serve perhaps a two month sentence in July and August of ’59 just before he began U. Minnesota.  His senior year was when he fell off the honor roll according to his mother.  It was probably at this time that a mortified Abe advised him that he could defile himself to the point that his parents would renounce him.

     After having extricated Bob from all previous difficulties so that Bob may have thought he was Bobby Teflon Bob may have held his father responsible for his having to do time at Red Wing.

     At any rate Bob graduated in June of ’59 collected his Leadbelly records, spent a couple two or three weeks as a busboy in Fargo then returned to do his time out on Highway 61.  This esay will stop at his possible release from Red Wing.  And now for the evidence from Bob’s songs to give credibility to the above scenario.

     The actual breaking and entering for which he was arrested and sentenced is recorded in his song The Chimes Of Freedom.  Bob had a way of clothing things in words that made common place events ethereal.  Chimes of Freedom is one of those.  The song seems to record the breakin in a stream of high flown metaphors.

     The first line:  Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll, means literally well after sundown that in Winter in Hibbing would probably be 3:30 in the afternoon and between midnight something happened late during that interval.  That’s pretty clear just confused by language.

     What happened was:  We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing.  In other words the ‘we’, who I asume to be Bob and Echo slipped the knife into the lock and sprung the door.  The excitement of the moment made each noise sound like thunder crashing.  In other words Bob is describing his psychological state of mind.

     Then he has the nonsense phrase ‘As majestic bells of bolts…’ That is literally meaningless but gives a sense of his heightened sensibilities.  ‘…struck shadows in the sounds seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing.’  more emotional tension and atmosphere.  This was a key moment in Bob’s life and he’s making the most of it.  Bob wrote this in ’63 or ’64 some four or five years after the incident.

     And then he goes into a flight of self-pity comparing himself and Echo to loners against the world.

Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight

Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight

An’ for each and every underdog soldier in the night

An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

      There you go.  That sounds heavy and coming from the speakers backed by the emotional wailing voice, howling harmonica and flailing driving guitar rhythm it sounded then and sounds now like there’s meaning there that isn’t transparent but in fact there isn’t any deep meaning.  Bob has just generalized his break in emotions.  One hears the tone of voice and listen to the music and gropes for what isn’t there.

     Bob goes on like this through six long verses as he milks the tale for all it’s worth.  Actually the first four lines of the second verse if you know the story are quite well done:

In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched

With faces hidden while the walls were tightening

As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain

Dissolved into the bells of the lightning

     In so many words he’s saying that the authorities are closing in and that he and Echo are about to be caught as the ‘walls close in.’  If he and she were attempting a reconciliation that ended as the wedding bells dissolved as the authorities arrested them- in other words, the lightning.

     And then four more lines of self-pity:

Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake

Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned and forsaked

Tolling for the outcast burnin’ constantly at the stake

     There’s a neat little description of Bob’s situation in Hibbing as he sees it.  Jim Stark the Rebel Without a Cause.  Bob obviously considered himself a rake.  Luckless is obvious and writing four years later he realized that he was abandoned and forsaken by Echo.  He ignores his own actions that led her to forsake him.  And then the eternal outcast burning at the stake.

     Another couple verses follow that go on in the same vein; then Bob comes to the climax of his story.

Starry eyed and laughing as I recall when we were caught

     Here Star reflects the Echo of the first verse and indentifies his companion as Echo Star Helstrom so that she would know he was talking to and about her.  This is for world wide consumption.  This is unimagined success, laying your complaint before the whole world.  But, Bob doesn’t explain that he and Echo were caught in the act of breaking and entering.

     So now he and Echo are apprehended by the authorities; caught in the act:

Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended

     So they became so involved in their crime- starry eyed and laughing- that they lost track of time.  Remember Charlie Starkweather and Carol had just committed their crimes a little to the West so the authorities would have been on edge.

As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look

Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended.

     Yes, now like Jim Stark of Rebel Without A Cause Bob is down at the jailhouse coming down.  He’s been busted and busted good.  His dad can’t get him off and the Judge gives him his time in Red Wing.  I imagine that his father may have negotiated terms that let Bob down as easy as possible such as allowing him to graduate and do his time in the summer or possibly an easier task of negotiating with the school to allow Bob to graduate.

     Echo apparently skated out of there but Bob for the rest of the year was a convicted criminal as the whole school sneered at him.  I don’t think there was any question that Bob was set up.  Echo was the agent but there must have been others involved or else they probably wouldn’t have been caught, unless Bob turned all the lights on.

     The crime created what seems to be an undissolvable bond between Bob and Echo.  R.M. has followed Bob’s career whereas I signed off at John Wesley Harding so she pointed out the 1997 song from Time Out Of Mind called Cold Irons Bound.  This song appears to be an ode to Echo and Hibbing.

     I would guiess that for the remainder of the school year she snubbed Bob refusing to acknowledge his existence.  Bob expreses this snubbing as a metaphor in Cold Irons Bound:

I went to church on Sunday and she passed me by

My love for her is taking such a long time to die

     And then Bob records his feelings fresh as green grass nearly forty years after as the cops drove him down Highway 61 to Red Wing.

In waist deep, waist deep in the mist

It’s almost like, almost like I don’t exist

I’m twenty miles out of town, in cold irons bound.

     Yep.  Echo got him good.  You can be sure she was standing out of sight when they put Bob into the car for the long drive down to Red Wing and relishing every moment of it.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  She might not be finished yet.  They wait and wait and plot and plot.

     My own corroborating experience that I have recorded in my novelette,  The Angeline Constellation on reprindle.wordpress.com, check it out if you’re interested, it’s a good story, 100 pages, confirms Bob’s.  I got off light at the time although I’m not anxious to give Ange a second chance. 

     Briefly the romance took place when I was in the tenth grade.  Ange other than making my life miserable in the background could find no opportunity, or if she did I’m unaware of it.  There is one incident in my life sort of like Bob’s that I’m not sure of but if she planned it it misfired and didn’t come off satisfactorily.

     But I went into the Navy in ’56 returning on leave in  the summer of ’57.  Ange was, if not waiting for me, quick on her feet.  I ran into a girl I had known right after Ange who Ange turned against me.  I saw her on leave and asked her out being haughtily, coldly and, dare I say, insultingly refused.  Well OK, no problem.  Then she must have mentioned that she saw me to Ange.  Ange came up with a plan immediately.  This girl then asked me to go to a party.  Well, after having been told what I could do with myself one would have thought I would have said:  No thanks.  I’ll never be that dumb again.

     I went to this party.  She insisted I wear my Navy uniform.  I don’t get that.  I was not allowed to escort her to the party but was to meet her there.  Yeah, well, I’m not so easy now.  Of course, I’m not so young either.

     At the party I was plied with booze.  I didn’t drink at the time.  I had never even had a bottle of beer.  So I got schnockered pretty quick.  I mean stumbling drunk.  The hostess kept pouring.  So Ange went to this woman who hosted the party and a number of her girl friends, I don’t remember any guys at this party, to set me up and be done.  Ange stayed out of sight until I was pretty drunk then she came out of the back of the house to gloat at my back.  She doesn’t know to this day that I knew she was there and I saw her.  But I did.

     Now drunk and sick it was time to leave.  I asked for a ride but was refused.  I asked for my hat but was again refused.  So there I was stumbling down the street a sailor without a hat, in undress.  You can be sure Ange was following my progress and laughing bitterly.  Bad enough but the next day it gave my stepfather, a drunk, with who I was on bad terms a chance to scorn me.  So four years later a scorned woman wreaked some revenge.  And that is the way it works.  Watch your step.

     You can bet that Echo stood gloating out of sight as they put Bob in the car and drove down the side of the gaping pit toward Highway 61 and Red Wing.  I believe that’s how Bob’s little drama may have worked out.

5.

He’s In The Jailhouse Now

 

I used to know a guy named Rambiin’ Bob,

Who used to steal, gamble and rob,

He thought he was the smartest guy around.

Well, I found out last Monday,

They arrested Bob last Sunday,

They got him down (on Highway 61) in the can.

He’s in the jailhouse now.

Immie Rodgers

     The question is was Robert A. Zimmerman ever at Red Wing Reformatory for Boys?  On the one hand we have the evidence of his songs and his actual statement to the NYC journalist Al Aronowitz that he did time at the prison.  On the other hand we have the claim of the Minnesota Department of Corrections that Bob Dylan never served time at Red Wing.  Of course Bob Dylan didn’t.  There was no Bob Dylan in existence in the Spring or Summer of ’59.

     The DOC however declines to say whether a Robert Allen Zimmerman did time.  And then there is the competing claim that Bob was under psychiatric care in Phildelphia at the same time.  Still no records.  There seem to be no references to this latter option in the songs so I do not consider it a viable option.

     Certainly the key piece of evidence is the song The Walls Of Redwing.  The song was first copyright in 1963 so it was possibly written in 1962 which would be roughly three years after the event.  Unlike the very heavy metaphors Bob uses elsewhere Walls was written in plain English as though the terror was still on him.

     There are those that say the song didn’t require direct experience to write, that it is just generalized stuff that could be filched from movies or whatever but both R.M. and I agree that the allusions are too personal, reflect actual experiences, than to be just a story.

     I’ll reproduce the lines here.  These are taken from the Bob Dylan website:

The Walls Of Red Wing

 

Oh, the age of the inmates

I remember quite freely,

No younger than twelve,

No older than seventeen.

Thrown in like bandits

And cast off like criminals

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

From the dirty old mess hall

You march to the brick wall,

Too weary to talk

And too tired to sing.

Oh, it’s all afternoon

You remember your hometown

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

Oh, the gates are cast iron

And the walls are barbed wire.

Stay far from the fence

With the ‘lectrified sting.

And It’s keep down your head

And stay in your number,

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red wing.

 

Oh, it’s fare thee well

To deep hollow dungeon,

Farewell to the boardwalk

That takes you to the screen.

And farewell to the minutes

They threaten you with it,

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

It’s many a guard

That stands around smilin’,

Holding his club

Like he was a king.

Hopin’ to get you

Behind a wood pilin’

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

The night aimed shadows

Through the cross bar windows,

And the wind punched hard

To make the wall siding sing.

It’s many a night I pretended to be sleepin’,

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

As the rain rattled heavy

On the bunk house shingles

And the sounds in the night,

They made my ears ring.

‘Til the keys of the guards

Clicked the tune of the morning,

Inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

 

Oh, some of us’ll end up

In St. Cloud Prison

And some of us’ll wind up

To be lawyers and things,

And some of us’ll stand up

To meet you on your crossroads,

From inside the walls,

The walls of Red Wing.

     Bob at eighteen would have been the oldest boy there so he could watch them more or less as an outsider.  Bob is obviously the one who is going to meet us at our crossroads where he intends to take his pound of flesh.  His whole career is one of wreaking vengeance on somebody.

     I’ve never been in prison but I have been in the Orphange and the Navy.  While not jails or prisons they are similar enough so that I have some understanding of the experience.  Altogether I spent five years out of my first twenty behind fences under the control of men and women but little different than prison guards.

     I know many of the things Bob is talking about and my understanding of the lyrics is that Bob was there and knows what he is talking about from first hand experience.

     I would never lie to a journalist about being in prison whose very job is to broadcast tidbits about celebrities.  Or maybe Bob would claim that it was only ‘hophead’ talk and not to be taken seriously.  If it were me I wouldn’t even let it be known I knew what hophead talk was.  Bob told so many tall stories he could compulsively slip in an occasional truth without expecting to be believed.  The difference is that none of the rest of the tall stories found their way into his songs.

     The song was so painful and personal that he never released it at the time.  It was eventually released in the Bootleg Series.  R.M. who has followed the playlists says that Bob only sang it in public one time.  That one time was in New York when had flown his parents out to a Carnegie Hall concert. However Mike Bloomfield who saw Bob in Chicago says he was singing the song that time.

     Remember that, if Abe had disowned him, Bob had disowned his parents.  He claimed in New York to be an orphan maintaining that dodge.  People were very surprised to learn that his parents were still alive.  So, with his parents in the audience, singing, one imagines directly to them, he recited the Walls Of Red Wing.  I don’t understand exactly why he held them responsible.  There are some things even a father in a small town can’t fix.  In looking over his career I don’t think Bob even knew the meaning of restraint.  He seems to have believed that whatever he wanted or wanted to do should never be denied.

     The effect of his being restrained and constrained in Red Wing was devastating to Bob’s mind.  And Red Wing was forever linked in Bob’s mind with Echo.  R.M. points to You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere written at Woodstock, copyrighted in 1967, as an example.  Two verses, the first and the second, are relatively clear:

Clouds so swift

Rain won’t lift

Gate won’t close

Railing’s froze

Get your mind off wintertime

You ain’t going nowhere.

Whooee ride me high

Tomorrow’s the day

My bride’s gonna come

Oh,oh are we gonna fly

Down in the easy chair.

     Incarcerated in July and August Bob’s thoughts turn to wintertime when he will be free, in the meantime R.M. thinks he believes that Echo is going to relieve the tedium of his imprisonment by visiting him- his bride, but she’s punishing Bob like Bob punished her.  He put her in a psychological prison and now as a prelude to a psychological prison she has him in a real prison and she is going to let him rot there.

     The feeling was translated into words in the song Steel Bars copyrighted in 1991:

In the night I hear you speak

Turn around, you’re in my sleep

Feel your hands inside your soul

You’re holding on and won’t let go.

 

I’ve tried running but there’s no escape

Can’t bend them, and (I know) I just can’t

break these…

 

Steel bars wrapped all around me

I’ve been your prisoner since the day you found me

I’m bound forever, till the end of time

Steel bars wrapped around this heart of mine.

     So Bob is learning the hard way inside the walls, the walls of Red Wing.

I don’t care

How many letters they sent

Morning came and morning went

Pick up your money

And pack your tent

You ain’t goin’ nowhere.

     So apparently Mom and Dad sent letters but nobody would pay the visit Bob so desperately needed.

     As R.M. points out visiting hours were in the morning so that the morning came and the morning went and Bob’s hope of a friendly face went on being frustrated.  As for those letters they could have stuffed them.

     And then in 1968 in a show of bravado Bob wrote a demand letter to Echo, possibly, in the song Nothing Was Delivered:

Nothing was delivered

And I tell this truth to you,

Not out of spite or in anger

But simply because it’s true.

Now, I hope you won’t object to this,

Giving back all of what you owe,

The fewer words you have to waste on this,

The sooner you can go.

     Perhaps Bob thought he could bully his way to freedom.  but he couldn’t.  Echo didn’t have to listen.

     And so Bob left Red Wing at the end of his term, the die was cast for the rest of his life.  He ‘tried running but there was no escape.’  ‘He thought he was alone but the past was just behind.’

      Echo had trapped him behind the walls of a psychological Red Wing.

Finis.

 

I Thought I Was Alone But The Past Was Just Behind

I Thought I Was Alone But The Past Was Just Behind

 

30 Responses to “Exhuming Bob VIII The Walls Of Red Wing”

  1. R M Says:

    Thank you. I didn’t see this one before. One thing, though: well, actually two. The reason for the “emergency Rabbi” – since they comfortable attended local temples regularly, is probably that 12 year old Bobby might have gotten kicked out of his local training. I have heard tell of boys to whom this has happened (real close relative, but I thing the boys were in the right … just my opinion). No probl. in NYC, but in Hibbing, it presented a MAJOR problem. So they got one, and if it presented a financial burden, you can bet Abe never let him forget. Now why he got him the motorbike, I don’t know. I guess it was a deal. He did good in school, stayed out of trouble as much as possible and the adolescent nagging would stop his father’s “ears (from} ring}ing.” But once that little kid withe orange came careening into the bike, that was over until he was grown. Quite a few expensive car accidents, so why in the world would Abe get him a car? Makes no sense: 9:30 curfew in his junior year (maybe even after!), NO spendimg cash, and no shot at a different job! Bobby was forced into slavery. Aw, heck, you know that I suspect the other boy, or some other boy, or one or both fathers in collusionl. Echo was a good-times gal who didn’t consider consequences. At that age, they rarely do, or even can, according to recent logiotudinal brain scan studies. Teens do not consider “after the fact.” They just act without thinking. Anyhoo, after 1957, he was clearly no longer welcome at camp after an outrageous incident or two or more (“I thought they were going to send him home,” said Dad to the friendly writer). So this was the 1st summer on his own. Bike gone, he begged for that little car. Don’t know by what means he got, but he did. He was clearly given a short stay when caught doing something, but I seriously doubt that he was freely driving down to St. Paul before senior year! Yes, Echo had many lonely nights, but there’s no hint anywhere that he went with another girl. Where is she that summer? Naw, it had to be the summer before, as Bob makes clear “NONE older than seventeen.” I am confused by the line in 4th street “must bust by early May; Orders from the D.A.” That suggests ’59, but I seriously doubt it. He was out and about THAT summer, even trying to glom on to Bobby Vee’s band, but was cut short when fired. (God knows what trouble he caused for himself, but his entire youth seemed marked by seekiing punishments, and getting them!) Always dating two girls at once (ONLY AFTER Echo!!), which is bound to leave one quite lonely. I got myself into that mess in college (two guys who thought they were separately dating me, and both, I realized, in the same club! I ran! Too much for the likes of me. But then, you’re lonely. But after an excruciatingly lonely high school time, I didn’t know what to do.)
    Doncha all see the pattern? It’s so clear, and extremely common with kids like Bob who was at least psychologically abused, if not physically (though Echo saw it and wondered: boys won’t tell youl, of course). They bring the very wrath of God on themselves!!! It was a compulsion by puberty with him. Just watch all the Jimmy Dean films, and you’ll see Bobby seeing himself. Even the townspeople saw him as the brooding loner brother, not the “good son” “hail felow well met” David, who never caused no trouble for nobody. As for Echo and the knife, her story keeps growing towards herself! First, she admits that the boy had the knife in his jeans, and since he wanted to open the club, just pulled it out and did it, real smooth. Later, it’s her knife. Now she did EVERYTHING! Whatever she wants to remember re: “the knife.” If that gives her pleasure, what the hell. Common sense, though prevails.
    Yeah, set up, probably, but I don’t know if by her. Maybe, ’cause she expected a steady with money, and she ended up feeding HIM! Bummer! But I think Bobby’s parents were thrilled that he got what was coming to him. And then he was famous! Oh S–t!!!!!!!!! Well, they look up this place Devereaux, meet with Bobby in NY, who slams Red Wing live into their stunned faces, and get him to sign permission for the shrinking shrink to talk. Shelton, though clearly possessed of the info, sees right through it, or asks Bob. And never mentions Devereaux and makes a very deft defense of the song “Red Wing” and its origins in criticizing some Minnesotan named Eldot or Idiot, or whatever. “The gates were cast iron, the walls were barbed wire,” Bob sings, making clear that the title is sarcasm, at the least. Yeah, wide open correctional facility. Boys could just walk out?!?!!!!!!????? Who do they think they’re fooliingl. The strongest evidence is in his mostautobiographical song: “Ballad in Plain D.” Last lines “my friends from the prison” ask him “what ist it like to be free?” and he makes the remark about the birds chained to the skyway. Ain’t nobody free, in the young Bobby’s estimation. Ain’t NOBODY “free.”
    Which is why “I Shall Be Released,” especially as Elvis sings it on the “Walk a Mile” set, makes this SO plain. While expressing his admiration for “Dylan,” he clearly shows that the “light” that will come shining and free him, is the light he saw on that hot Tuesday in Aug., ’77. And Bob knew that too. Lived dangerously. But lived. “Men will beg God to kill them and won’t be able to die,” (approx.), from the Slow Train era.
    He’s a guy tormented forever by his youth, as are too many.
    Best,
    RM

  2. reprindle Says:

    RM: Bob’s religious angle is spreading widely. It turns out that Abe wsn’t just your average pew sitter in the synagogue.

    Resaarch into bob’s situation in Hibbing is showing a much different picture than is generally believed. Bob’s family wasn’t just average in Hibbing but one of the more well off families. YOu can see why Echo thought she hit the jackpot. The Zimmermans lived in a big house on a street now renamed Bob Dylan Avenue. Abe was one of the more affluent men in town.

    In addition to that he wasn’t just your average pewholder sitting in the local synagogue but the President of N’nai B’rith and hence, I assume, head of ADL. In other words he was the local witch hunter rooting out all those anti-Semites hanging around Hibbing. As such he must have been connected to regional and by that to NYC itself. He had to have attended ADL conventions and known the heavy hitters. Thus, when Bob said he had connections in NYC, he wasn’t kidding.

    Not only was Abe the leader of the seveal hundred strong Jewish community in Hibbing but Bob’s mother was the President of Hadassah. Are we getting anywhere yet?

    Further, when you check into Camp Herzl with its 120 acre campus on a lake in Webster, Wisconsin one finds that it considers itself the central clearing house for both Wmerican and international Jewry where the elite meet to greet and get to know each other. Thus as the leader of B’nai B’rith and the ADL in Hibbing Abe’s sending Bob to Camp Herzl has added meaning.

    Because of Camp Bob knew the Minneapolis Jews where he had an entree. As Beattie says: Bob left home at nineteen and a half. A mother’s eye view of her son. His pledging at Sammy and his rejection of it therefore has added significance. Now, when he split Minnesota and went to Chicago he undoubtedly already knew a few people there. It was not totally terra incognita. There is less wonder that he went up to Madison in Wisconsin since he probably knew a number of campers at U Wisconsin.

    Then he headed to ADL central in NYC where his father was in tight with the organization. Now, connections can’t do anything for you without your demonstrating some special ability. Bob promptly demonstrated that special ability. The NY Times which is a Jewish newspaper employed Robert Shelton who was a Jewish reviewer. Bob was OK on the religious level even seeing himself as something of a Messiah. And not an unsuccessful one either as it turns out.

    Everyone was shocked that a newcomer was so kindly treated by Shelton but as it turns out they shouldn’t have been. CBS was a Jewish company run by William Paley who was a strong Jewish nationalist. John Hammond himself wasn’t Jewish. One asks why did he virtually seek Bob out to sign him after all the small Jewish labels Vanguard, Electra, Asch etc. had rejucted him? Perhaps connections between his father and national ADL?

    This stuff bears investigating. It was rather a surprise to me at the time when a guy who was nothing more than singer was elevated to the position of prophet overnight. He didn’t rate national TV attention as well as that of Time, Newsweek etc. So who put them up to it. Why was Bob given the greenlight?

    Of course Bob had to survive the test which he managed to do. He was tried and not found wanting. Eccentric perhaps but up to the task in his own way which is as it must be. After cracking up from the pressure he resurfaced with the religious album John Wesley Harding cleverly disguised as Americana.

    In 1984 Bob said he believed the Bible to be literal truth. He said that the two testaments are sides to the same coin which is, of course true. Then as a messianic figure, reversing the procedure of centuries he tried to show the goyim that their Christianity was the same as Judaism and that rther than they ‘converting’ Jews they should themselves embrace Judaism.

    Of course Bob had to deny prophetism because of the fate of Jesus. As he said: Look at what they did to him. So he first put on a Christian face and then adopted a Jewish one as if to say: This is the way to do it.

    Anyway as one peels back the layers of the onion one will inevitably get to the germ within which is what it’s all about.

  3. R M Says:

    I know I’m supposed to post in my other area that you set up, but I want to clarify. (This is “Ramblin’ Robin,” the “stream of consciousness” PhuD (Ph.D., Sociology, ’92, City U. of NY’s Graduate Center: a school in a high rise that produces ONLY Ph.D.s . . . if they can stand the struggle and the time and the putting your life on hold, but the price is right, sho’ nuff (!!!!!), so I’m glad I did it. Made my whole family proud, and I’m extra glad my mom, who just left this cold, cruel world, saw me get “hooded.” (Sounds weird, don’t it? Like I joined the Klan or something! Ha!}

    My folks had the Freewheelin’ album and “Red Wing” had been cut in the East Coast versions, and then in all versions. It wasn’t until ’91 that HIS demo came out.
    Importantly, he sings it a little differently than the sheet lyrics. “From INSIDE THE GROUNDS, behind the Walls of Red Wing.” That makes a world of difference.
    Baez skips the verse about the woodpile, but does a terrifyingly slowed tempo before “the rain rattled heavy on the bunkhouse shingles . . .” Really drawing it all out, so you HEAR it. And it hits you as it must have hit her: HARD RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No Red Wing incarceration, no “Hard Rain’s A’Gonna Fall.” And the sweet, loving sensitivity of “made my ears ring” sung in the voice of the child who was there (I believe at 17, not 18, because I believe the evidence backs this more: Echo complaining about him being “gone” and no one from Dinkytown knowing him until he was settled in school . . . her “cover stories” don’t hold up. His songs DO. “You’ll never know what ya did ta me!” a 60-sumpin’ Bob sings in “Cold Irons Bound.”

    And he wrote the original “You Ain’t Goin'” back in the EARLY 60s, and changed it in “the basement.”

    No, I do not believe suffering is good for artists. Nuts to that. But she sings that slowed tempo part (the rest of the song!} with such delicate, empathic {sp?) tenderness that she’s the one who “knows too much to argue or to judge.” It’s just that his ideal of Joanie did not turn out to be the REAL Joan, and that was that. He wanted her to be “without ideals or violence,” but no one gets exactly what they want from another.

    And what I do on the ‘net me and my old buddies used to call “rambling.” We borrowed it from the musician we were “studying” at the time; he always would go through peoples stuff when they weren’t in the room.

    Anyway, yes, the secrets are in the back of the bottom drawers of a dresser or desk. He was right about that. And any public person, much less “Mr. Secrets” Bob Dylan, immediately opened himself up for it by B.S.’ing about his past as soon as he stepped off the subway in the village in ’61. If you’re tellin’ stories, it means you are covering your real stories. But “never trust the artist; trust the tale.” And it is SOOOOOOOOO true. With Red Wing, its “the minutes” — I found it in an ’89 academic study of two reformatories, one of which was Red Wing. The other was in Missouri, and mostly they talk about Red Wind.
    Wow, did Minn. actually decline to answer about “Robert Allen Zimmerman”? If they declined when asked, you got your answer. Bam! I hope it can be settled because I believe it would help the guy, even after – or especially after all these years.
    As to the Bar Mitzvah thingy, I know, personally, two brothers who had to get a tutor ’cause they got thrown out of class!!!!! (Real close to me!!!! And I am an only child. Get it?)
    I think he tried to run off from it is what I think, or he got kicked out. Hibbing is a small town. Everbody would know, and they would be in a jam. Some people think if they don’t do it, their kids will be damned or something. Jeez, it’s just a kids’ b’day party with some religious stuff thrown in! Today they make the doggone things like weddings!!!!! {rolling eyes}
    But yeah, ’41 plus 13 is ’54, hmmm. Too soon for James Dean. But he was on his way to “Starkville.”
    See me in the other column with my iniitals on it!
    All the best, and I will stay put from now on,
    Robin

  4. Derryl Peterson Says:

    Bob Dylan was in the Red Wing State Training School for Boys, as Red Wing was called in 1958.I was in Red Wing in 1952-53 myself, so I didn’t see him personally, but several of my friends from my old home town were there at the same time as Dylan, (then known as Zimmerman.)One of my friends named Larry Haugen has written as book entitled A Year and a Day in Red Wing that recounts his own experiences. He has almost a whole chapter about Dylan. In 1958 Dylan already had his big frizzy hair style and the staff permitted him to keep his guitar, so he was the only boy in the school carrying a guitar case around with him. He sang a lot of times in the dormitory. Haugen was not impressed with his voice but said his singing had a sort of hypnotic quality that kept everbody listening. He said Dylan hung out with the guys he already knew from his hometown of Hibbing, and seldom spoke to anyone else unless some asked him a direct question. He was only there for a short while in the summer of ’58. Minnesota has a state law that seals or expunges the records of juvenille inmates who don’t get into further trouble with the law. So no state official is going release any records of juvenilles. Actually Red Wing didn’t have any walls. Now it has a fence. St. Cloud, the prison Dylan mentions in the song, does have high gray stone walls and guard towers, and St.Cloud is situated alongside U.S. Highway 10, the highway that connects Minneapolis and Fargo, Bobby Vee’s hometown, so no doubt Dylan passed by St. Cloud prison and used that image in his song. It’s not that I want to “out” Dylan, I just don’t see how a juvenille conviction is anything to be ashamed of.


    • Derryl, thanks for posting this perspective. i don’t know what is or isn’t factually true about Dylan, i first got heavily into him in early 1965 when i was 16. i had been in juvenile hall in Los Angeles County once before then, set up and busted by my dad, and then was put into a foster home by my PO at my request, to save me from my crazy dad.

      In those days, the songs of Dylan made a powerful positive difference for me, i’ll never know what life would’ve been like without those songs and Dylan’s attitude and persona, he was part of my world, to my benefit. I only just read the rumor or speculation a few days ago that Dylan was locked up when he as a teenager, in a psych hospital by his dad, a blog commenter cited the Heylin book which i never read, i ordered it and saw what was said, inconclusive, speculative, and ended up at this blog, trying to find out more.

      What was most poignant for me in your post was where you say your friend, Larry Haugen, in his autobiographical book, has a chapter mostly about Dylan while at the Red Wing detention facility where he says, according to you, that Dylan was allowed to have his guitar there and was the only kid there with a guitar, which he played and sang with.

      I was in LA County juvies three times between 12/64 when i was 15 and 3/66 when i was 16, almost 17. My ex foster mom, who still liked me and stayed in touch with me, wrote me a card saying that another foster girl told her kids could have their records at juvenile hall with them and she asked if i wanted her to bring my Dylan albums. She said i should ask the staff what i could be allowed to have and she said “Ask them if you can have your guitar.” I did and they said yes. I couldn’t carry it around like your friend describes Dylan doing, it stayed in the staff office, but i could have it in my room at various times.

      One day we were all confined to our rooms. We could have our doors open and we all sat in our doorways so we could see each other and talk. i had my guitar, i took it and sat in my doorway on the floor, learning against the door frame, i was at one end of the hall near the office and i could see all the girls sitting in their doorways, and i just started playing Chimes of Freedom, i played the whole song, all the verses, all the words, all my heart. I didn’t think they would listen necessarily, most kids in there were black kids and they generally only liked Motown, and some let me know they hated hearing the sound of Dylan when i played it on the record player in the day room.

      But throughout the whole song i could see all the kids looking at me, and i said sang the words clearly, with feeling, “and for each unharmful gentle soul, misplaced inside a jail,” it was a pretty amazing experience for me to sing that whole song to those kids and to me. After it, i played To Ramona, but i don’t remember that experience as clearly, i don’t think they kept listening and i might not have finished playing it.

      When i would reflect back on that experience in more recent times, i have always thought it was weird and incongruous to have my guitar in there, and i always thought that i was probably the only kid who ever had their guitar in a juvenile detention facility. But maybe not.


      • (i want to add that i ordered a copy of Larry Haugen’s book)


      • hey, good to see a sign of life! i wasn’t sure if there was anyone still following this, having been a while since the last comment. either way, i enjoyed writing out into the ether capacious of the web. message in a bottle. have enjoyed reading the conversation on here very much. the first comment i wrote here, before the one above, seems to be under a different account, it’s at the very bottom of all the comments, more related detail. with soundtrack.

  5. reprindle Says:

    The idea is not to ‘out’ Dylan but to make sense of his lyrics and put his life into chronological order.

    In my home town a lot of people were set up and sent to reform school so I don’t take it too seriously. Nevertheless better to avoid if possible. I was lucky.

  6. richard leeds Says:

    We are all touched by difficult moments in our lives. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean you can track a mans tears and reconstruct his life. In many ways we can gain more insight into the personality and motivations of the person who collects tattered tales of momentary reflections. Like tossing coins into a wishing well, it’s easy to imagine a fortune laying untouched at the unseen bottom, and believing that the next moment of unexpected happiness was the direct result of your words silently spoken as your quarter slowly disappears into the infinite void…
    I heard a story, told by a Man who was in a position to “claim to know,” that Robert Zimmerman was enrolled at a “Residential Treatment Center” in Devon, Pennsylvania, know as The Devereaux Foundation. Although “Devereaux” was made up of a collection of individual “units,”
    if the “claim was correct” Robert Zimmerman could have lived at the High School unit located in Berwyn, Pa., and possibly attended it’s summer camp on “Embden Lake” in “North Anson, Maine.” If there is any truth to the story, in the fragility of adolescence, my heart eases knowing as with life & living, he was just passing through…

    Dylan, as nature itself, is always becoming… Celebrate what you hear and know… There’s no need to fill in places where there really aren’t any spaces. Allow his words to sing for themselves
    without having to rewrite them, redraw them, or untangle them. To do otherwise is to take the art out of the creators context. Which means it then becomes your words, your song and not his. But then perhaps that’s what you seek when you reach into the depths of your “wishing well.” Now they have become your reflections and, perhaps never actually his….

    RML

  7. richard leeds Says:

    As an afterthought to my earlier posting this morning, I think it might be worthwhile to add to additional comments.
    1. Sometimes we can read too much into the origins of artistic development. Maybe it’s because we can’t comprehend that this “boy” or that “girl” who grew up in the same place at the same time with similar backgrounds and such, develops into something that is totally unlike you or I. We place too much emphasis on “nurture” and the “environment,” and discount without ability to understand the “nature of person” we are considering. I often think “who would Beethoven have been had he been born in the early mid 20th century. Yes we are all affected by the world that “nature’s” us and “embraces” or “doesn’t embrace us.” But just because were of a certain ethnic background, especially following the fall of Nazi Germany, would bring greater temperance and understanding to those of Jewish descent. I am but 5 years younger than Bob. My Grandfather’s name was Abe and he also came to the states just after turn of the 20th century from Lithuania. So what? By the time I was 12 I was also having early adolescent issues and began acting out. I did something minor, the police became involved, and I was placed in a detention home for 5 days. My parents were given a choice (or so they told me). I will be sent to a reform school, or my parents can send me to a place to get “help” (as society then defined it). So I wound up in a Residential Treatment Center outside of Philadelphia. Sound familiar? There were 52 seniors in my graduating class in 1965. One of them was Sylvester Stallone. His name was “Michael” then, and there were a lot of kids that were as bright or brighter than he was. But most of us felt “used,” “abandoned,” “discarded,” and certainly “misunderstood.” One fellow student who was 18 but mentally going on 30 (I was 18 going on 12) I was certain would be incredibly successful in any career or his choosing. I found out 5 years ago he committed suicide in 1992… What a waste. My real point here is that Bob always knew (as it has been written) that “you can go anywhere if your somebody else.” Which sounds better to eager ears willing to rummage through the scraps of paper n waste of his life, “Reform School” or a “Residential Treatment Center?” To me the second doesn’t fit very well with all the stories of “riding the rails,” “playing in honky tonk strip clubs” and travelling with a “carnival or circus.”
    2. I must correct another written statement I made earlier. I was told that Robert Allen Zimmerman was sent to “Devereaux” in his Junior High School year. The unit he would have been sent to was called “The Hedges,” also near Devon Pa. He was there on about 6 months, I heard he ran home and his parents allowed him to remain. Whatever the truth may be, probably what I’ve been told is probably closer to reality than your “Reform School” story. The Zimmerman’s had the money to send Bob away to keep him out of a “public desperate setting” into a “private desperate setting.” No matter, I keep my focus on who he is today, and also smile at the various roads that have brought him into my life. For this I will always be grateful…

    RML

  8. reprindle Says:

    Richard: I have a couple things to do right now. Let me get back to you in a couple days.

  9. reprindle Says:

    Richard: As far as Devereaux goes the fifties and early sixties were big times for committing people. Kupferberg said American was insane while Kennedy’s plan was to turn the US into one big nut house with everyone opposing him declared insane, something like Obama.

    Walter Eldot, a Duluth journalist of the the time wrote a number of pieces criticizing Dylan of which I’ve only found one so far. In his opinion Dylan in high school was too eccentric for the Iron Range. His kind wasn’t appreciated. Dylan apparently carried his James Dean obsession to an extreme. So, it is fair to assume he was considered sort of nuts. One doesn’t take this too seriously as anyone not conforming was considered crazy. But everyone probably thought Dylan should be in a place like Devereaux.

    However, up until graduation Dylan’s time seems to be well accounted for. Unless there has been a very successful cover up there isn’t a time slot for Devereaux except possibly July and August of 1959.

    Red Wing has to fit in sometime between Jan. to Sept. of 1959 part of which time is not accounted for. His conviction was likely for breaking and entering. I think it possible that he served his time between January and graduation and that he was allowed to graduate with his class in consideration of his parents. Otherwise his sentence was delayed until after school and he was allowed to serve it in July and August of ’59.

    If you’ve seen Dylan’s movie Masked And Anonymous you will notice a stage backdrop that says ‘American Shoes.’ That would be a reference to Red Wing. Red Wing boots are billed as American made shoes. This would also tie in to Highway 61 with its reference to red, white and blue shoe strings while Red Wing is located on 61.

    On the other hand I haven’t been able to find any references to a place like Devereaux which should be there as Dylan’s stuff is all autobiographical.

    Life is difficult. As George Clinton said ‘America eats its young’ It is unfortunate to have your life blasted by a trip to reform school but one judges by one’s subsequent life. Like I say, I wasn’t sent to reform school but there were a lot people that would have been happy to see me there and manufacture a crime for me. They tried, but I eluded them. Been running ever since.

  10. richard leeds Says:

    Respectfully I write again, “Dylan is, as nature itself, always becoming… Celebrate what you hear and know… There’s no need to fill in places where there really aren’t any spaces. Allow his words to sing for them self without having to rewrite them, redraw them, or untangle them. To do otherwise is to take the art out of the creators context. Which means, it then becomes your words, your song and not his! But then perhaps that’s what you unconsciously seek when you reach into the depths of your own “wishing well?” As such they become your reflections, and just maybe, never were really were his at all…”

    Appreciate your passion,

    Richard

  11. reprindle Says:

    Thanks, Richard. You’ve just described Dylan’s technique with traditinal music while denying me the right to do the same thing to his. But, that doesn’t matter. I don’t mean to interfere with your enjoyment of his stuff, Dylan did what he did and I do what I do.

  12. richard leeds Says:

    Hmmmmm…(with respect) It’s not my right or place to deny you of your thoughts, or opinions. This is one of the critical ways we all learn to extend our thinking. What it appears you are trying to do, is (a) get people to think, (b) try to understand a great artist within the context of his life, times, heritage, influences, etc etc. Kinda reminds me of my old University daze of reading “Marshall McLuhan.” “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” Somehow that says a lot to me about Bob. I just go wherever his music & words take me… In fact I’m reminded of a wonderful passage from T.S.Elliots Four Quartets, “We shall not cease from exploration, And the end of all our exploring,
    Will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time.” Somehow, in a very special way, this is how I experience Dylan. Everytime I listen I hear something new… With Bob, my glass is never half empty. Why, because his music, arrangements, tempo, words, phraising, etc., are always evolving, always effervescent, always filling my heart & my head. So, all we’re doing is communicating, just like Bob and his audience. There are those who felt betrayed and denied by Dylan. This you probably know better than I. But did he really? No he didn’t in the context of his journey, nor did you, nor have I.
    On a separate note, I really know nothing about you or how you got into all this. Are you a writer and is writing your profession? How about sending me an email at richard@richardleeds.com.

    richard

  13. Bob Dandy Says:

    I was in red wing 1960-61-62 never heard of zimmerman being there and I also used to say hello to him when he was at the candy bar a place across from centeral high school… where we would smoke and skip class.

    he would be there once in a while I don’t know why but I aske someone once who the hell is that weird giy.they said bobby zimmerman hes a loner … but like me he wore a leather jacket and tight jeans so he was ok in my book………… Bob Dandy


  14. i heard bob dylan for the first time in 1963 when i was 14, when i shoplifted the Freewheelin album from Builders Emporium where i went with my friend Danny to do some low budget christmas shopping. we had to go look at the records first, in the folk section. we thought his name was pronounced Dye-lin, we had only ever seen it printed in the song writer credits on the Peter Paul and Mary album. we all wanted to hear more songs by him BAD. when i saw the album with that amazing cover, not like any other cover i’d ever seen before, i said to Danny, “Look, look, it’s him, bob Dye-lin!!!” Danny suggested we steal the album since we didn’t have enough money to buy it plus xmas presents (it cost $4). i was wearing a huge army navy surplus sailor’s pea coat (in fashion at the time), so i just put it under my coat and we walked out, taking some other albums with us, hey why not? i had never stolen records or much of anything before that i remember, maybe some kite string once.

    i didn’t have money to buy more dylan albums, but the following december, a year later, my dad, who was frustrated with my mildly rebellious behavior and had just stopped hitting me after hitting me my whole life because of an emergency room incident, he needed a new way to control me, so unknown to me, he got a reel to reel tape recorder and secretly recorded all my phone calls for 4 months, not able to get anything in all that time, until finally, when i was at someone’s house, they gave me some weed, i had never seen marijuana before, i took a couple of puffs (not hits) and didn’t feel anything, but i told my friend about it on the phone when i got home. A couple of days later i was in juvenile hall, known as Central Juvenile Hall, on Eastlake, in Los Angeles. December 1964, i was 15. Long story, went to a foster home at my own request, my PO could see that i didn’t stand a chance if i stayed with my dad and she got me a foster home. when i went there, leaving my school and familiar life behind, a friend handed me three Dylan albums, Times they Are a Changin, Another Side and Bringing it All Back Home which belonged to him, saying “here, you need to listen to these,” and l listened to them all in the foster mom’s bedroom where she had a stereo and i had privacy, and i figured out how to play all the songs on my guitar. words can’t express what a difference having those albums made. I was in juvy two more times, petty reasons, the last time in early 1966, in the brand new juvenile hall they had just built, at Sylmar CA.

    The last time was for a month and a half because they didn’t know what to do with me, i wasn’t a juvenile delinquent type, i thought of my self as a beatnik and artist. my grades were OK, B average, i didn’t have serious behaviors. Foster mom adored me, went to court and tried to get me back, saying really good things about me, all true, and the judge agreed but the PO, a different one from the one who put me in the foster home, said no, she wanted me to go to a closed setting with an on grounds school. She was a small minded idiot. “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” But instead they ended up sending me back to my parents for my last year until i would be 18. When i turned 18, i headed for haight ashbury, summer of love.

    Anyway, i haven’t read many books about Dylan because i’ve never been much of a reader, except on the web. I was reading some guy’s blog the other day and one of the commenters posted that Dylan was locked up in psych facility as a teenager, and he cited the Heylin book, which i immediately ordered from Amazon. i had never heard anything about dylan getting locked up as a kid before and the idea of it impacted me. it was what i thought it would be, some unsourced speculation, but i can’t tell you how that effected me when i thought it might be a possibility. It’s not a very big club of people who were locked up as kids, especially by their parents. I have enjoyed beginning to read through all the stuff posted on here.

    I am going to post a cover i did of i shall be released recorded back in 1977, crudely. I don’t even know if you can post you tube links on here but i am just going to try.

  15. reprindle Says:

    Judy: Thanks for your comment and the song. I thought your version of I Shall Be Released was very OK. Dylan in his Bootleg 12 release sang the song with that same slow jogging rhythm. He used it in verious rehearsals most notably in Please, Crawl Out Your Window. I don’t know what he’s talking about in that song but I like it.

    Sounds like you had one of those fathers from hell, tough break. I had a mother from hell, not a very pleasant experience either.

    I think the post from Deryl was from 2010. I did research Haugen a little, he used to have a website, don’t know if he still does but I don’t think his opinion of Dylan is accurate. Dylan certainly wouldn’t have had frizzy hair in ’58 while his Okie accent was developed in New York. His normal singing voice was closer to John Wesley Harding. Don’t know how he sounded doing Little Richard.

    On volume twelve he used a more normal voice most often. Apparently his recording voice was ‘electronically enhanced.’ A number of early performances have been released on CD. Not great but the voice is not the one on his records.

    Sorry about your tough childhood but we all have to carry the weight we’re given. Sounds like you came through OK.

  16. ju4dy Says:

    R.E. — (i wonder why this font is so big, it’s huge compared to all the other text, feels a little weird, i trust it will shrink when posted, hopefully) — thanks for all the info on different versions of I Shall Be Released, i am just returning, like rip van winkle, to many things i’ve missed, books, music, everything, to find lots of dylan music and other dylan culture things, interviews, stuff, that has been around but is new to me. when you say there are some old early dylan performances on CD, how early do you mean? i mean, from when he was a kid?

    i thought the same thing you said, that Derryl’s report of Haugen’s tale, the frizzy hair part, didn’t fit historically. the only way big frizzy hair would make sense would be if the facility wasn’t budgeting for haircuts. Or maybe it was a sort of Little Richard influence.

    i’m enjoying reading your dylan writings and related comments by people. what you said about the navy and the experience of oppression (if i may use that word)–many people i knew ended up drafted in the 60s or enlisted, and the stories i would hear, boot camp in particular, omg, it sounded much worse than any jails i experienced or heard of, i don’t know how true those stories were, they sounded true, caused me to wonder why anyone would voluntarily go into such a thing.

    my childhood was adventurous, a lot of pain and tears, a lot of fun and laughs, i can’t say i would trade it for another one, so far anyway.

    man, i enjoyed reading your review of that dylan concert in portland, wow!!!! i’ve seen him 6 times, first one was when i was 16 at the Hollywood Bowl Sept.3, 1965, electric set with Al Kooper, Robbie Robertson, Harvey Brooks and Levon Helm, no booing could be heard in that audience. The most recent one i saw was 10 years ago, he wore white at that one too, first dylan concert i had been at where he didn’t pick up a guitar the whole time, played keys and harp. you really capture the feel of it, the energy, great energy, tight tight band and you get a show. i wish someone recorded that one you reviewed, i would love to hear that one. I have tickets to see him in LA on june 16. 🙂 very excited. Did you take the photos with the review? nice view.


  17. uh oh. i just saw that the post i just wrote says above it, “this post is password protected. enter password to view comments.” i guess i accidentally thought i had to log in to post the comment so i logged in, and that ended up instead making it so it can only be read with my password? all new to me, trying to figure it out. going to try to unpassword it.


  18. i think i fixed it. i somehow (vaguely remember) creating an account twice, to comment here, and i logged in with one and got that “this post is password protected”, then logged out and logged back in using the other account and the ‘password protected’ isn’t there now… hope that worked.

  19. reprindle Says:

    Judy: I don’t know what password protected means. Nothing I did. I notice for the first time a notice to me that I am commenting using your WordPress. account. I don’t know what that means either.

  20. reprindle Says:

    I don’t understand creating an account. You were required to create an account to comment? How about read?

  21. reprindle Says:

    Judy: Concerning recordings of early Dylan: go to Amazon for CDs and DVDs and look over availabilities. It might astonish you. There is a very early Montreal concert and even a recording of Izzy Young’s Carnegie Hall concert. Dylan was clearly playing C&W not yet having developed a folk manner. His C&W roots are right on the surface. He wasn’t really singing folk. In my estimation there didn’t seem to be much hope for him but he did manage to get it together.

    As to the concert I had read so many bad reviews that I went in expecting nothing. I had never seen him live so this was a new experience. He himself didn’t do much. Of course, at seventy-five all that hard touring night after night I’m sure he has to pace himself to keep going. He can’t afford to be too active and he wasn’t.

    The volume overrode his vocals while he couldn’t really be called singing. Only an occasional lyric came through.
    I did take the pictures and if you notice there aren’t any speakers visible just those boxes laying on the stage. I don’t know what they were but a tremendous all embracing volume seemed to be coming from them. The sound was more symphonic than the usual five man band sound. None of the instruments were articulated. Even the drumming melded into the sound but the overall effect was astonishing. I never knew a tune was playing, the effect was like a symphonic movement but very beautifully loud.

    Since Dylan has gone Sinatra I myself will not sit through a single Sinatra song. I cannot stand the guy. After Dylan announced his Spring tour beginning in Seattle I checked to see how ticket sales were going. The site indicated that they had oodles of tickets available so possibly he has alienated his fans with the Sinatra jive or perhaps he has just been on road too long.

    The show I attended was great though.


  22. LOL, i like the Sinatra stuff. I didn’t like Sinatra, never did, but i did really like Bobby Darin when i was 12-14 in the early 60s, he did those standards too, along with an eclectic array of other music genres, and i learned to like the standards listening to his records. But it’s not the just the music that i enjoy when Dylan does it, the recorded stuff i’ve heard—it’s just him, the way he is living out some dream or some idea of being free to do what he wants, things that will put people off, i love the way he does what he wants, on a world stage, and puts himself into it, and to me, he sounds quite serious about it, about singing the words, with feeling, and it works for me. but I also love the Christmas in Your Heart album—i never took an interest in it before and just got into it last xmas, i have a first and only grand daughter who was approaching a year and a half and i was spending xmas with her, and i got into those Dylan xmas songs, really enjoy them, although on first listen it took some adapting, but i had not enjoyed xmas carols in years, just too many times hearing them played in department stores to try to get you to buy stuff i think, before it came to be considered insensitive and they disappeared. So my enjoyment of xmas carols was renewed, grand daughter loved it. i would rather hear dylan do them than anyone else.

    i greatly appreciate your detailed comments as to what to expect as far as dylan’s live singing goes, i was wondering. I have heard nothing but disparaging or negative comments, other than people who just love the vibe of any dylan concert and express positive emotion, but anyone who says anything in detail says Dylan’s performing time is over. Your comments about the sonic impact are really interesting and make sense.

    re my accounts–yes, WordPress came into it somehow, i don’t remember but with one account, i just log in with my google account, easily, but with the other one, which i probably created first, somehow i also had to create a word press account. some kind of error or misunderstanding on my part, no doubt.

    when i check the box that says Notify me of new comments via email, to my knowledge i haven’t gotten any notifications. That may be, probably is, because of the amount of spam i get and i don’t know what would be in the From field which is what i’m usually looking at when deleting.

    i was looking at the venue seating after reading your comment. Most of the tickets are bought but there seem to be a lot in the back balcony rows and far side orchestra sections. and the orchestra section under the balcony. The concert isn’t until mid June so maybe more will sell.

    It’s ok with me if he keeps doing loud concerts singing or shouting the occasional lyric, lol. something about him continuing in the way he does that is special.


  23. i’m listening to a concert recorded today in Tokyo (4/4/16), wow, it sounds great. somebody must have some good recording gear and good seat? Dylan’s vocals overall are great quality, even without my pre-existing low expectations. This is part 1 of the concert, before the intermission, Duquesne Whistle ROCKS (would it be better if i moved this to comments on the concert you reviewed?)

  24. reprindle Says:

    Judy: Sorry for being so slow. You got me thinking about Bobby Darin. I discovered my memories of him were way out of place. Darin first came to our attention when he released Splish Splash. In the context of the times one of the most bodacious records ever. As I say I began to suspect my memory for some reason. Something didn’t seem right.

    I placed Splish Splash back in my high school days in 1956. I decided to check it out before I wrote. The song was actually released in 1958-59 during my Navy days. Even knowing that I still can’t believe it. That would have been near the time of the big Fabian push. Apparently Darin followed that up with Dream Lover one of my favorites although I don’t associate the song with Darin in my memory but I know he did it.

    Prior to recording Splish Splash he recorded a song called I Found A Million Dollar Baby In A Five And Ten Cent Store. I thought that was on of the most ridiculous titles I’d ever heard although I only heard Darin’s rock version after your comment when I found it on You Tube. Astounded I found out that the song was an old standard from the Twenties sung by lots of people including Bing Crosby.

    By this time I felt like I had entered a parallel universe. Everything I thought I knew was wrong.

    Anyway I now understand Darin’s problem. He never developed a style of his own. Million Dollar Baby is a rock version of the song with a Presley influence while Splish Splash is Negro R&B a la Leiber and Stoller. Dream Lover was a toned down rock ballad.

    Somehow Darin shifted gears and decided he wanted to be the new Sinatra. Well, wow! If Splish Splash was bodacious Mack The Knife, in the context of the times, was perhaps the most bodacious song of all time. What a ruckus that caused, nearly ended his career. The violence of it might even make it the dividing point between the Fifties and all the crazy violence that has followed.

    Now, just as Darin was settling into Frankie Boy’s style Dylan came along at the same time as the British Invasion knocking the hell out of the remainder of Sinatra’s career and demolishing Darin’s.

    Another shift of gears and Darin emerged as a would be Dylan clone singing If I Was A Carpenter. It was corny but it worked.

    No longer a Sinatra clone Darin took the style of a bum forlornly crouched over his guitar singing sad songs about being a poor boy. He didn’t have a followup to Carpenter so he reinvented himself once again as a Vegas act and then died. (Literally.)

    Quite a career. I watched with some amazement. All in all I would give him a place in Rock And Roll Heaven for his remarkable career but so-so as a singer and act.

    Boy, you really brought that out of me. Hope it amused you.

  25. ju4dy Says:

    reprindle—it’s been almost a year since i posted here, sorry to be non responsive. i went through a relationship thing that was like what Dylan expresses in Idiot Wind, not a romantic relationship, perhaps deeper than that, 32 years long, just been trying to creatively cope with a gaping wound, definitely very important transformative inspirational evolutionary experience. anyway, that was distracting and disorienting.

    i loved your comments on Bobby Darin. i was very into him in junior high early 60s, i remember it as you do except without the perspective you had historically at the time (unless this was all stuff you learned recently from you tube and all the other stuff on the web)(not that it matters).

    i mean, i didn’t realize that Mack the Knife was taken badly at the time because of the violence in it. I guess i didn’t even realize songs didn’t have violence in them. times were a changing really fast at that time, when i was 12-14, Bobby Darin’s popularity was a little before my time when i started listening to top 40 in 1960-61. At the onset of this involvement, there were diverse songs and musical styles, and the radio played lots and lots of “golden oldies,” there were things like Waltzing Matilda and Battle of New Orleans, and some early Bobby Vee, Rubber Ball, gene Pitney, Neil Sedaka, and of course, Motown, and by ’62, there was surf music, i was into all of that, and by late ’62 there was the pop folk, Kingston Trio, Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, and Peter Paul and Mary, Lemon Tree.

    Then 63, Surf music & Beachboys still strong, and Motown huge and folk, PP&M and Kingston Trio, and Pete Seeger was even on Top 40 with We Shall Overcome, although i don’t know if it was in the top 40. I had the album. That stuff was all mixed.

    My love of Bobby Darin didn’t start from music but from his first movie star role in Come September in 1961, with Sandra Dee. That’s where they met and married. He was my first movie star crush, and my main one, so i started collecting his music, albums, i got a lot of 45s too. Mack The Knife was already an “Oldie” by then–if it wasn’t current, it was called an oldie. Splash Splash was really old and Dream Lover too, like 2-3 years old. He wrote Splish Splash and Dream Lover.

    so when i got into him, i was pretty new to pop rock and oldies rock, i had a history of listening to movie musical songs, seeing the movies and getting the albums. But if not for seeing him in that movie, i never would have gotten into standards because they didn’t get played on top 40 radio. So, i was the only kid i knew who was into that kind of music except for my best friend Stephanie who got into it as part of our friendship.

    by the way, i think Bobby’s debut single was Rock Island Line in early 1956. it’s on you tube. i didn’t learn about it until i’d been into him for a while, it’s obscure. Million Dollar Baby was recorded in ’57 but i didn’t hear it until later when it was included on a later album. meh.

    You’re right, being the new Frank Sinatra did not have a future in the early mid 60s. Bobby was releasing a lot of albums in the early 60s. In ’63 which was the year that folk went top 40, he had about 3 folk music albums, he had about 3 country-ish albums the year before, so he was trying to adapt. On one of the folk albums released in 1963, he covered Don’t Think Twice and Blowin In the Wind. They were recorded in 1962 but the record was released in mid 63, around the time PP&M released those two Dylan covers as singles. My memory may be confused on this. i always have to keep an open mind about my memory.

    For me, the Bobby Darin thing died down as folk became important & the Beatles came out in early 64 in the US followed by the wave of English rock and blues, the Kinks, the Stones, the Who, the Animals, Manfred Mann. And Motown was still very strong. that was all so intense. For me, ’65 was the year Dylan rose above everybody else, at least with the relevance of his art to my life, not to say many others didn’t contribute massively. music kept flowing.

    i continued to follow Bobby Darin sentimentally from a distance, but i wasn’t into his work anymore. I knew he had a severe heart valve problem from childhood, he always said he had to do everything really fast because he was going to have a short life, he was told or heard people saying when he was a kid. that’s what he died of, and he was in bad shape for a long time.

    i was once driving in my car and on my radio was an interview with Roger McGuinn. He was saying that Bobby Darin was a mentor to him, Darin hired McGuinn to play his 12 string backing up Darin in Vegas for the folk part of his act, he hired him off the stage of a nightclub where McGuinn was backing up the Chad Mitchell Trio. He said he asked Darin’s advice on how to make it in the music business and he received a lot of valuable advice. The most important thing Darin said to him was to get into rock music, and he said he always had confidence in Darin’s advice and the result of that was the Byrds.

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