Highway 61 revisited

We traveled up to Hibbing last night to watch my daughter perform in a concert that concluded her study in a violin camp. I was struck by how small and remote the town is from the Twin Cities as well as how nice the people are. Hibbing is of course the old mining town that is famous as Bob Dylan’s hometown. See the excellent Life in Hibbing page posted by this year’s Dylan Days for information on all things related to Dylan’s residence in the town.
I visited Dylan’s old house at 2425 7th Avenue East this morning before I left town. The house is a small two-story residence with a one-car attached garage on the side. The house is exactly two blocks from Hibbing High School. A Dylan fan must own it. The garage door has the cover of “Blood on the Tracks” painted on it.
Of the Dylan books with which I am familiar, Howard Sounes’s Dylan biography Down The Highway does the best job of capturing the Hibbing period of Dylan’s life. Sounes’s research is impeccable, including his discussion of Dylan’s teen-age friendships with Larry Kegan and Howard Rutman in the Twin Cities.
How could Dylan possibly have absorbed all the strains of American popular music in a town as remote as Hibbing? The radio was apparently Dylan’s indispensable source, but his the development of his gifts seems incredibly unlikely. How could he have developed the ambition to become “Bob Dylan” from his roots in Hibbing? The town must have provided some encourgement and should at least be credited with providing the impetus for him to move on and not look back.

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