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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Sunday, April 08, 2007


Photocredit: the picture now up there in this blogger's My Profile slot is by Dave Engel, author of the splendid Just Like Bob Zimmerman's Blues: Dylan in Minnesota - which The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia calls "one of the four or five most valuable books on Bob Dylan ever published" but which is, sadly and madly, out of print.

Dave was one of the many excellent contributors to the symposium Highway 61 Revisited: Dylan's Road from Minnesota to the World, held at the University of Minnesota (at the Coffman Memorial Union building and the Weisman Art Museum) March 25-27.

Some of the sessions were keynote - that is, they were the only thing on at the time, so everyone could catch them - and some were concurrent. Highlights of the first day included Greil Marcus' fine, straightforward and heartfelt talk about Hibbing High School - I'd never heard him speak before, but it was a great pleasure to do so: he was moving, direct, and immensely thoughtful - and for many of us who had taken the bus trip to Hibbing only the previous day, his talk was radiantly clarifying. (Greil had not been on the bus trip, but had been to the town and school the year before.)

Another highlight of the first day was the impassioned, creatively chaotic talk/performance by Anne Waldman, described on the programme as "poet, performer, co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa Institute, Boulder, Colorado, and 'spiritual wife of Allen Ginsberg'", and who had also spent time on the Rolling Thunder Revue and duly appeared in Renaldo and Clara. She remains a fine, resourceful warrior for beat poetry and the counterculture.

And, in contrast, it was much to the organisers' credit that they had also invited Bobby Vee to participate, and much to his credit that he came. I was pleased to meet him, and to have him put his autograph alongside the entry on him in my own working copy of The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. I told him I'd first seen him live at Liverpool Empire in about 1961, when he was topping a bill that also featured a 16-year-old (and very charismatic) Tony Orlando, and the tremendous Clarence Frogman Henry. To my surprise and pleasure, Bobby Vee said that actually he'd been chatting to Clarence only a couple of weeks earlier. He was also kind enough, at the symposium books signing next day, to buy a copy of the Encyclopedia himself. He's in extraordinarily good shape for his age. He's two years younger than Bob Dylan - and when, at the start of his own appearance, there was a short video compilation run through his career, it was amazing to me just how young he looked when he was first a teen idol. He looked like Bambi...

More in Part 4. Meanwhile, happy Easter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, but for all of us who intended yet never followed thru with the pilgrimage to Coffman (and am kicking themselves for it)-- what unusual insight about your subject of scholarship surprised you -- surely Dylan surprised you somehow again, once ever again -- and how? (wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean (!)... your friend in Bob, Jeanne C

9:43 pm  

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