Bob Dylan is celebrating his 70th birthday on Tuesday and to honor the occasion the kind folks at Minnesota Public Radio have put together a documentary, "Boy from the north country: Bob Dylan in Minnesota" (to listen, click on direct audio link above or see MP3 link below). The documentary is particularly heavy with interviews from people who knew the then-Robert Zimmerman as a young man in Hibbing, Minnesota and as a student at the University of Minnesota. As such, it is refreshing compared to other biographical features about Dylan, most of which cover the same well-worn path focusing on the migration from folk singer to rock 'n' roll performer from 1963 to 1966. It's a nice look at Dylan before he was Dylan... and a survey of his Minnesota roots.
"Bobby, you know this is getting kind of loud and we do have neighbors Bob." -"Yeah, mom."
"He never washed and he had really hideous teeth... nevertheless he did have something that was quite attractive about him... he was a fascinating person who had an ability to get things from people..."
"I was young when I left home/ But I been out a-ramblin’ ‘round/ And I never wrote a letter to my home."
The documentary includes coverage of the Minneapolis recording sessions for Blood on the Tracks as described by some of the musicians.
There is also some mention of Larry Kegan, a good friend of Dylan's who passed away on Sept. 11, 2001.
The documentary ends with an alternative rendering of Bob Dylan's "Mississippi."
Bob Dylan's 70th birthday documentary from Minnesota Public Radio ("Boy from the north country: Bob Dylan in Minnesota") can also be downloaded as an mp3 (advised if you're having trouble with browser compatibility).
There was another piece in the Times today about yet another 20 percent drop in CD sales. (Are they running the same news piece every 4 months?) Jeez guys, the writing's on the wall. How long do the record execs think they'll have those offices and nice parking spaces? (Well, more than half of all record A&R and other execs are gone already, so there should be plenty of parking space). They, the big 4 or 5, should give the catalogues back to the artists or their heirs as a gesture before they close the office doors, as they sure don't know how to sell music anymore. (I have Talking Heads stuff on the shelf that I can't get Warner to release.) The "industry" had a nice 50-year ride, but it's time to move on. Luckily, music remains more or less unaffected — there is a lot of great music out there. A new model will emerge that includes rather than sues its own customers, that realizes that music is not a product in the sense of being a thing — it's closer to fashion, in that for music fans it tells them and their friends who they are, what they feel passionately about and to some extent what makes life fun and interesting. It's about a sense of community — a song ties a whole invisible disparate community together. It's not about selling the (often) shattered plastic case CDs used to come in.