From humble beginnings in Minnesota to the world renown superstar he is today, Spencer draws us into Dylan’s world, traversing Highway 61 and Route 66 whilst recollecting Dylan’s quote to Sam Shepard (Esquire magazine, 1987), ‘You always know who you are. I just don’t know who I’m gonna become.’
Spencer provides us with a wealth of information, not only about Dylan but about the performers of the 50’s and 60’s such as The Andrews Sisters and Bobby Vee, filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen and shows such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and their connections to Dylan’s place of birth, Minnesota. He describes Dylan’s early life and how it influenced his songs and his poetry. He records how Dylan writes directly about Hibbing on the liner notes for The Times They Are A-Changin’ and also in his sardonic poem, ‘My Life in a Stolen Moment’ (1962). Additionally, the main character in his book, Tarantula (1965), talks about making a Faustian pact to escape. Spencer cites that, “Even when you hate somewhere, something or someone, it can have a bearing on what you write and Bob Dylan is living proof of that”.
Conflicting information about Dylan, such as an old driving licence reproduced on a collage on the cover of the first volume of The Bootleg Series (1991) stating Bob’s date of birth as 11th May 1941, (he was born 13 days later) and also giving his adult height as 5 foot 11 inches, when he is three inches shorter, all adds to the intrigue surrounding Dylan and his mystique.
Dylan’s long and illustrious career is the envy of the musical world. After breaking through the folk scene of New York in the early sixties he found national and then international fame as the voice of the protest movement.
Spencer cites Dylan’s influences as being John Steinbeck after reading his novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1955), singers, Johnnie Ray, Hank Williams, Elvis, Little Richard and of course, Woody Guthrie
BOB DYLAN OUTLAW BLUES Anne Pritchard 9/06/2020
and American actors, James Dean and Marlon Brando. Probably Dylan’s passion for motorbikes ignited after seeing Brando in The Wild One as he got his first Harley Davidson bike in 1956.