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Continued: June 22, 1986: The many faces of Bob Dylan

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 22, 1986 - 5:45 PM

A young woman runs up and embraces Dylan, who cooperates reluctantly, then continues walking - down the stairs to the dressing room.

The sunglasses, blue jeans and motorcycle boots come off. Dylan slips into his leather pants, white socks and Beatle boots. His wardrobe assistant shows him how to tie the decorative laces on the seams of the pants around his boots.

"I need a scarf," he tells her. "It's going to be windy tonight, right? My head gets wet. How 'bout that red one?"

She fetches a red plaid scarf from a wardrobe trunk, and he ties it around his head and looks into a mirror. The assistant suggests a hat. They compromise by tying the scarf around the singer's neck.

But first, he needs a shirt. She proffers a white basketball undershirt. He holds it up, pronounces it "OK" and then asks for something else to wear over it. They settle on a black leather vest.

 

Dylan pours himself a Jim Beam and water and asks, "What time it is?"

Bob Dylan spent his first 19 years in Minnesota. He was born in Duluth, moved to Hibbing when he was 5 or 6 and later attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis for a year. He maintains homes in New York and California, and he gets back to Minnesota two or three times a year, he says; his mother lives in St. Paul and his brother in a Minneapolis exurb.

What does Minnesota mean to this famous native son?<>

"The trees and the lakes and the clouds," he says. "And when I was growing up, the trains."

When Dylan started recording for Columbia Records in 1962 he never figured he would have the impact and influence he has had on the intellectual and artistic fabric of his times. He says he doesn't spend much time acknowledging that significance, but ponders the subject "just in passing moments."

His 28 albums have sold more than 35 million copies and his songs have been recorded by thousands of singers, but Dylan hasn't had a hit song or a best-selling record in the 1980s. It doesn't bother him that he's no longer in the forefront of popular music.

"There is a myth in the music business that you need to be platinum and double platinum (with sales of 1 million and 2 million albums)," he says. "Neil Diamond doesn't sell (records), but how many nights did he play in the (St. Paul) Civic Center? Two? Three? (Diamond played two concerts there last December.)

"Music is a live thing," Dylan says. "On records, it's something else. For me, it's always of the moment. It always adapts to your character of the moment. That's why I can't get away from it."

On his 1980 tour Dylan shocked his fans by performing a concert of entirely new, gospel-flavored material and eschewing two decades' worth of songs that had made him famous. He says he has no problem singing songs like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" that he wrote more than 20 years ago.

"They're not old songs if you're still singing them," he says. "`The Star Spangled Banner' - now that's an old song. So is, uh, `Auld Lang Syne."'

Dylan's legions and social commentators have long made much ado about his religious views. Is he a born-again Christian or is he reasserting his Judaism, the religion in which he was raised? It seems he has had a strong interest in spirituality and then pursued studies from the perspectives of different religious groups.

When did his interest in spirituality start?

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