Can the Roots of Greatness be Found in Bob Dylan's Minnesota Hometown?

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tags: music, popular culture, Bob Dylan

Crossing main street, the wind tries to cut your legs out from under you. In the stiff chill of a Minnesota morning, even looking both ways before crossing is a struggle. One way is enough.

The Hibbing Public Library is just opening its doors, and an out-of-towner approaching the front desk can mean only one thing. A gracious young woman behind the counter quickly gets on the intercom. “Can someone please open up the Bob Dylan room?”

Always bound by destiny, Dylan admittedly couldn’t get out of this small mining town fast enough. It makes me feel good, though, that the residents still take pride in their treasures from the life of the wiry Robert Allen Zimmerman, who spent many formative and formidable days growing up on Hibbing’s streets.

Library specialist April Fountain lowers her voice to let me know that, out of curiosity, she took one of those ancestry DNA tests to see if she had a link to Dylan. “Saliva and all,” she says. “I don’t have any real validation. I mean, nothing official, but it shows that we’re related. ”

A gentleman standing in the lobby overhears us speaking of Bob Dylan and abruptly asks, “Why does he always snub Hibbing?”

Dylan has said that people can be born in the wrong place with the wrong name and the wrong parents, but in recent years he’s acknowledged that his Iron Range roots and upbringing have had an immeasurable impact on his life. I’m trying to think of how to best explain that to the man, but having said what he wanted to say, the man walks off without another word. Whether they like it or not, everyone born in this town who has stayed the course is now a descendant of Bob Dylan, with or without a saliva test.

“I wrote him a letter,” Fountain says. “Never heard back.”

Another library worker directs me to the stairs leading to the lower level of the building. The atmosphere below is more basement than an extension of the well-kept library above. Bargain books sit in bins on one end. A narrow hallway lined with coat hangers leads to an open door. A broom and dustpan haphazardly lean near a placard pointing to the “BOB DYLAN EXHIBIT.”

The modest presentation would be fitting if you didn’t account for the past 60-plus years of his life spent contemplating where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going, and turning it into art for the ages. A mosaic of a man, when it comes to truth and matters of the heart, Bob Dylan is the best time capsule we have.

Read entire article at Washington Post