50 Years Ago

January 31, 2011 6:07 p.m.

As a point of personal privilege, before any more time goes by, I wanted to note that a week ago (Jan. 24th, 2011) was the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s arrival in New York City. According to his memoir, he came across country from Minneapolis in a ’57 Impala (hitch-hiking, I think, though I’m not quite clear on that), across the George Washington Bridge and then immediately down to the Cafe Wha? in Greenwich village.

I was going to toss in, for what it’s worth, that that was four days after John Kennedy was sworn in as president. But when I thought about it, it seemed too complicated to figure out what it was worth, so I won’t.

For those not acquainted with the mythography, Dylan (then Bobby Zimmerman) was raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, in the so-called Iron Range, specifically the Mesabi Iron Range. Went to Minneapolis for college but didn’t go to classes and dropped out. And not too long after that to New York. As he put it in Chronicles: Volume One: “I was there to find singers, the ones I’d heard on record — Dave Van Ronk, Peggy Seeger, Ed McCurdy, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Josh White, The New Lost City Ramblers, Reverend Gary Davis and a bunch of others — most of all to find Woody Guthrie. New York City, the city that would come to shape my destiny. Modern Gomorrah. I was at the initiation point of square one but in no sense a neophyte.”

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