Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hit the road, Bob: Uncut maps Dylan road trip

Uncut's Dylan's America Guide.

How does it feel to be out and on your own? Like a complete unknown? With no direction home? Like a rollin' stone?

At long last, you can answer these pressing questions for yourself. The latest issue of Uncut Magazine includes a very cool map of Bob Dylan's America (above), descriptions of what went down where, the places that inspired his songs, the routes of four of his key tours, and locations in the lives of his heroes. Whew.

To the Winnipeg traveler, it's worth noting that a good 10 destinations are within a day or two's drive from the city - including Dylan's birthplace (Duluth, MN), boyhood home (Hibbing, MN), and school (the University of Minneapolis), all located along or near the famed Highway 61 (famed because it's the title of Dylan's masterpiece, Highway 61 Revisited).

I've been threatening to take this trip for years, but with the help of the Uncut map, I may finally convert my empty dreams into reality. All I need is a red Cadillac, shotgun, and case of Jack Daniel's, and I'm so there.

Additions to the map:

1. Winnipeg

Winnipeggers should start their Dylan road trip right here at home: 1123 Grosvenor in Winnipeg - Neil Young's boyhood home. Bob Dylan unexpectedly came knock, knock, knockin' at the door last year before playing a concert at MTS Centre.

This location is one of Winnipeg's most statueworthy - would someone get Leo Mol in on it? I recommend a statue of Neil Young and Bob Dylan fighting a bear; it would be symbolic (of something, I'm sure) and an instant tourist attraction.

2. Alexandria, MN

Winnipeggers should know Alexandria as the perfect mid-journey stop between Fargo and Minneapolis.

In his autobiography,"Chronicles: Volume One," Dylan recounts telling U2's Bono over beer that if he really wants to understand America, this is where he must go:

"I told him that if he wants to see the birthplace of America, he should go to Alexandria, Minnesota..where the Vikings came and settled in the 1300s."
Dylan tells Bono to follow the river "up through Winona, Lake City, Frontenac." Highway 61, in other words.

We never find out if Bono actually showed up in Alexandria, though I like the idea of U2 hanging out in the town's 24-Hour Wal-Mart and Super Target. But in 2005, NY Times columnist Steve Dougherty took Dylan's advice, and made the journey himself.

In Chronicles, Dylan remembers the wooden statue of a Viking in Alexandria - A spiritual, if goofy, relative of the stone statue in Gimli, MB? That would be Big Ole, who stands outside Alexandria's Norse Museum.

Dougherty comes face to face with the statue:

It was strange to see the fierce visage of the towering Viking exactly as described in "Chronicles." The statue was built for Minnesota's state pavilion at the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York and later bought by the town and installed outside the museum. An attention-getter in his own right, Big Ole helped draw nearly 8,000 visitors to the Runestone Museum last year.

See you on Highway 61.

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