“I’ll give you a medal if you get out alive.”

“You’ll never see another town like Duluth.  It’s not a tourist destination, but it probably should be.  Depends what season you’re in there, though.  There are only two seasons:  damp and cold.  I like the way the hills tumble to the waterfront and the way the wind blows around the grain elevators. The train yards go on forever, too.  It’s old-age industrial, that’s what it is.  You’ll see it from the top of the hill for miles and miles before you get there.  You won’t believe your eyes.  I’ll give you a medal if you get out alive.”

Bob Dylan,
Rolling Stone #1078, May 14, 2009

28 Comments

Rich

about 11 years ago

It sounds as though he was last here in 1947.

edgeways

about 11 years ago

I think someone already posted this.

Swan

about 11 years ago

Where's my medal Bob?

adam

about 11 years ago

He played July 3, 1999, at Bayfront Park.

May 10, 2009, Chicago Tribune story here. Excerpt below:

The road [Hwy. 61], it turns out, is even more colorful than the music it inspired. A trip up Minnesota 61, from Duluth to the Canadian border, will introduce you to sailors, strippers, fishermen, brewers and artists.

Mary

about 11 years ago

Sorry if someone already posted it--I must've missed that.

not_hater

about 11 years ago

Bob Dylan's Picture of Duluth = 1920s Duluth

not_hater

about 11 years ago

Damn, I didn't see Rich's comment.

Let me say first that I am a fan of Bob Dylan's music. but...


Why does everyone think this fake cowboy likes Duluth? He played here once in the last 25 years and there is adulation deserving of someone that actually gives a shit. He always talks shit about the northland saying that it is backwater and boring. Can someone write this bastard a letter and stop being a dick instead of erecting false impressions of him.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

Speaking of false impressions, Dylan has played Duluth twice in the past 25 years.

wildgoose

about 11 years ago

I know he's been here a couple of times, I saw the show in '99 even.  But still, I agree with Rich.  Classic baby boomer, stuck in the 1950s.  Their calcified formative memories don't go much past the Johnson administration and I guess Bob isn't any different.

Can't believe he actually did an interview, though.  The armory folks must be beside themselves.

wildgoose

about 11 years ago

Still, that line "I'll give you a medal if  you get out alive" is a new classic, and it really does fit, this is still a very insular place that "traps" people, even 50 years later.  And that's how it is with Bob, for an off-the-cuff remark he really did nail it.  He's got poetry coming out of his pores, and that's why everyone loves him, even if he is truly a dick about his roots sometimes.  (or should that be "often")

Tim K

about 11 years ago

I remember seeing Bob Dylan a couple of times when I was a young teen (early 70s). He'd stop in Duluth on his way to visit relatives in Hibbing. It was mostly errand kind of stuff- popping into the bank, stopping at the old Snyder Drug on Superior street. Most people have a certain view of the place where they grew up and couldn't wait to leave. Picasso said no one in Spain would take him seriously as an artist, so he had to go to Paris. Jesus even said that no one believes the prophet in his home town. You gotta remember that a lot of people HATED the lanky kid with the nasal voice- until he moved away and got famous. (There are still plenty of haters here behind the taconite curtain, but maybe not as many).

davids

about 11 years ago

"the taconite curtain"--I love it!

adam

about 11 years ago

It wouldn't let me attribute it to Tim K, but here it is. (Should be up in a day or two.)

Tim K

about 11 years ago

I didn't come up with that expression- but I do recall it being used a lot during the Reagan years when the economy was in the crapper.

Cathyp

about 11 years ago

Fond insults wrapped in poetry...He obviously has complicated feelings about Duluth.

Nate

about 11 years ago

If you read the article it's Bob talking about looking for inspiration where other great artists were inspired (Neil Young, Buddy Holly, Kerouac, etc).  He also says he's fine with people tracking down the places of his youth in Duluth/Hibbing.  

He speaks of Duluth like its one of the few places that has yet to be spoiled and that has retained its character.  That is compliment that seems to be lost on many Duluthians. 

I really don't understand why there is so much negativity.  What do you want him to do smile for a VisitDuluth billboard?  That's not his style.

He's quirky and unusual and doesn't say much about his personal life.  But he is also brilliant, loved by millions around the world, and has arguably been the most influential American artist of the past 100 years.  

I'm glad he pointed out to the world what is unique and charming about Duluth.  This place shaped who he is and the amazing things he's done and I'm proud to say we come from the same place!

Todd Gremmels

about 11 years ago

I can not say what the man means but I would venture to say the he is touched by Duluth's natural glory and that even he has been changed by this place forever; as we all have had our molecules rearainged through Gichi Gami's water and been inspired by its presence.


Peace

Todd Gremmels

about 11 years ago

Hey wildgoose I think that I agree with you on this one and need to quote Thelonius Monk "The person that is most creative is the person that is closest to themselves" Bob is right there with himself!

peace

eco eco

about 11 years ago

I don't get what people object to in that comment, or what they think is no longer true, or the mentality that so often insults him for daring to think there's more to the world than the local area. Damp, cold, wind, hills, waterfront, grain elevators, train yards, view from the road, old industrial appearance--yep, all still here. And though it has become a local tourist destination, I often wonder why it isn't more of a national one which may be what he meant.

Chris

about 11 years ago

I think that the comment about getting a medal if you get out alive can be interpreted a few different ways.  It could mean were a bunch of insular hicks too stupid to get out, like someone suggested.  Or it could mean this is a ruggedly beautiful region that is exceedingly hard to pick up an leave.  No offense to anyone here, but nobody I've ever come across has more than a 5% chance of truly getting inside the mind of Dylan and saying unequivocally what he meant by a quote, a poem, or his lyrics.  Being a glass half-full guy, I'll take his quote as a compliment.

wildgoose

about 11 years ago

Yeah, this is turning out to be another great discussion.

I think Bob is just great, btw. A la Nate, Todd, and even Not_hater.  But I appreciated very, very much Tim K's insights about "seeing Bob" around town and CathyP's thoughts on his ambivalence (although note to Tim K wasn't that "Snyder Drug" actually on 4th street, where the "new" Twins bar is now?  If it was, I love the image of Bob shuffling around in the hillside, much ado about nothing)

Funny thing from eco eco's note here is that while he/she nails it with the analysis of Duluth's panoramic view, all of that is indeed still here, but ... I find it noteworthy that our transportation and industrial infrastructure has essentially been in a free fall since he left and what is left is more an homage to the past, than the reality of the present.  Also, a lot of what has "replaced" those jobs has been wait for it ... tourism.  

So that's another 2 cents from me.  And this is just another great example of a great PDD discussion.  

Love,

Wild Goose

amy a.

about 11 years ago

he's just perpetuating the own myth of his upbringing. 
he comes up here more than he lets on - the wife of his english teacher told me he would come up every year to have dinner with them in hibbing, and wasn't it less than 4 years ago when he was buying chris monroe t-shirts at bullseye?
i've seen prince up here more than once as well.

frankenbeans

about 11 years ago

I love this quote, and don't understand the negative reaction from some of the first comments. I think it's impressive coming from a fella who has seen every town on earth. This one has obviously stuck with him. I'd also like to note that he's not being judgemental, just describing what he sees. Everybody sees what they want to in a town.

Somewhat related-- anybody know where to find photos of the Cash/Young concert? That felt like a small piece of the kind of magic Bob's help inspire. Nice job all.

mevdev

about 11 years ago

I saw the Dylan exhibit last year at the Weisman (U of M museum) http://www.weisman.umn.edu/pdf/Dylan_Press%20Release.pdf

Not only was it great that they included stuff from people in Hibbing, but they had a bunch of video exhibits and a wall that had a couple hundred singles of other pop stars doing his songs. A mere push of a button would queue up the track.

There was a profound lack of anything *new*. I know that it was a retrospective of 1956-1966, but to an ignorant observer it would seem that he died right after that period.

Perhaps this taconite curtain insulates us from the crap of pop music today. Duluth has such a lively and inventive set of musical groups. Musicians can reinvent themselves year after year and actually be able to play in bars and clubs. I laud any bands that make it out from behind our insular walls. 

So, when is Bob coming back to play a concert?

jamie

about 11 years ago

The other day I listened to Dylan's 2001 album "Love and Theft", starting on track 2, and it sounded oh so good.  That album is underrated.  I had to turn the bass down a little bit in the car though.

The Big E

about 11 years ago

I want a Taconite Curtain t-shirt.

heysme

about 11 years ago

I may be mistaken but I believe it was the Average Guys on Pact Tv were discussing Dylan, the Rolling Stone article, and how great it would be if he would stop at Wade Stadium this summer while touring the smaller baseball stadiums.

Todd Gremmels

about 11 years ago

I forgot to write about my Dylan story. I was working backstage as EMS support and got within handshaking distance of Paul Simon and Bob. After gaining eye contact with Bob I told him I was one hellava fan;after the comment and while shakeing Bob's hand I looked and Paul Simon and said-ya you too. The both of them laughed and I offered up my fanny pack. Bob said "I'm good man!"

True story,

Peace

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