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Celebrating Dylan's Duluth: On musician’s 75th birthday, new marker is unveiled at his first home

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People gather for a celebration Tuesday in front of the home on Third Avenue East in Duluth where Bob Dylan lived until he was 6 years old. Tuesday was Dylan's 75th birthday. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)2 / 3
This historical marker created by artist David Everett was unveiled during a celebration Tuesday at the home in Duluth where musician Bob Dylan lived until he was 6 years old. Tuesday was Dylan's 75th birthday. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com) 3 / 3

The ceremony to unveil an outsized coin-like marker in the front walk of Bob Dylan's first home in Duluth's Central Hillside stopped Lindsay Munson in her tracks.

Jogging in the alley facing the yellow duplex that was restored to honor its significance to the Dylan legacy, Munson yielded Tuesday to a crowd that was swelling into the street outside the home at 519 N. Third Ave. E.

"I've heard of him," said the College of St. Scholastica student from Pierz, Minn., who was moved to a halt by the attention paid to the landmark by about 70 people, including a porch band, the Déjà vu Drifters, playing the hits. "I like the band; it's the stuff my parents listen to."

The musician's 75th birthday Tuesday, coupled with Duluth Dylan Fest, which continues through Sunday, made for a crowd hip to share in Duluth's relationship with the prolific and notoriously private artist.

Though Dylan never looked back on his rocket to fame, it's incorrect to say he doesn't warm to thoughts of his birthplace, said John Bushey, a Dylan aficionado and master of ceremonies at Tuesday's event.

"He's here one or two times a year," Bushey said of Dylan. "We hear; we really do."

The program featured a number of speakers under the sun who were at the mercy of the nearby hospital helipad belonging to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center, where Dylan was born.

"Part of the Hillside experience," former Mayor Don Ness said of the Life Link III blades rotating overhead.

Dylan is said to have lived in the home from 1941-47; Bushey said more and more people from around the globe incorporate the home into their trek to Hibbing to see where the singer-songwriter spent his formative years sharpening his legendary sensibilities prior his breakthrough.

Duluth's Judy Mitchell wore a wide-brim hat with a drawstring under her chin and a Dylan T-shirt to Tuesday's gathering. She said five of the eight siblings in her family gravitated to the songwriter. Sixty-two percent sounded about right as far as an approval rate to her. "I grew up on 'Lay Lady Lay,'" she said.

Duluth artist David Everett made the sidewalk monument, casting it at the University of Minnesota. "In Bob We Trust," it reads.

"I'm honored to be part of the Bob Dylan legacy," he said.

Hibbing resident and Dylan memorabilia collector Bill Pagel, who stays in the duplex he restored when he's in town, said Dylan was born sometime between 9:03 and 9:04 p.m.

"Within the minute," he said. When asked how he knew, he added, "I've got a copy of his birth certificate. Doesn't everybody?"

Not Munson, who sounded on the crest of finding Dylan in her own way.

"I'm going to go look him up," she said. "Definitely."

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