Matthew R. Perrine: Like a born-again Dylan fanatic, Pt. 2 (ONLINE EXCLUSIVE)

But that's neither here nor there. I don't personally have the kind of money to "properly" honor the man (a Dylan wing at the Armory Arts & Music Center, perhaps?), and Lord knows it seems like the BDW people struggled enough just raising fun...

But that's neither here nor there. I don't personally have the kind of money to "properly" honor the man (a Dylan wing at the Armory Arts & Music Center, perhaps?), and Lord knows it seems like the BDW people struggled enough just raising funds for road signs.

Back to the matter at hand: Thompson once again opened my eyes to the brilliance of Dylan, and for that I am forever grateful.

As evidenced by my use of "once again," I wasn't always a Dylan "hater" or, perhaps even worse, someone who just shrugged when his name came up in conversation.

While my favorite Dylan quote is "If my songs were just about the words, then what was Duane Eddy, the great rock-and-roll guitarist, doing recording an album full of instrumental melodies of my songs?" (from the first installment of his memoir series, "Chronicles") -- because I couldn't agree more -- it was, indeed, his lyrics that first drew me to his records.

Now, this is the point of the journey where I wish I had something meaningful to say, some grand revelation or ... but no: The lyric that hooked me was "Everybody must get stoned," perhaps his most infamous line, from 1966's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35." I mean, of course that was the first Dylan tune I paid attention to; I was just some stupid kid in elementary school listening to the Power Loon, Brainerd's classic rock station.


Certainly the 1999 Denzel Washington film "The Hurricane" sparked my interest in the 1975 Dylan tune of the same name used throughout, and 2001's "Vanilla Sky" taught me that "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" is the definition of iconic album cover, but "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits" was the only CD of his I had for some time.

Thankfully, my experiences with the great one's music became more profound as time went on.

I really started to explore his catalog as a freshman at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Who knows what spurred this mini-fascination, but I soon found myself the proud owner of three of his landmark albums: "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," "Highway 61 Revisited" and, perhaps the most important album of all time, "Blonde on Blonde."

My love for this trio was forever cemented one fateful night on finals week in an episode of my life I can only describe as "The Freewheelin' Matthew R. Perrine" (tongue in cheek, of course).

My girlfriend at the time, who was attending college in Fargo, was already back in our hometown of Crosby. Only a few days and a few finals stood between me and moving back there for the summer, but I just couldn't wait that long.

So, late in the evening, we decide to meet halfway, putting us both in Cromwell around 10 p.m. or so. With my newly acquired Dylan albums in tow, my portable CD player hooked up to my aged Blazer's crappy stereo system, we headed out in search of ... I'm not sure exactly. (This was back when gasoline was around $1.50, so I could afford to set out, you know, sans destination.)

We ended up finding a spot near Eagle Lake to park. And this isn't code for anything; we just talked and talked for hours -- in that respect, I suppose we weren't your typical college kids -- all the while some of Dylan's most influential tunes were playing in the background, providing the soundtrack to one of the most memorable nights of my life.

There have been many Dylan moments since then (becoming mesmerized by "Honest with Me" during his sublime performance at Fargo's Newman Outdoor Field Aug. 23, 2002, for one), but they became something of a rarity once I moved back to the Zenith City in 2006.


The man definitely has his loyal followers here -- as in, one hasn't lived until they've heard Father Hennepin's cover of "Girl From the North Country" on the "Duluth Does Dylan" compilation -- but, of the people I come in contact with, just as many can't stand him or his elusive nature when it comes to the area.

Truth be told, when I pitched this column around the office, one member of our team became visibly agitated that I would even put Dylan in our paper. No joke.

And that's why I owe so much to Thompson and his book, which, if it's any indication of the spell I was under, I wasn't really even that interested in reading in the first place.

Once I heard that Thompson was available for interviews, however, I decided to take it for a spin, give it a shot ... what have you. I'm so glad I did; if there's ever a book you'd want to force people to read, it's "Positively Main Street."

Now that I know that Dylan wasn't exactly "feeling the love" as a kid in Hibbing, I can return, wholeheartedly, to those records I fell in love with seven years ago, and truly appreciate Minnesota's most important gift to the world.

How's that for a simple twist of fate?

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