Bob dylan ‘s footsteps Hibbing Part-1

41-Gust and Amelia Maki grave, 1905. Maki is a Finnish surname meaning hill.

Gust and Amelia Maki grave, 1905. Maki is a Finnish surname meaning “hill”.

A grove is a group of Druids which has been established, and has a third order Druid as its Arch-Druid. The Maki’s were in Hickory Grove Number 45.

The town i was born in holds no memories
but for the honkin foghorns
the rainy mist
an the rocky cliffs
I have carried no feelings
up past the lake superior hills
the town i grew up in is the one
that has left me with my legacy visions
it was not a rich town
it was not a poor town
and my parents were not poor
it was a dyin town
(it was a dyin town)
a train line cuts the ground
showin where the fathers and mothers
of me an my friends had picked
up a moved from
north Hibbing
t south Hibbing
old north Hibbing…
already dead
with it’s stone courthouse
decayin in the wind
long abandoned
windows crashed out
the breath of it’s broken walls
being smothered in clingin moss
the old school
where my mother went to
rottin shiverin but still livin
standin cold an lonesome
arms cut off
with even the moon bypassin it’s jagged body
prtendin not t see
an givin it it’s final dignity
dogs howled over the graveyard
where even the markin stones were dead
an there was no sound except for the wind
blowin thru the high grass
and the bricks that fell back
t the dirt from a slight stab
of the breeze…it was as tho
the rains of wartime had
left the land bombed out an shattered
south Hibbing
is where everybody came t start their
town again. but the winds of the
north came followin an grew fiercer
as the years went by
but i was so young
as so i ran
an kept runnin…

I am still runnin I guess
but my road has seen many changes
for i’ve served my time as a refugee
in mental terms an in physical terms
an many a fear has vanished
an many an attitude has fallen
an many a dream has faded
an i know I shall meet the snowy North
again — but with changed eyes nex time round
t walk lazily down it’s streets
an linger by the edge of town
find old friends if they’re still around
talk t the old people
an the young people
running yes…
but stoppin for a while
embracin what I left
an lovin it — for i learned by now
never t expect
what it can not give me

Pharaoh / Sun Ra (El Saturn Records)

I, Pharaoh / Sun Ra (El Saturn Records)

Sun Ra’s symbol would have been well known to young Bob Zimmerman.

Sun Ra, born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony’r Ra (1914 – 1993) was a jazz composer, band-leader and piano player from Birmingham, Alabama. Ra is the ancient Egyptian sun god. He was associated with the falcon. In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the god Horus. Humans were created from Ra’s tears.The sun is Ra’s eye.

Sun Ra and his band wore Egyptian-styled costumes and headdresses, a part of Sun Ra’s abiding fascination with ancient Egypt.

Sun Ra denied any connection with his birth name, saying “That’s an imaginary person, never existed … Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym.” From the mid-1950s to his death in 1993, Sun Ra led “The Arkestra”, an ensemble with an ever-changing line-up. For decades, very little was known about Sun Ra’s early life, much of it being obscured by Sun Ra himself. He routinely gave evasive, contradictory or seemingly nonsensical answers to personal questions and even denied his birth name. His birthday for years remained unknown.

Tom Wilson, one of Bob’s record producers, had started his career with his own record company — Transition Records — which had released Sun Ra’s first vinyl LP.

Sun Ra recorded dozens of singles and over one hundred full-length albums, comprising well over 1,000 songs, and making him one of the most prolific recording artists of the 20th century.

As a synthesizer and electric keyboard player, Sun Ra ranks among one of the earliest and most radical pioneers. By the mid-1950s, he used a variety of electric keyboards, and almost immediately, he exploited their potential, sometimes modifying them himself to produce sounds. His live albums from the late 1960s and early 1970s feature some of the noisiest, most bizarre keyboard work ever recorded!

Do you think Bob was influenced by Sun Ra? Maybe.

Bob Dylan falcon eye symbol

Bob Dylan falcon eye symbol (1995- )

The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health. Horus is the ancient Egyptian sky god usually depicted as a falcon. His right eye was associated with the sun Ra.

The eye symbol represents the marking around the eye of the falcon, including the “teardrop” marking sometimes found below the eye.

The teardrop, the dark streak of feathers beneath the falcon’s eye, is called a malar (cheek) stripe. The biological theory for this feature is that, much like athletes putting blacking under their eyes to prevent glare, this also prevents glare from reflecting off their feathers.

The crown is the symbol of King Messiah. Chabad messianism, or Lubavitch messianism, is a spectrum of beliefs within the Hasidic movement of Chabad-Lubavitch regarding their late leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson and his status as the Messiah.

If the land of Egypt were to be conquered by a Jewish king under the guidance of a Sanhedrin (סַנְהֶדְרִין) assembly, the prohibition against returning to Egypt would no longer apply. This is because at that point it would start being considered part of the Land of Israel.

On the tape made with his school friend John Bucklen in 1958 we hear exactly what Bob thought about Johnny Cash then

On the tape made with his school friend John Bucklen in 1958 we hear exactly what Bob thought about Johnny Cash then:

Bucklen: You think singing is just jumping around and screaming?
Dylan: You gotta have some kind of expression.
Bucklen: Johnny Cash has got expression.
Dylan: There’s no expression! [sings imitation in slow monotone]: ‘I met her at a dance St. Paul Minnesota . . . I walk the line, because you’re mine, because you’re mine . . .’
Bucklen: You’re doing it wrong, you’re just—What’s the best kind of music?
Dylan: Rhythm & blues.
Bucklen: State your reason in no less than twenty-five minutes!
Dylan: Ah, rhythm & blues you see is something that you really can’t quite explain see. When you hear a song rhythm & blues—when you hear it’s a good rhythm & blues song, chills go up your spine . . .
Bucklen: Whoa-o-o!
Dylan: . . . when you hear a song like that. But when you hear a song like Johnny Cash, whaddaya wanna do? You wanna leave . . .’

By 2004, in Chronicles, Dylan was saying that ‘I Walk the Line’ was ‘a song I’d always considered to be up there at the top, one of the most mysterious and revolutionary of all time’. After his death, Bob Dylan said: ‘Johnny was and is the North Star. You could guide your ship by him—the greatest of the greats then and now.’

The power of television was illustrated in 1993 when a BBC-TV documentary team visited Minnesota and were offered something that not even Robert Shelton’s assiduous and privileged researches had managed to discover—a tape made at Bob’s own boyhood home in 1958 (long before he was Bob Dylan) with one of Shelton’s interviewees, Bob’s ‘best buddy’, John Bucklen.

This features Bob Zimmerman the rock’n’roller, playing piano and guitar and singing snatches of five songs (with some shared vocals by Bucklen) interspersed with conversation between the two. The songs are ‘Little Richard’ (composed by Dylan), ‘Buzz Buzz Buzz’ (a hit for the Hollywood Flames in late 1957 to early 1958), ‘Jenny, Jenny’ (a Little Richard song), ‘We Belong Together’ (a minor chart hit in March that year for an adenoidal black harmony duo from the Bronx called Robert & Johnny, i.e. Robert Carr and Johnny Mitchell) and the unknown ‘Betty Lou’ (sometimes listed wrongly as ‘Blue Moon’). Four were first heard, though incompletely, on BBC-TV’s excellent ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, first broadcast in the UK on May 8, 1993.

Bucklen, John [1941 – ]

John Charles Bucklen was born in Bemidji, Minnesota, on December 20, 1941, but soon afterwards moved the 100 miles or so east to Hibbing. There he became a good friend of Bob’s, the one with whom he made the 1958 tape recording at Dylan’s home featuring fragments of song and of conversation , and the one Dylan phoned up excitedly when he first heard the 78rpm records of Leadbelly he’d been given, to shout down the phone: ‘This is the real thing! You gotta hear this!’

John Bucklen was younger than Bob by eight months and a high-school year below him, but he was, in his own words, ‘a born follower’; Bob also liked the easier atmosphere in the impoverished Bucklen household, with its lesser emphasis on ‘achievement’ and ‘discipline’. John’s father was a disabled miner and a musician, his mother a seamstress, his sister Ruth a lively girl with a record player. Trying out the hipster language they learnt together from James Dean movies and the radio, Bob told John: ‘You are my main man.’ As they grew up, music held them together, and Bucklen, though without his friend’s ambition, nevertheless learnt guitar—playing it alongside Bob’s piano—and before long Bucklen was playing blues on the 1959 Gibson J-50 he still plays regularly today. (Bob played an identical guitar in the late 1960s.)

Bob Dylan told Robert Shelton in the 1970s that Bucklen had really been his ‘best buddy’ back in Hibbing, and regretted having been ‘terribly rushed, terribly busy’ when they’d last met. John Bucklen left Hibbing and became a DJ, first in the Twin Cities and then in Fond Du Lac in Wisconsin in the late 1960s. He and his first wife La- Vonne had one child, Chris, now a Minnesota based ambient folk guitarist. John moved on to DJ work in Superior, Wisconsin, in 1971 and then, with second wife Gracie (with whom he has three children), he moved again, though still within Wisconsin, in 1977. He has worked for the same radio station there ever since, claims never to have missed a day of work in 30 years and is, in son Chris’ opinion, ‘an excellent blues musician’.

Gray, Michael. The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. New York: Continuum, 2006, 0826469337, page 103.

Bob Zimmerman May 1959
Bob Zimmerman May 1959

Kangas, Ric [1939 – ]

Richard Kangas was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, on October 20, 1939. (As he grew up he was known as Dick but today gives his name as Ric.) His mother was a housewife, his father a miner in the Hull Rust iron-ore mines who had previously been a copper and silver miner (and in his youth a lumberjack in the Northern Minnesota Woods).

Two years ahead of Bob Zimmerman at Hibbing High School, Ric left in summer 1957, before the two had ever knowingly met. Bob would come to put as his ‘Ambition’ in the 1959 school yearbook ‘To join Little Richard’. Kangas wrote the parallel ‘to be another Elvis’. Like Bob, he too belaboured the gorgeous auditorium of Hibbing High School with early rock’n’roll at a school concert, singing and playing the brand-new ‘All Shook Up’ with a borrowed guitar and amp.

Ric and Bob met around town in Hibbing sometime in 1958. ‘I hear you’re a songwriter. So am I,’ Bob said. Ric says the two played together at town hall talent contents and house parties, and auditioned (without success) for the Hibbing Winter Frolic, a big annual pageant, fair and festive event in the town that drew people in from all over the Great North Woods.

Their most significant musical collusion occurred in May 1959. Kangas had bought a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and the two of them got together in his bedroom, set it up and recorded four songs. When I Got Troubles, Teen Love Serenade (a short excerpt is featured in the “No Direction Home” film), and two other songs, I Wish I Knew (song by Ric Kangas with Bob backing), and The Frog Song (a song by Bob with Clarence “Frogman” Henry-style vocals). Ric Kangas appears in the film No Direction Home showing us the tape-recorder on which ‘Bob Zimmerman’, wanted to know how he sounded. One track mentioned and excerpted on the film, ‘When I Got Troubles’, is released complete on the Bootleg Series Vol. 7 — No Direction Home: the Soundtrack, and the notes suggest that it is ‘most likely the first original song recorded by Bob Dylan ’— though this cannot be true, granted that the No Direction Home film’s credits claim/confirm that ‘Little Richard’, on the 1958 John Bucklen tape, was also composed by Dylan.

Back then, beyond their musical bond was the fact that Kangas had a 1953 Ford (after ‘totalling’ his 1950 Oldsmobile). It’s easy to see why the younger boy would want them to hang out together—and Kangas says they’d cruise around on summer nights drinking gin and orange juice, picking up girls and driving out to necking spots like Snowball Lake; it’s not so clear why Kangas wanted to have Bob in tow. Ric was driving a truck for Kelly Furniture from 1957 till 1960 (a truck that was parked in a warehouse across the alley from the Zimmerman home); for most of that time Bob was still at school. At any rate, Bob would get Ric to drive him around, and one day their destination was local radio station WMFG. It was the start of their destinies dividing. Dylan played some material to DJ Ron Marinelli and was given some airtime on the strength of it; Kangas’ tapes were rejected.

They drifted apart when Dylan went off to the University of Minnesota and Ric Kangas got a steady girlfriend out in Eveleth, another taconite mining town some 20 miles away. He’d traded in his Ford for a Harley Davison too, and wouldn’t let anyone else drive that. He says Dylan would sit on the gleaming bike in the Kangas driveway, pretending to be Marlon Brando in The Wild One. Dylan went off to New York City; Kangas got a gig as lead singer for a group from Superior, Wisconsin, the Sonics. This didn’t last, and he was drafted into the US Army, serving from January 18, 1962 till December 17, 1963, stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado. He moved to Tennessee around 1966.

About a year later, Kangas moved again, this time to Southern California. He’s since moved around within the Golden State but lives there still. He’s been a Hollywood extra, a stuntman, a magician, a photographer, a portrait sketcher and a wildlife painter. He never quite gives up—even after writing, he says, 900 songs without ever releasing an album. Dryly he calls himself ‘Hibbing’s other songwriter.’

In the late 1990s, Kangas was living in Acton, just south of Lancaster, when he mentioned his 1959 Dylan tape to a banking acquaintance who happened to know Jeff Rosen, who runs Dylan’s office and archive. Rosen phoned, got to hear the tape and eventually brought a film crew out to film a four-hour interview with Ric. About seven years later Rosen called again to say that he and the tape were going to feature in the Martin Scorsese movie, and that one of the songs would be on the soundtrack CD set too. Kangas told the Minnesota newspaper the Ventura County Star that he was paid ‘a guitar, a small royalty cut from the CD and some up-front cash’. He ‘declined to discuss monetary specifics.’ On October 1, 2005, soon after the movie opened, he offered the original reel of tape for auction on eBay (item _7550832002) with an ill-advised reserve 370 price of $1.5 million. The auction ended October 11 with no bids.

Quoting Ric’s schooldays ambition ‘to be another Elvis’, the Star reporter notes that in a way he’s made it: these days Ric Kangas is an active performing member of the Professional Elvis Impersonators Association.

Kangas remembers another declaration from Hibbing days too: ‘Bob always used to tell us, ‘‘When I make it, I’ll send for you. We’ll all walk down Hollywood Boulevard and we’ll be stars.’’’ Kangas, deadpan, adds: ‘I’m still waiting for that call.’

Gray, Michael. The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. New York: Continuum, 2006, 0826469337, page 369f.





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  1. Odessa is a Ukrainian sea gates on the Black Sea now and has no such hard winters as Russia. Ukrainian climate is milder. And. by the way, life in Hibbing was very close to the life we have in Lugansk and Donetsk regions. Anyway, a great article!

  2. Excellent article!! It’s ALWAYS good to be informed about the roots of the GREATEST SONGWRITER TO EVER BE BORN!!! B-O-B D-Y-L-A-N

  3. Loved the article . What a great family history no wonder he is the great Bobby Dylan. destined for success and greatness.

  4. I moved to Hibbing in the early 60’s when I was 16 years old. Bob had already ventured away from the town. I actually saw him in the school though. He was just at the beginning of his fame and I really didn’t know much about him and wasn’t impressed when he walked past my locker and said hi to Susie Storm who was his next door neighbor. I saw his mother in the clothing store where she worked and I met his brother David when he was driving around town offering rides in the yellow convertible that Bob had bought him. I did see him in 1976 for the Bicentennial Celebration in Hibbing. His brother David was preforming at the high school by directing a concert. I had moved to CA by that time but me, my husband and children had come to Hibbing to visit my dad. That night, I was sitting in the balcony area with my husband and by that time we were both big fans of Dylan. Bob was also sitting in the balcony with his children who were playing in the rows of empty seats. My husband and I were mesmerized – Bob Dylan….. but we respected his privacy. At one point that night I got up to go to the rest room and as I was walking down the hall of the school Bob walked by in the other direction all alone. He has the bluest of blue eyes and we looked at each other and he smiled. He would have talked to me but I was so shy and so I missed my chance – I still cringe after all these years that I didn’t talk to him. I will always remember my close encounter with him that night. He was not mobbed in Hibbing because he was so different and not appreciated for his brilliance. I understand that he used to perform in the high school talent shows and was booed off stage. I wish that my family had moved to Hibbing sooner so I could have known him. I would just love to talk with him – he is a treasure. I just finished watching the documentary on Netflix about Rolling Thunder and in watching it last night brought back such emotion that I had been so near but yet so far. Just loving Bob Dylan.

  5. Our son, Benjamin, gave us a pair of concert tix to see Bob Dylan back in the early 90’s in Tallahassee FL. He had saved his lunch money to purchase them and give us as a present. Benjamin loved concerts and would invite me to go along with him and his friends to see Nirvana which was so cool yet I didn’t realize until years later. My husband, Charlie, was a huge Dylan fan and had followed him since the 60’s. He turned me on to some good music one night and I heard Lay Lady Lay for the very first time. Well, the concert was outstanding and a night not to be forgotten. I was right up close to the stage and could feel Bob Dylan’s breath singing all his greatest. I have been in love ever since! I have to listen to him every night before going to sleep. Never ever forgot how great it was to see Bobby Zimmerman on stage.

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