We spent the morning touring the beautiful Madison campus from Bascom Hill to the lakeside terrace, and then peeked in on the spectacular marble statehouse on the other end of State St. Inside the now famous rotunda where we all watched chanting thousands on TV, there is now one woman with a sign calling Governor Walker a liar and demanding that he be indicted. We gave her the thumbs up. Inside one of the men’s room, hard by a row of urinals, we bumped into a state assemblyman. We considered talking politics, finding out which side he was on, but decided to just praise the building to his delight.
There is no way to prettify what followed. It was a long-ass haul from Madison to Duluth, some 350 miles through 100 degree heat. But don’t feel two badly for these two travelers because we did our hauling and hurtling in our air-conditioned bubble. Within it we read the last of Shelton’s chapters on Dylan’s Hibbing Years (Lots of quotes from Mom & Dad Zimmerman), read excerpts from Whitman’s Song of Myself (in Leaves of Grass) to compare the images and language therein with those of Dylan’s songs, and to see how the Beat influence on Dylan may well have be traced back to Whitman’s redefinition of poetry, it language, content, and style. (Our pal Google informs us that Dylan has actually cited Whitman as an influence and inspiration). We also listened to and compared the earliest versions of Dylan’s songs on the “Whitmark Demos” with some of the same songs on the Freewheeling Bob album (the album with the fabulous picture of Bob and Suze Rotolo), and found that we liked both. Heard some rare songs on the Whitmark collection as well. We both really liked Paths to Victory, a song that combines the hopefulness of left wing politics, a hymnal and spiritual church song.
We arrived in Duluth around 6:30 pm after a drive that seemed to go to the end of the earth, culminating in a powerful view of the industrial north country as we came into Lake Superior (“By the shores of Gitche Gumee…”) and Duluth. We semi-got lost due to some road construction detours but finally found the one bridge that would carry us across. We went downtown to find a restaurant, and saw a few folks were playing acoustic instruments outside. Bill thought one song sounded like a Woody Guthrie tune. After we ate, Bill asked one the musicians about the song and said he didn’t know the Guthrie song Bill thought he was playing, but they had in fact played three Guthrie songs while Bill and Larry were inside demolishing some fajitas. They said they were aware it was the 100th anniversary of Guthrie’s birth. They went on to tell us that there was a big folk scene in Duluth. Bill asked if this was part of the Dylan legacy (Bob spent the first 6 years of his life here), but the young man said he didn’t think so. He actually wasn’t sure why folk was big here. (Perhaps because there is a branch of the university in town?) Another musician told us something we already knew: there has been a Dylan festival for the past couple of years, though the man himself has never showed up. We may check out some Dylan sites tomorrow.
We got back to our hotel hoping to view once again a fine Scorsese documentary about Dylan, something to pump us up even more as we prepared to head to Hibbing tomorrow. But our evening got chewed up trying to find some place to stay in the Hibbing area. The places in Hibbing proper are dreadful apparently. (One Trip Adviser reviewer recommended to travelers that they would do better to “stay in your cars.” It was tough to find a room even in the surrounding area, but we finally found some a room at a hotel 20 miles away.)
All this way and we almost couldn’t organize the logistics of a Hibbing visit. This certainly gave new meaning to the line “No Direction Home.”
No matter. Tomorrow…Hibbing, “where the winds hit heavy on the borderline.”