MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota's own Bob Dylan got deep and personal about life up north in a rare, lengthy interview ahead of his upcoming album.
Dylan's 38th studio album Triplicate is a 30-song triple LP due March 31. The album is his first after receiving the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature and will be made up of 30 new recordings of classic songs.
The album will feature covers of American songwriters including Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (Once Upon A Time), Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler (Stormy Weather), Harold Hupfield (As Time Goes By) and Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh (The Best Is Yet To Come).
In an interview with Bill Flanagan, posted to Dylan's official website, the Minnesota music icon talked about his early days in Duluth.
"Up north the weather is more extreme – frostbite in the winter, mosquito-ridden in the summer, no air conditioning when I grew up, steam heat in the winter and you had to wear a lot of clothes when you went outdoors. Your blood gets thick," Dylan said when asked about what makes Minnesota different from other places.
"It’s the land of 10,000 lakes – lot of hunting and fishing. Indian country, Ojibwe, Chippewa, Lakota, birch trees, open pit mines, bears and wolves – the air is raw."
Dylan and his family moved from Duluth when he was five, after World War II.
"It’s on the banks of Lake Superior, built on granite rock. Lot of fog horns, sailors, loggers, storms, blizzards. My mom says there were food shortages, food rationing, hardly any gas, electricity cutting off – everything metal in your house you gave to the war effort. It was a dark place, even in the light of day – curfews, gloomy, lonely, all that sort of stuff," he said.
Dylan said he hated hunting as a child but did enjoy shooting pellet guns through 2x4s. And fishing?
"Oh sure, everybody did that, bass, sturgeon, flatheads, lake trout, we caught and cleaned them too."
Dylan recalled the first time he visited the Twin Cities.
"They were rock and roll towns. I didn’t know that. I thought the only rock and roll towns were Memphis and Shreveport. In Minneapolis they played northwest rock and roll, Dick Dale and the Ventures, The Kingsmen played there a lot, The Easy Beats, The Castaways, all surf bands, high voltage groups. A lot of Link Wray stuff like 'Black Widow' and 'Jack the Ripper,' all those northwest instrumentals like 'Tall Cool One.' 'Flyin’ High' by the Shadows was a big hit," Dylan said.
"The Twin Cities was surfing rockabilly – all of it cranked up to 10 with a lot of reverb; tremolo switches, everything Fender – Esquires, Broadcasters, Jaguars, amps on folding chairs – the chairs even looked Fender. Sandy Nelson drumming. 'Surfing Bird' came out of there a little while later, it didn’t surprise me," he continued.
Dylan shared other stories too. Like that time Elvis was a no-show for a recording session with Dylan and George Harrison.
"He did show up, it was us that didn’t," he recalled.
So what's Dylan listening to today?
"I listen on CDs mostly. Iggy Pop’s Après, that’s a good record. Imelda May, I like her. Valerie June, The Stereophonics. I like Willie Nelson and Norah Jones’ album with Wynton Marsalis, the Ray Charles tribute record. I liked Amy Winehouse’s last record."