Friday, August 14, 2009

A complete unknown?

NEW UPDATE: Yep. See at end of this post.

Got to wondering if Mr. Dylan was out "visiting" again (see story below). He has been building a track record of late: see here and here. It's not the first time he's been seen leaving the company bus.

So, just who might have lived in Long Branch, New Jersey? A person did come to mind overnight and then checked it out this morning - yep, too good to be true - guess who was born in Long Branch, New Jersey?

Yes, the celebration is on over the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Ever wonder why the concert was at Woodstock and not, say, Milwaukee?

In 1966 there was a major motorcycle crash that shook the rock world. The injured musician ducked out the lime-light and went off into the shadows after five intense years of turning the world up-side-down.

In 1969 there was an attempt to coax him out and so the venue was picked to hold a major rock concert not far from the musician's home. Where did the musician live? Woodstock. And who was the musician? Bob Dylan.

But he didn't come out, he stayed home and the landmark concert simply called Woodstock went on without him.

Now it's forty years later and apparently someone missed the memo. From ABC News (with tip of the tinfoil to Doug):

Bob Dylan was detained by police in Long Branch, N.J. last month, when a young officer failed to recognize him, police said. The officer proceeded to go to earnest lengths to ensure the hooded, disheveled, rain-soaked music legend was, in fact, who he said he was.

Dylan, 68, one of the most celebrated, eccentric artists in American history, was in the area on July 23 as part of a national concert tour -- a fact lost on 24-year-old Long Branch police officer Kristie Buble.

To hear the young New Jersey police officer describe it, the scene was like something out of one of Dylan's epic song-poems: It was pouring rain, Dylan was soaked and wandering alone, far from the traveling home of his entourage of tour buses.

When Dylan wandered into the yard of a home that had a "For Sale" sign on it, the home's occupants became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an "eccentric-looking old man" in their yard, Long Branch Police said. One of the occupants even went so far as to follow Dylan as he continued on down the street.

And what does this event remind us of? Apparently it's not the first time he's been off wandering - as we see here and here. But this is the first one that comes to mind, off Modern Times:

LATER: Speaking of Woodstock, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week, it is interesting to reflect that why a generation was finding it's way to Woodstock, Bob Dylan was blocking the door. He actually got there first.

In fact, it was during this period forty years ago and following the Woodstock carnival that he finally gave up on living in Woodstock, packing up his family and heading out. He'd show up in the Isle of Wight Festival, where the Beatles showed up in the audience, and then did the landmark Bangladesh benefit concert for George Harrison. But it wasn't until the Rolling Thunder Tour that Dylan went back to the stage with gusto, reclaiming his legendary status and fame but loosing everything he had achieved in Woodstock.

Here's an article from today from Gannet that reflects on Dylan's late Woodstock years when the big happening at Yasgur's Farm (NOTE: The photo does not look like he's dressed to head over to Yasgur's Farm, having left his hipster-self out on :
He writes prose with a conversational tone suited for a bus driver talking with a lone passenger on an hours-long excursion.

Unknown by most beyond his music and lyrics, he reveals insecurities, peculiarities, irritations and longings. Bob Dylan, in his memoir, "Chronicles: Vol. 1," often comes across as one of the hundreds of lyrical characters he has sung about for decades.

"Chronicles," which was published in 2004, offers up dozens of tasty tidbits that will leave fans of his music watering at the mouth and students of 20th-century history turning pages.

When Dylan moved to Woodstock, he had achieved fame, shunned public adoration and was reveling in his role as a father.

Dylan and longtime Woodstock musician Happy Traum were close friends, played music together and socialized with their families.

"We became very friendly," says Traum, who played on Dylan's landmark, two-album set, "Greatest Hits Vol. 2." "He was staying at home a lot back then - he was just a parent. He had some kids the same age as my kids. They were friendly."

"Early on, Woodstock had been very hospitable to us," Dylan wrote.

But, "... intruders started to break in day and night. Tensions mounted almost immediately and peace was hard to come by."

The magic with which Dylan has written some of history's most memorable songs and colorful characters is reflected in his prose.

"Moochers showed up from as far away as California on pilgrimages. Goons were breaking into our place all hours of the night. At first, it was harmless enough, but then rogue radicals looking for the Prince of Protest began to arrive - unaccountable-looking characters, gargoyle-looking gals, scarecrows, stragglers looking to party, raid the pantry."

Dylan had two pistols and a Winchester rifle. "But," he wrote, "it was awful to think about what could be done with those things."

The Woodstock chief of police told the songwriter he would go to jail if anyone was shot accidentally. Also, "creeps thumping their boots across our roof could even take me to court if any of them fell off," he wrote.

Dylan added, "I wanted to set fire to these people."

Woodstock Police Chief Harry Baldwin said in 2004 the same laws still stood in Woodstock.

"Just because somebody is trespassing," Baldwin said, "if you shoot them for trespassing, you'd be in big trouble."

Recalling events that occurred when he and Dylan were close, Traum said, "There were definitely stalkers and people who would come from great distances to worship at his feet."

Regarding Dylan's book, Traum said, "In many ways, I think it was exaggerated. I can only say what I saw from the outside."

Traum recalled Woodstock residents, as opposed to out-of-towners, respecting Dylan's privacy and refusing requests for directions to his house.

"I think he might remember the negative parts more," Traum said.

Mary Lou Paturel in the 1960s ran the Espresso Cafe - now the Center for Photography at Woodstock - and rented an upstairs room to Dylan. Paturel said Dylan liked red wine, could be a private person, but was not completely averse to socializing.

"He had many, many moods," said Paturel, who is a Woodstock resident. "He was just a person who had different moods for different moments."

In his memoir, Dylan takes the reader on journeys to other regions of the country - St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn., where he explored folk music and devoured Woody Guthrie songs; to the folk scene of Greenwich Village, where he crashed on couches and braved the cold; and to New Orleans, where he recorded his album "Oh Mercy," the process of which is described in detail that is both tedious and fascinating.

But only Woodstock, the community nestled in the mountains, gets truly singed by Dylan's pen.

"Each day and night was fraught with difficulties," he writes about Woodstock. "Everything was wrong."
Read it all here.

Chronicles Vol. I is excellent and rumors abound he's working on Volume II. Even his autobiography carries biblical connotations.

His "second crash" was a humdinger. He responded by going back to the roots, just as he did in the infamous one. One actually could say that Dylan has had three major crashes as evidence in his music: the literal motorcycle crash of 1966, the crash on the domestic tracks in 1977, and the near death-bed crash in 1997 when he "thought he'd be seeing Elvis soon" and the radio stations were preparing for his passing. Each of these "crashes" has produced extraordinary periods of creative genius, in my opinion, and with each of these crashes he went back to the roots of music.

The first crash obviously is the mysterious motorcycle crash of 1966 that led to his withdrawl from public life for at least four years, but also produced the infamous Basement Tapes and a return to the roots of music.

His second crash in 1977 led to a personal spiritual revival that produced Slow Train Coming and an entire catalogue of gospel compositions that are not only standing the test of time, they are in revival themselves right now. However, it also produced more booing, booing he hadn't seen since he plugged in at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. His 60s-era fans still like to pretend it never happened. How could Bob Dylan find Jesus?

The third crash, on reflection, seems to be when he was hospitalized in 1997 for a life-theatening heart infection. He had just finished Time Out of Mind, one of his great albums, and he survived the illness. He has been on a roll ever since, like a man raised from the dead, blazing through a creative expeditition like a man who has the "blood of the land" (fun pun, Bob) "in his voice."

SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: RWB has his excellent commentary over at his place. He picks up more from the wires on the story, including:

The incident began at 5 p.m. when a resident said a man was wandering around a low-income, predominantly minority neighborhood several blocks from the oceanfront looking at houses.


Dylan was in Long Branch, about a two-hour drive south of New York City, on July 23 as part of a tour with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp that was to play at a baseball stadium in nearby Lakewood.

A 24-year-old police officer apparently was unaware of who Dylan is and asked him for identification, Long Branch business administrator Howard Woolley said Friday.

“I don’t think she was familiar with his entire body of work,” Woolley said.


The police officer drove up to Dylan, who was wearing a blue jacket, and asked him his name. According to Woolley, the following exchange ensued:

“What is your name, sir?” the officer asked.

“Bob Dylan,” Dylan said.

“OK, what are you doing here?” the officer asked.

“I’m on tour,” the singer replied.

A second officer, also in his 20s, responded to assist the first officer. He, too, apparently was unfamiliar with Dylan, Woolley said.

The officers asked Dylan for identification. The singer of such classics as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” said that he didn’t have any ID with him, that he was just walking around looking at houses to pass some time before that night’s show.

The officers asked Dylan, 68, to accompany them back to the Ocean Place Resort and Spa, where the performers were staying. Once there, tour staff vouched for Dylan.

The officers thanked him for his cooperation.

“He couldn’t have been any nicer to them,” Woolley added.

RWB contrasts Dylan's response with being confronted in a neighborhood by the police with a recent infamous incident that called in the President of the United States. Looks like Barry won't be getting a call on this one.

RWB picks up the story with this gem, writing "A lot more details on this in a story by Chris Francescani at ABC, in which the police officer concerned speaks for herself. She maintains she knew who Bob Dylan was, in general terms, but didn’t believe that this guy was Bob Dylan. It’s quite hilarious." Here's the story:

Following her police training, [Officer Kristie] Buble said she indulged him.

“OK Bob, why don’t you get in the car and we’ll drive to the hotel and go verify this?’ ” she said she told him. “I put him in the back of the car. To be honest with you, I didn’t really believe this was Bob Dylan. It never crossed my mind that this could really be him.”

Buble made small talk on the ride to the hotel, asking her detainee where he was playing, she said, but never really believing a word he said.

“He was really nice, though, and he said he understood why I had to verify his identity and why I couldn’t let him go,” Buble said. “He asked me if I could drive him back to the neighborhood when I verified who he was, which made me even more suspicious.

“I pulled into the parking lot,” she said, “and sure enough there were these enormous tour buses, and I thought, ‘Whoa.’”

Whoa, indeed. Great story, great ending. Question of the Day - was he indeed looking for Springsteen's birthplace? What do ya say, Boss?


Yep, turns out Mr. Dylan was in the neighborhood where Bruce Springsteen wrote Born to Run. Heh! ABC News is now speculating:

Was Bob Dylan looking for the home where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run" in 1974 when he was detained by police near the Jersey shore last month?

The 68-year-old music legend was picked up one Thursday last month by a 24-year-old cop who failed to recognize him as he walked the streets of Long Branch, N.J. in the pouring rain.

It may have been as simple as it appears: Dylan told police he was talking a walk and looking at a home for sale.

But the area where Dylan was picked up was just a couple blocks from the beachside bungalow where Bruce Springsteen wrote the material for his landmark 1975 album "Born to Run."

In the past nine months, Dylan has visited the childhood homes of Neil Young and John Lennon, in both cases appearing without fanfare and barely identifying himself after he was recognized.

What ABC News misses the rather significant detail that \that Bruce Springsteen was actually BORN in Long Branch, but grew up in Freehold, New Jersey. He may have written Born to Run there when he grew up, but the fact remain he was born to run there.

Here we go:


Anglican Beach Party said...

That is kind of crazy.

I guess nothing can be taken for granted these days.

If I was a Law Enforcement Officer, I'd probably make the news for arresting some incredibly famous rapper I'd never heard of ...

Unknown said...

See update - what do you think? Heh.


Robbie said...

Saw a bumper sticker today that BB would appreciate. It read:

Got Dylan?

Unknown said...

LOL! That's perfect!


Jill C. said...

Anglican Beach Party,
But deservedly so (I would guess)!

Anonymous said...

"Ever wonder why the concert was at Woodstock and not, say, Milwaukee?"

Nope. I went to a music fest in WI in 1970. The following year they tried to have another one and the police came in and broke it up.

The midwest and New Jersey have much in common. Besides swamps, I mean.

Anonymous said...

So I still don't know why it is apparently illegal to walk through a neighborhood - what crime was committed and when did the police start asking innocent pedestrians for identification? I know this is an amusing anecdote, but in all seriousness, this is not right.

redleg82 said...

Obvious vagrant, looking for an empty house to squat in. Lock him up :-)