Clinton Heylin:"Bob Dylan: Behind The Shades, a Biography"
email@example.com (David Todd) - from The Telegraph:
Hibbing girlfriend: subject of "Girl From the North Country" and maybe of "Hazel."
One vote for Suze here, one vote for Echo. It should be mentioned that the Telegraph article reprinted in the book Wanted Man opines (or refers to Robert Shelton's opinion) that Jaharana Romney, formerly Bonnie Beecher, wife of Hugh Romney, a.k.a. Wavy Gravy, was really the North Country Girl. And Suze is doubtful because it is so obviously a nostalgic, lost-love song...and Bob wasn't writing those for her for another year or so!! ;) ....or maybe :(
I vote for Echo because of Toby Thompson's gee-whizness when he met her in the book "Positively Main Street" completely convinced that it was she.
Let's ask Bob. Yeah right. The withering look such a query would elicit...freezes my soul to even imagine.
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 1995 16:22:54 -0400 From: U0A75@WVNVM.WVNET.EDU Subject: Echo, Ellen & Mom 6161616161616161616161616161616161616161616161616161 Here's an article I found while cleaning out my closet! Enjoy!!!! --------------------begin article----------------- HEY HEY WOODY GUTHRIE, AH WROTE YOU A SONG by Toby Thompson (from _US_, a Bantam Book published October 1969) Frogs are singing this evening in the marsh outside my window at Michael's Motel, a mile south of Hibbing on Highway 169. The Coleman gas furnace kicks on and off, a north country spring gale rattles the storm door to my room, and I can see dirt swirling around the top of a 250-foot-high iron ore dump only a short field away. Cars go by every five minutes or so. Very fast, and with loud, unmuffled whooshes. I have neither radio nor T.V. to break the pleasant monotony of frogs and cars. Only complementary copies of *Argosy* and *True* magazines. "Finally the Full Story: How the U.S. got Che Guevera." For today's man, field-equipped with busty broad, big car, bronze muscles, and everywhere-hair. But as for yesterday's...memories of something different. A strange collage: of marsh voices, howling wind, highway sounds...and distant conversation. *** (in bold letters)...So Narcissus went on his cruel way, a scorner of love. But at last one of those he wounded prayed a prayer and it was answered by the gods: "May he who loves not others love himself." The great goddess Nemesis, which means righteous anger, undertook to bring this about. As Narcissus bent over a clear pool for a drink and saw there his own reflection, on the moment he fell in love with it. "Now I know," he cried, "what others have suffered from me, for I burn with love of my own self--and yet how can I reach that loveliness I see mirrored in the water? But I cannot leave it. Only death can set me free." And so it happened. He pined away, leaning perpetually over the pool, fixed in a long gaze. Echo was near him, but she could do nothing; only when, dying, he called to his image, "Farewell-- farewell," she could repeat the words as a last goodbye to him. They say that when his spirit crossed the river that encircles the world of the dead, it leaned over the boat to catch a final glimpse of itself in the water. The nymphs he had scorned were kind to him in death and sought his body to give it burial, but they could not find it. Where it had lain there was blossoming a new and lovely flower, and they called it by his name, Narcissus. -- Edith Hamilton, *Mythology* *** _Get Back, Lo-retta! -- The Beatles_ "Turn that part up!" Echo squeals, as I ease onto Howard Street, Hibbing's main drag. "I love it when they break into that heavy rhythm. I once wrote a junior high school term paper on music like that. Colored jazz, with a big beat. They wouldn't let me write on rock and roll. That wasn't a fit subject, my music teacher said. Oh, Hibbing is SO hokey." Echo Star Helstrom, ash blonde, blue-eyed, and strikingly decked out in knee-high white boots, black mini-dress and Austrian cape, is back in Hibbing for the first time in many months. Echo is a booker for National General Pictures in Minneapolis now, but Hibbing is her hometown. Hibbing is where she was born, where she was graduated from high school...and where she fell in love with Robert Zimmerman. "Bob was a lot luckier with his teachers. He had that nice Mrs. Peterson in music, for one thing, and that made all the difference in the world. The woman I had practically ruined my life. That whole eleventh grade when Bob and I went steady, he had the music teachers snowed. Nobody else could stand how he sung or what he played especially the electric stuff, but people like Mrs. Peterson and Bob's English teacher, Mr. Rolfzen, they had a feeling. Bob would play for anybody, anytime, and I guess that enthusiasm made a difference, too. He was such a sweet convincer." We find a place to park my car on Howard Street, and shiver on across to the Garden Lounge. When I visited Hibbing last fall, the Garden Lounge was one of two places in town featuring live rock. If "live" is the word: Blue Velvet, Ventures, late-fifties triple-twang. Syrup rock. By a red-blazered, tab-collared, go- get-'em quartet that still broke sets with Bill Doggett's "Hold it." But tonight...what's this? Sounds of hard rock drifting through the smoke of old miners' cigars. "Sunshine of Your Love" blasting loose cobwebs of red iron ore and saloon perfume. kids with long hair, bellbottoms and ankle high boots on the bandstand...and people tolerating it! Dancing to it! "I haven't heard anything like this in Hibbing since Bob and I used to stay up late for Gatemouth Page's radio show from Little Rock," Echo shouts in my ear. "They never had groups like this before." We find a table, order, and sit back in awe of an Iron Butterfly tune the band's just started. "They couldn't be from HIBBING," I stammer. "What do you mean, 'couldn't be from Hibbing?'" Echo laughs. "BOB DYLAN's from Hibbing!" *** (in bold letters) "'Robert, you have green teeth,' my mother used to say, and she would tell him either to go brush his teeth and take a shower, or not come to the dinner table. My mother was the only person I ever knew who could make Bob mind. And the only one who could talk to him like that, and not make him mad. Bob was an extremely headstrong young man...Would you like something to drink, coffee, a beer?" Ellen Baker disappears for a moment into a postered, pin-up decorated kitchen at one end of the apartment she shares with her husband in Minneapolis. Here in the living room, book shelves line the walls, supporting expressionistic knic-knacks, ash trays of noble design, a poster-papered basket with real dollar bills stuck in. "I met Bob the first part of our freshman year together, here at the University of Minnesota--at a friend's house, a fellow named David Whittaker. Bob was sitting over in the corner, with his guitar I think, looking so cute and helpless. David introduced him to me as 'Bob Dylan,' too. He was used to using that name exclusively by then. He didn't tell me his real name until much later, when we'd become very good friends. Bob didn't like that 'Zimmerman' at all. Used to tell us 'Dylan' was his mother's maiden name and that he preferred it to his father's. Of course, that wasn't true either, but we didn't care. Bob had such an imagination." "Bob used to introduce himself to people by all sorts of different names. He was such a role-player. I even heard him say at a strange party once that he was Bobby Vee, you know, that old rock and roll crooner. People were saying, "Hey, that's Bobby Vee!" and pointing and whispering all evening. We laughed about it later, but Bob was spooky about those things. I think he actually believed himself sometimes. "My mother became very fond of him too, after she saw that his interest in me was above board, and that his grooming and dress didn't reflect some subterranean sloppiness. And she was always a sucker for strays. I suppose Bob dined and slept at our house on a fairly regular basis for over four months. He hardly ever seemed to have a place to live. But he liked our house just fine. Besides having both my mother and me to charm, he had my father's huge collection of bound folk music to peruse. He'd sit for hours leafing through old manuscripts, sheet music and folk magazines. Father had some old records, too. Old 78's. Not the bluesy stuff Bob picked up later, but traditional things, sort of A-minorish folky. We'd listen to those all the time--songs like 'Those Brown Eyes' by Cisco Houston and Woody Guthrie, and 'Go Down You Murders.' Bob would sing that one every time he'd have too much to drink, over and over." Ellen pauses, staring off into a cluttered, bookshelved corner. I follow her eyes, and the space on the floor there looks very empty indeed. "I don't suppose he was doing any rock and roll at that point?" "No, that was terribly out of fashion. NOBODY in the folk set did rock and roll. They all did the same sort of stuff as Bob, traditional ballads. Nobody seemed to be writing any songs, either. Bob was fairly competent on the guitar, and would do his own arrangements, but I don't think he was composing. He was too unsure of himself then. Bob was extremely inarticulate unless he had a guitar in his hands and was making love to you by singing, or had some sort of hat on his head, any kind, or was drunk. Then he'd sit there on the floor with his feet curled up underneath him and be absolutely magnificent. Strangers at parties would ask, 'Who's that?' and people wouldn't let him stop. He'd just sit there playing and grinning...with those Hush Puppies on." "He wore HUSH PUPPIES?" "Sure. He pledged a fraternity too, did you know that? Sigma Alpha Mu, the Jewish house. But he left fairly early in the year. THAT really wasn't his scene, even then. Bob was serious about his school work for a while, too. At the very start. He tried hard, but...he finally decided he just wanted to play the guitar and party. I don't think Bob looked at a book after the first month he was at the University. College wasn't the reason he hung around. Minneapolis was the first big town Bob ever lived in. He'd NEVER admit to a stranger that he came from Hibbing." *** "I was onstage for just a few minutes with my folkysongs. Then the strippers would come on. The crowd would yell for more stripping, but they went off and I'd come bouncing back with my folkysongs. As the night got longer, the air got heavier, the audience got drunker and nastier, and I got sicker and finally I got fired." -- liner notes to Bob Dylan's first album Saturday afternoon, strolling up Howard Street with Echo. Past the old L&B, which is not a flower shop, Crippa's where Bob used to buy records and guitar strings, and Collier's Barbecue, off on a side street, now the R&S Cafe--closed, for rent. "Right there, in that corner, is where Bob and his band used to play. Collier would let them come in on weekends, most anytime they wanted to, and they'd move those booths away from the window here, and face the back of the room. They were so loud you could hear them all the way up the block! Bob always had his amplifiers up too high. "See that lampost? Right in front of the Moose Lodge? That's where I first met Bob. Well, it was in the L& B afterwards really, but there on that corner was where I first noticed him. How could I help it! He was standing in the middle of the sidewalk, playing the guitar and singing, and it must have been ten o'clock at night. He and the band had been rehearsing upstairs in the Moose Lodge, and they were all going into the L&B. Oh, but look at it now...it's gone. Why did they do THAT!" Echo presses her nose against the window of the flower shop, and points with a chubby finger, "That's where Bob came over to talk with me, he and a friend. My girlfriend and I were sitting there all alone, and they just came over and sat down. I suppose you could say they were trying to pick us up, but I don't know. Bob looked so innocent and well-scrubbed I never even thought about that. "But he was SO cocky. After we started going together, we'd walk up Howard Street, just like you and I are doing now. Bob in those tight jeans he wore, with his hands squeezed into the pockets as far as he could get them, and he'd drag me into Crippa's or one of the other stores that sold records. He'd walk up to the clerk like that in those jeans and with that kooky little grin, and ask for some records he KNEW they wouldn't have. The clerk would say, 'Little Who?' or 'Fats What?' and Bob would say, 'Well, how about such and such; or so and so's new one?' He'd keep that up until the clerk was just about furious, and then he'd put on his hurt look and we'd leave, ready to burst from not laughing." Echo giggles to herself at this, and we continue up Howard Street, past Saturday afternoon crowds of shoppers, kids gunning motors and screaming at each other from slick hot rods--and Kitchen's Kitchenette, an archaic red calliope where she, Bob, and everyone who grows up in Hibbing has, at one time or another, bought candy bars, cotton candy, or ten-cent bags of popcorn. "Down that street, Fifth Avenue, is where Bob's uncle's shop is. Zimmerman's Furniture and Electric. They're finally going out of business, after almost twenty-five years. Bob's father used to make him do odd jobs around the shop. He and this other fellow sometimes would have to go out on a truck and repossess stuff. I think that's where Bob first started feeling sorry for poor people. These miners would come to town, find a house, buy furniture on the credit their job promised them, and then got laid off when a mind shut down. Then Bob and his friend would have to go over and take away all the stuff bought from Zimmerman's. Load it onto the truck and just leave. Bob hated that; used to dread it worse than anything." *** (in bold letters) "'That itinerant Jewish folksinger' is what a number of my friends used to call Bob," Ellen Baker is saying. 'Not everyone was as taken with his charm as my family and I were. Bob had quite a few friends, don't get me wrong, but he was extremely hard to get to know well. Part of it was just being inarticulate, but there was also a very definite streak of cynicism in Bob. He could be warm on the surface, but that tough attitude a little way down always seemed to show through. The Jewish business was a good bit of it. Bob wanted so much to be one of the people he sang about. I used to kid him by saying, 'How's the man of the soil today?' He wanted to be that more than anything else. But how could he be a man of the soil with a name like 'Zimmerman?' "Those stories about Bob idolizing Woody Guthrie are true, too. Bob talked about going East to meet Woody all the time. He'd say, 'we're gonna go see him, Ellen, pretty soon!' I think it was just about that time that Bob got a harmonica. We'd be at a party or someplace, and Bob would have been drinking to just past that point, and somebody would say, 'Woody's outside, Bob. Woody wants to meet you.' Bob's head would jerk up, and sometimes he'd stumble outside screaming, 'I'm coming, Woody, I'm coming!' I never thought that was a very nice trick to play, but some of our friends wouldn't have missed it for the world." continued in PART TWO ***