Hibbing High School, in Minnesota, has an auditorium unlike any high school anywhere, especially for a place in the middle of nowhere. It has several elaborate crystal chandeliers, velvet seats, a full stage, and, at one time, a Steinway grand. It’s ornate, gilded, and huge. Bob Dylan played there in a talent show, when he was a student. He was singing something by Little Richard. He kicked the piano bench behind him and banged on the keys. Feet started tapping, heads began swaying, cells in the bodies of many of the students mutated right then and there. The principal, once he recovered from the shock, pulled the plug, doused the lights, and gave him the hook. They didn’t like it, but rock and roll was here to stay.
At heart, he’s a rocker and always has been. Going electric with Butterfield? The Band as backup? The Never Ending Tour? He’s not fooling around. For each New Morning there’s a Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat. For every Don’t think Twice there’s Like a Rolling Stone and a lot of others.
There’s so much melody, so much magic, that it’s easy to forget just how hard Dylan can rock. He’s got it all and always has. It’s in the soles of his boots and the way he walks. You can see it in his eyes. Heck, for a long time, it was in his hair. When he was growing up, it kept him and a lot of others warm at night and pointed the way down the road to the cities. It was in the air, on the box, and had a killer backbeat. Nothing could have stopped him. No principal, no assumptions, no authority, but his own. It’s a shared heritage and he’s been sharing it for a long time. We keep listening. He keeps playing. What a great thing.