Visions of Bob is a tribute song I wrote to Bob Dylan, inspired by dozens of songs from the man born here in Duluth, Minnesota on May 24, 1941.
Stream if here for free this month while you read about it below:
As you may know by now, I’m releasing a new song every month for Campfire Americana: Volume 1. The singles will be available as they are released each month and the entire album will be released in December 2016. Most of the work for each song is done during the given month, in concert with the times and the seasons, and it seemed fitting to get this tune out before Dylan’s 75th birthday. I wrote it after asking myself “what I would say if I had 5 minutes with Bob.”
But something profound happened during the making…
With all the banked memories of life, its amazing how you can remember exactly where you were, and what you were doing, when you heard the news of something very, very major. Goosebump-level news, you know the kind. What were yours?
Aside from personal, family news, here are a few memorable events and settings of mine:
- The Twins winning the 1991 World Series – Just left of the soundboard at a Dead show at the Oakland Coliseum. My buddy Brad, as excited as humanly possible, spreading the news he just heard from the soundguy who was listening to the game with an earpiece while recording the show.
- Jerry Garcia’s death – Driving all alone to St. Cloud, first song the radio played was He’s Gone and I had to pull over.
- The 911 attacks – In my office in Duluth with co-workers watching it happen on a snowy TV screen. FDNY was piloting our EMS software at the time and our company had a connection which made the sting hurt even more.
So what does this have to do with this Visions of Bob song? Enter another one of Minnesota’s spawn, Prince.
On April 21, 2016, I was sitting in a parking garage downtown Duluth, on Lake and Superior. In my portable recording studio (which is essentially a truck with recording gear in it) I was capturing the harmonica track and background vocals for this song with my friend Brian James over lunch. Midway through the recording, my phone buzzed – a single, 4 letter word message from my friend Paul …F#@&… I let it fester for a little while so I could focus on recording, but social media caught us. In a short while, my friend Brian let me know that Prince had died.
So here I was, recording a tribute song for a man that Minnesota, especially Hibbing and Duluth, embraced as their own (Dylan), while another Minnesota musical icon goes to the afterworld (Prince).
In stark contrast, Prince actually embraced Minnesota back, while Dylan pretty much left and never looked back. However, both of them share common Minnesotan traits of being private, even in the midst of their incredible popularity, and I guess their music was bigger than where they ended up living. They left behind truckloads of songs that will never go away. Between the two of them, they probably wrote enough tunes for the entire world to survive on. That thought is captured in the last words of the song: “You wrote everything we need, you’re an artist, you don’t look back.” A parody line from She Belongs to Me.
I wrote this tribute song to Dylan with the hopes that he would hear it someday, and he would bring it all back home…like many of us have done who were born in Minnesota, left to explore, and returned back to the nest.
If you study the works of Bob Dylan, you will enjoy the challenge of trying to identify which Dylan songs are referenced in this tribute song. Some are obvious and some pretty obscure, for the deep divers. I’ve listed the song inspirations after the lyrics which are posted HERE.
Or you can click below to buy the song 🙂