By the early 1980s, Bob Dylan was just a legend. And it would remain so for many years. But just that. A dinosaur. A musician with a glorious past, a non-existent present and a nebulous future. Just five years ago, he was a pace-setting artist who was even able to seduce charts around the world with his epic “Hurricane.”
A short time later, only ashes remained from the fire. His embrace of the Christian faith had provoked a massive rejection to the point of installing him in artistic irrelevance, even though his compositions and performances continued to be extraordinary in perspective. He had paid a price and he only had to survive. So much contempt and also a good deal of self-sabotage managed to hide a finally revealed reality: it was an enormously prolific time and full of songs at the height of his genius. This is what many will now discover in “Springtime in New York”, a new installment of his Bootleg Series, focused on the dark period 1980-85. Dylan has just announced touring again, at 80 years old, until 2024.
Below are the 5 Funniest Stories From Bob Dylan’s Career:
Bob Dylan’s creepy encounter with a ghost dog
Dylan met brothers Steve and Muff Winwood of the Spencer Davis Group after a concert in Birmingham on May 12, 1966. The next night they went to visit an old burnt-down house in Worcestershire because the Winwoods told him that the owner he had died together with his dog and that both appeared in the form of ghosts.
Winwood writes in Wanted Man: In Search of Bob Dylan, at one point during this rosy evening, they hear a dog bark. “Now this is likely to happen in the countryside in Worcestershire,” he humorously remarks. “But Dylan is convinced he’s heard the ghost of a dog! He was like a little kid running up to you, grabbing you by the arm, going, ‘This is unbelievable!’”
As Bob Dylan later recalled: “Stevie Winwood, he came to see us in Manchester. Last time we were in Manchester… That was 1966. Or was it Birmingham? His brother – he’s got a brother named Muff – Muff took us all out to see a haunted house, outside of Manchester, or Birmingham, one of those two. Or was it Newcastle? Something like that. We went out to see a haunted house, where a man and his dog was to have burned up in the thirteenth century. Boy, that place was spooky. That’s the last time I saw Stevie Winwood.” The encounter proves to be a memorable experience for Bob Dylan.
Mistakenly Thought As A Homeless Man
Officer Kirstie Buble was on a rainy night patrol in Long Beach, New Jersey in 2009 when she received a tip from a neighbor about “an eccentric-looking older man” hanging around the neighborhood lawn. Buble approached the area and there he found a man dressed in black, with sweatpants, rain boots, and two raincoats with the hood covering his head. The police, thinking he was dealing with a homeless man, arrested him. The ‘tramp’ was Bob Dylan himself, but Agent Buble didn’t believe it and arrested him last July.
The first thing Buble did when he found Dylan was “ask him what he was doing in the neighborhood, and he said he was looking for a house that was for sale.” “I asked him for his name and he said, Bob Dylan,” Buble later explained to ABC News.“I’ve seen pictures of Bob Dylan from a long time ago and he didn’t look like Bob Dylan to me at all. He was wearing black sweatpants, tucked into black rain boots and two raincoats with the hood pulled over his head.”
Sleeping in Neil Young’s Coffin
It’s still a mystery why Neil Young drove a 1948 Buick Roadmaster hearse called Mortimer Hearseburg but the funny thing about it, was Bob Dylan almost died in the back while sleeping in the coffin that the truck hearse was carrying.
Sandy Mazzeo explains in the Neil Young biography, Shakey: “I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s a ghost’. I look in the rearview mirror, and it’s Bob Dylan.” The twist, however, was that this was during Dylan’s rather outlandish turban phase – an interesting phase for anyone other than a religious convert to go through – and this only furthered the ghostly illusion. “He’d slept in his turban and it had come all undone – he looked like a mummy!”
He Was Denied Entry To His Own Concert
Dylan, who is touring the US in support of his new album Love and Theft in 2001, was set to perform the last Oregon stop on his tour when he had problems getting through a checkpoint at the Jackson County Exposition Center. It was unsure if the three security guards, who were in their 30s, knew if it was Bob Dylan – they were strictly ordering Dylan’s security director that no one – no one – was to get entry backstage without an official pass.”He said no exceptions,” venue manager Chris Borovansky said. “Absolutely none.”
Loves to Pick Hitchhikers
In the late 1970s, he became a born-again Christian and released a series of albums of contemporary gospel music before returning to his more familiar rock-based idiom in the early 1980s.
In the Biography No Compromise: The Life of Keith Green, there is a part when Green’s wife, Melody, told the story that Dylan would drive around with her late husband. “He told us that he loved to pick up hitchhikers and tell them about Jesus. They never recognized him because they drove a beat-up old car and he wore a knit ski hat over his famous curls,” she writes.
Dylan’s 1997 album, Time Out of Mind marked the beginning of a renaissance for his career. And his music had returned to secularism. Without a doubt, he returned to better albums and concerts. Of course, he wasn’t the only one mixing rock music, rebellion, and Christianity. … But Bob Dylan remains the most surprising convert to evangelical Christianity, due to his personality as a countercultural icon.