Since it was reported that Bob Dylan was stopped and questioned by the police last month, the blogosphere has been abuzz about why the music legend was wandering around a suburban New Jersey neighborhood in the pouring rain. One theory has it that he was looking for the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote the material for Born To Run, which would be consistent with other pilgrimages Dylan has made over the past few years. In fact, Dylan has also turned up at sites relating to pivotal moments in the lives of Neil Young, John Lennon, and Elvis Presley.
According to reports, Dylan recently visited Young’s childhood home in Winnipeg and Lennon’s home in Liverpool. In both instances, he turned up unannounced with no fanfare or entourage. That would jibe with a story Jim Dickinson told me some years ago about a conversation he had with Dylan at the Time Out of Mind sessions in Miami. During a break in the recording, Dylan mentioned that he’d “visited Humes,” which, to a Memphian such as Dickinson, meant one thing—an Elvis pilgrimage.
Dylan told Dickinson that, during a tour stop in Memphis, he visited Humes (above), the high school Elvis attended. Dickinson paused to note that the school’s demographics had changed a great deal since the early 1950s, and Dylan would have been very conspicuous walking the halls.
Dylan was searching for the auditorium where Elvis gave his first public performance during a school talent show in 1953. He found the auditorium empty and hushed, walked up on the stage, and looked out over the room, imagining it as Elvis had seen it. Then, according to Dickinson, Dylan said he looked down and “found a lucky penny.”
He may have been looking for similar signs in Winnipeg, Liverpool, and Long Branch.