Bob Dylan – “My Life in a Stolen Moment” (1962)

March 5, 2010 at 5:01 am (Bob Dylan, Poetry & Literature)

Duluth’s an iron ore shipping town in Minnesota
It’s built up on a rocky cliff that runs into Lake Superior
I was born there — my father was born there –
My mother’s from the Iron Range Country up north
The Iron Range is a long line a mining towns
that begin at Grand Rapids and end at Eveleth
We moved up there to live with my mother’s folks
in Hibbing when I was young –
Hibbing’s got the biggest open pit ore mine in the world
Hibbing’s got schools, churches, grocery stores an’ a jail
It’s got high school football games an’ a movie house
Hibbing’s got souped-up cars runnin’ full blast
     on a Friday night
Hibbing’s got corner bars with polka bands
You can stand at one end of Hibbing’s main drag
     an’ see clear past the city limits on the other end
Hibbing’s a good ol’ town
I ran away from it when I was 10, 12, 13, 15, 151/2, 17 an’ 18
I been caught an’ brought back all but once
I wrote my first song to my mother an’ titled it “To Mother”
I wrote that in 5th grade an’ the teacher gave me a B+
I started smoking at 11 years old an’ only stopped once
     to catch my breath
I don’t remember my parents singing too much
At least I don’t remember swapping any songs with them
Later I sat in college at the University of Minnesota
     on a phony scholarship that I never had
I sat in science class an’ flunked out for refusin’ to watch
     a rabbit die
I got expelled from English class for using four-letter words
     in a paper describing the English teacher
I also failed out of communication class for callin’ up
     every day and sayin’ I couldn’t come
I did OK in Spanish though but I knew it beforehand
I’s kept around for kicks at a fraternity house
They let me live there an’ I did until they wanted me to join
I moved in with two girls from South Dakota
in a two-room apartment for two nights
I crossed the bridge to 14th Street an’ moved in above
     a bookstore that also sold bad hamburgers
     basketball sweatshirts an’ bulldog statues
I fell hard for an actress girl who kneed me in the guts
     an’ I ended up on the East Side a the Mississippi River
     with about ten friends in a condemned house underneath
     the Washington Avenue Bridge just south a Seven Corners
That’s pretty well my college life
After that I thumbed my way to Galveston, Texas in four days
tryin’ to find an ol’ friend whose ma met me
at the screen door and said he’s in the Army –
By the time the kitchen door closed
I was passin’ California — almost to Oregon –
I met a waitress in the woods who picked me up
an’ dropped me off in Washington someplace
I danced my way from the Indian festivals in Gallup, New Mexico
To the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana
With my thumb out, my eyes asleep, my hat turned up
     an’ my head turned on
I’s driftin’ an’ learnin’ new lessons
I was making my own depression
I rode freight trains for kicks
An’ got beat up for laughs
Cut grass for quarters
An’ sang for dimes
Hitchhiked on 61 — 51 — 75 — 169 — 37 — 66 — 22
Gopher Road — Route 40 an’ Howard Johnson Turnpike
Got jailed for suspicion of armed robbery
Got held for four hours on a murder rap
Got busted for looking like I do
An’ I never done none a them things
Somewheres back I took time to start plain’ the guitar
Somewheres back I took the time to start singin’
Somewheres back I took the time to start writin’
But I never did take the time to find out why
I took the time to do those things — when they ask
Me why an’ where I got started, I gotta shake my head
     an’ weave my eyes an’ walk away dumfounded
From Shreveport I landed in Madison, Wisconsin
From Madison we filled up a four-door Pontiac with five people
An’ shot straight south an’ sharp to the East an’
     in 24 hours was still hanging on through the Hudson Tunnel –
Gettin’ out in a snowstorm an’ wavin’ goodbye
     to the three others, we swept on to MacDougal Street
with five dollars between us — but we weren’t poor
I had my guitar an’ harmonica to play
An’ he had his brother’s clothes to pawn
In a week, he went back to Madison while I stayed behind an’
Walked a winter’s line from the Lower East Side
    to Gerde’s Folk City
In May, I thumbed west an’ took the wrong highway to Florida
Mad as hell an’ tired as well, I scrambled my way back to
South Dakota by keepin’ a truck driver up all day an’ singin’
One night in Cincinnati
I looked up a long time friend in Sioux Falls an’ was let down,
     worried blind, and hit hard by seein’ how little we had to say
I rolled back to Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, lookin’ up
     ol’ time pals an’ first-run gals an’ I was beginnin’
     to find out that my road an’ their road
     is two different kinds a roads
I found myself back in New York City in the middle part
     a summer staying on 28th Street with kind, honest
     hard-working people who were good to me
I got wrote up in the Times after playin’ in the fall
     at Gerde’s Folk City
I got recorded at Columbia after being wrote up in the Times
An’ I still can’t find the time to go back an’ see why an’ where
I started doing what I’m doing
I can’t tell you the influences ’cause there’s too many
     to mention an’ I might leave one out
An’ that wouldn’t be fair
Woody Guthrie, sure
Big Joe Williams, yeah
It’s easy to remember those names
But what about the faces you can’t find again
What about the curbs an’ corners an’ cut-offs
     that drop out a sight an’ fall behind
What about the records you hear but one time
What about the coyote’s call an’ the bulldog’s bark
What about the tomcat’s meow an’ milk cow’s moo
An’ the train whistle’s moan
Open up yer eyes an’ ears an’ yer influenced
     an’ there’s nothing you can do about it
Hibbing’s a good ol’ town
I ran away from it when I was 10, 12, 13, 15, 151/2, 17 an’ 18
I been caught an’ brought back all but once.

Bob Dylan

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1 Comment

  1. Bob Dylan Described Growing Up In Northern MN in 1962 Short Poem said,

    […] Here’s a few excerpts from the poem: […]

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