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Credit: Bent Rej

Music

20 years on from Bob Dylan being refused entry to his own concert

@TomTaylorFO

2001 was a year when security was on high alert all around the world. Thus, when a shifty little miscreant was floating around outside of a Bob Dylan concert he was promptly turned away, only for it to later emerge that the suspicious vagabond up to no good was due to grace the stage that very evening. Dylan had requested stricter security but being turned away from his own concert is not what he had in mind. 

Dylan was touring in the States following the release of the album Love and Theft, part masterful return to form, part dubious plagiarism oddity. He was due to end the tour at Oregon’s Jackson County Exposition Center, when he approached security without his backstage pass and three security guards in their 30s turned away the fabled voice of a generation. 

Naturally, Dylan was somewhat miffed by the incident and claimed that the performer doesn’t tend to put themselves on the guestlist, especially when said performer is one of the most renowned and revered artists ever to grace the Earth. When Dylan’s security director clocked the incident a few choice words were exchanged, and an ‘incident’ ensued. 

Later when reflecting on the bizarre situation, venue manager Chris Borovansky stuck to his guns and boldly declared: “He said no exceptions. Absolutely none.” While the whole bit seems like a skit from a Coen brothers movie, Dylan and his security team apparently credited them for their due diligence after apparently initially demanded that the arduous security guard was thrown off-site. 

Staying true to character, Borovansky later added: “We prefer the term ‘relocated’. But in the end, he later said that the guards did a great job.” After a minor, comedic delay, it was agreed that the wild-haired old man was, in fact, the same wild-haired old troubadour set to perform that evening.

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Oddly, however, this is not the only run-in with authorities that Dylan had around this period. The incident that takes the biscuit when it comes to his ragged vagabond ways occurred in Long Beach, New Jersey, in 2009. The police were on the prowl for a “scruffy old man acting suspiciously.”

Dylan was simply out taking a stroll around town, no doubt regaling himself with impressive thoughts about how “the flowers of the city though breath-like, get deathlike sometimes.” However, a patrol car then successfully identified the wayfaring troubadour as fitting the description of their suspect. Therefore, they pulled over and apprehended a flummoxed leading figure of cultural history.

What’s more, he even apparently used to pick up hitchhikers during his late 1970s early 80s born-again Christian phase. In the Biography No Compromise: The Life of Keith Green, there is a section when Green’s wife Melody recalls 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 recognised him because they drove a beat-up old car and he wore a knit ski hat over his famous curls,” she writes. I guess, in the words of one of Dylan’s favourite songwriters Randy Newman, it’s lonely at the top!