Friday, May 02, 2008

Positively Main Street – a welcome new edition

I stumbled across Positively Main Street: Bob Dylan’s Minnesota in bizarre circumstances. One cold February evening in a North London post office in the mid-‘70s, I chanced upon it in one of those revolving wire racks which used to display pulp literature – trashy cowboy thrillers and sanitized romances.

I hadn’t heard of Positively Main Street before, but, intrigued, I read the thin little curio in a single sitting, before bedtime, savouring every nuance of its enthralling search for the essence of Dylan.

Toby Thompson, its youthful author, had travelled Minnesota in search of Dylan and managed to interview some mighty important witnesses – Echo Helstrom, the Girl Of The North Country, as well as most of Bob’s family.

The book shed new light on Dylan. And its affecting gonzo style – “Wow! Here’s me, in Hibbing - Dylan would have walked down this very sidewalk…“ - captured the breathless excitement that any fan would have felt so close to the hero.

So, I’ll be buying the new edition, just published by Univ of Minnesota Press, especially as it contains an interview with Thompson, previously unpublished photographs and a new preface.

Gerry Smith