Close Encounters of the Bob Dylan Kind
Way back when I was first going to art college … this would be the mid-60s in Toronto … I used to take the subway to get down to the school … one busy morning the Bloor station was crowded with humanity headed downwards when I spotted someone on the up escalator who looked very familiar. That pile of curly hair, those shades, the gaunt face … it HAD to be Bob Dylan. Unbeknownst to me Dylan was playing Massey Hall that night. There was a picture of him in the paper the next day … seemingly wearing the same large hound’s tooth jacket he’d been wearing in the subway. Keep in mind that in 1965 or 1966 there weren’t that many people who looked like Dylan … a couple of years later this could have been just another Bob wannabe. The concert was one of those where some of the audience booed when Dylan brought out his band (The Band? Damn … I wish I’d been there I wouldn’t have booed.)
I may be one of the earliest Dylan fans in Toronto … a couple of years before this sighting my father had called me down to see someone who he couldn’t believe was on national television. I had no idea who this was but later I realized the first song I heard was “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” … Dylan was playing in a log cabin full of lumberjacks who were ignoring him … Weird City. A year or so later I heard the same guy on the radio singing “The Chimes of Freedom” … the CBC show had given me a pretty good idea of what Dylan looked like.
The other two Toronto sightings aren’t mine … I just heard about them. Dylan arrived at Centre Island for a Mariposa Folk Festival (I don’t think that he ever actually appeared at one of these) and asked the first person he encountered. “Where is Leon Redbone?” Another time he was playing in town at the same time as Tanya Tucker was headlining at the Imperial Room (in the Royal York Hotel) … Dylan’s show ended and he went to catch Tanya … but he was wearing blue jeans and wasn’t allowed in … so he sat on the carpet against a wall and waited until the show was over so he could speak with Ms. Tucker … the guy at the door may not have recognized him but I’m sure some of the patrons did … otherwise how would the story have gotten out?
Saw Gordie Lightfoot at the airport once but he’s comparatively local.