I've been travelling around the mid-West, from St. Louis to Dallas and now Minnesota...just northeast of St. Paul. I have a gig here today but when I drove here from the airport, I crossed Highway 61. Its significance wasn't lost on me. "Route 22" was my song and I had forgotten about Dylan's. Until now.
US Highway 61 runs along the Mississippi River from Tulane Street in New Orleans, through Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and ends near the Canadian border in Wyoming, Minnesota. It was a major route for poor southerners to take north to find work in the early to mid 20th century. The "Blues Highway" went through Memphis and St. Louis. In Clarksdale, MS, it crosses US 49...the famed mythological "Crossroads" where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil to become such a good guitar player.
But Dylan's song resonates today. Rocking, crazy (with the siren and Mike Bloomfield's manic slide) and biblical (Dylan's father and grandfathers' names were Abraham) its lyrics sing so well, so perfectly that hip hoppers should go to school on it.
I'm just a sucker for nostalgic places and US 61 even in suburban St Paul makes a connection with me.
Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
God says, “Out on Highway 61”