German TV station explores Bob Dylan’s Hibbing roots

Host Wolfgang Niedecken and Aaron Brown talk about Iron Range history and Bob Dylan at the former Hull Rust Mine View in Hibbing, Minnesota. (ARTE-TV)

Last fall the German/French art network ARTE-TV visited Hibbing, Minnesota, as part of a “Bob Dylan’s America” series exploring the roots of the erstwhile Robert Zimmerman, Hibbing Class of 1959. Host Wolfgang Niedecken interviewed me for local color up at the former Hull Rust Mahoning Mine View in North Hibbing.

You can view the episode here, though I must disclaim that it helps a lot if you speak German.

Even if you don’t, the film crew did an amazing job producing colorful, vibrant images of Duluth and Hibbing, so there’s plenty to see. We were able to help the film crew get special permission from Hibbing Taconite to shoot at the old mine view after it had closed to the public. Shortly after this was filmed, the mine removed the entire viewing area to begin mining there.

And you can pick out a little English here and there.

Here’s a translated description of the episode, which is the first part of a series that explored parts of America touched by Bob Dylan’s life and music.

In the footsteps of Bob Dylan, Wolfgang Niedecken has arrived in the far north of the USA. In Minnesota, on the border with Canada, Bob Dylan was born and raised, and there he discovered his love and fascination with music. Minnesota has changed a lot since Bob Dylan’s childhood in the 1940s. In the past, iron mines, steel factories and ports provided a solid livelihood for people, but these times are long gone. But how does one deal with change there, and how has this region in the North of the USA shaped the young Bob Dylan?

In Bob Dylan’s birthplace Duluth Wolfgang Niedecken meets people who have not forgotten the past America and also Bob Dylan. Among them are the folk musician Sarah Krueger and the producer Tim Nelson. They belong to a circle of young musicians, re-record the Dylan songs from all creative phases and release them as “Duluth Does Dylan”.

Then it goes for Wolfgang Niedecken in the mining town Hibbing. Dylan moved there at the age of only six, after his father had polio and was unable to find work. In Hibbing, Wolfgang Niedecken gets one thing clear: Without growing up in Minnesota, Bob Dylan would probably never have become the musician and Nobel laureate he is today.


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