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.



  1. Gerry Mantel says

    Too bad he didn’t interview me … I have a great story about drinking with Bob over at Moccasin Square Garden on the reservation in L’Anse Vegas, Michigan!

    And then there was the time we went looking for “Church Lady Pasties” all across northern Houghton County ….

    Oh, if you see Bob tell him that — yes — Draco the Dragon is still up there, somewhere ….

  2. Marco Demel says

    Dear Aaron Brown,
    (may you can tell your German contacts, if any, about/that would be nice)

    While hosting DylanHour on on every third Thursday from 9p.m to 11p.m and organizing the event „Darmstädter Dylan Tag 2020“, which was sadly beaten up by corona and the shut down and waiting now for a postpone in future I was stepping into writers corner and finally released my own „dylan-related“ book

    Tempest Under Control- Mit dem Mond in meinem Auge

    (with the moon in my eye).

    The book is listed on right under „Rough and Rowdy Ways“ and the Bootleg Series with the Nashville-Dylan-Cash-Sessions and available on Amazon.

    It´s the kick-off of a series of books of my agency „Dylan-Related-Books, which I just founded to bring Bob Dylan and his work closer to a German readership.

    The earnings of this book should push this start-up a little bit and back up some (hope to continue in October) a row of musical readings here in Darmstadt/Germany.

    Tempest is a synonym for an inner raging, the inner storms, so to keep them under control along your lifetime is an important ability to be more satisfied with yourself and the people around you, in particular in the „Autumn“ years. And to be ready for the wintertime and beyond.

    This theme became relevant for me, when I arranged an issue for my DylanHour short after the release of the Bootleg Series More Blood. I titled the show: More Blood. More Tracks. More Places to go back. So I revisited the places of Blood on the tracks and the places of „Tempest“ and some of „Shadows in the Night“.

    Dylan often return to this places, where he might have chosen another direction, but was forced again to stay with his muses and creativity than to save his love right here on Earth. So I put „Shelter from the Storm“ beside „Long and Wasted Years“or „Jack of the Hearts“ beside „Tin Angel“ or „Simple Twist of Fate“ beside „A Night we called it a Day“, going forth and back and forth again, like Dylan likes so much to do with us.

    In one of his songs, we hear that „we all wear the same thorny crown“ and about fourty years earlier that „she took away the crown of thorns“.

    In his songs as in the book „Tempest Under Control“ he is on a reach out for salvation spending many hours of contemplation.And Dylans latework is one whole transformation of world literature, any kind of songs and bible stuff from the Old as from the New Testament- and this has become his recipe for songwriting.

    There are many Dylan admirers, and there are six generations of Fans. Dylan has always have good experience with his audience in Germany, some say that one of his good friends is living here, thats why he shows up so frequently.

    And while the Dylan-Community is listening to the new songs, this book will be an ideal guide for the forthcoming album.

    To review the book you need a person, who is really deep in Dylan and who speaks and understand German.

    If one of your board members got this kind of access, please pass it over to them.

    I´m eager to see if its of interest.

    Nice greetings from Germany


    Stay healthy



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