Bob Dylan Brings It All Back Home, To Lowell

By Dave Burrows

‘Dylan has invented himself. He’s made himself up from scratch.That is, from the things he had around him and inside him. Dylan is an invention of his own mind. The point isn’t to figure him out but to take him in. He gets into you anyway, so why not just take him in?’

The above observations were noted by Sam Shepard in his logbook, as Dylan and his accompanying minstrels meandered across the US in the now legendary Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975.

The fourth concert of the tour saw the bandwagon roll into Lowell, Massachusetts, a city already significant to Dylan and poet /fellow traveler, Allen Ginsberg,as being the home and final resting place of the celebrated novelist and poet, Jack Kerouac. During their brief visit for the concert, Dylan and Ginsberg would also take time to visit Kerouac’s grave to pay a poetic tribute to the maestro who had so powerfully influenced their generation of writers and musicians.

Dylan would return to Lowell in 2000 and 2010, to perform at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass). However, it is his most recent concert in April 2013 at the Tsongas Center that has been marked in a novel and informative manner by his hosts .

In many ways, it is no surprise that a city boasting Jack Kerouac as a celebrated son (and naming a University Center for Public Humanities in his honour), should be exceptionally pleased to host a further concert by an artist such as Dylan and his current band. What is a delight, is to read the pamphlet, ‘Bob Dylan brings it all back home, to Lowell’  that was produced and distributed free of charge to fans attending the show.

The publication celebrates Dylan’s long connection with the Lowell campus, often using recollections of University staff and family members amongst photographs and sketches..The pamphlet was coordinated by senior academics/veteran Dylan fans including Paul Marion, who as well as being an Executive Director at UMass, is also a Co-Director of the aptly named Center for Arts and Ideas. Also mentioned in dispatches is Prof.Dave Lewis, an international management expert, aid worker and owner of a 1960sVW bus that was the distribution point for the pamphlets.

In the 21st century, where Dylan now thrives as a creative, multi talented artist, there is often a cynical, corporate exploitation of ‘the arts’. How refreshing, therefore, to read a quality publication, that states many interesting facts as it  links UMass, Kerouac and Dylan via peoples’ experiences and emotions. UMass Lowell has been described as a ‘honeycomb of challenge and innovation’. Plenty of evidence to support that assertion in the souvenir pamphlet.

As a  footnote, it is appropriate to acknowledge the UMass mission statement, proudly stated on the official stationary. For once such an item doesn’t sound cheesy, as is often the case with many corporate bodies. It is honest and direct………

‘Learning with Purpose’

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2 comments

  1. Liamy Mac Nally

    It is a wonderful publication that has winged it’s way to the west coast of Ireland. Well done and thanks to all concerned. “You know who you are.”

  2. UMass Lowell are very generous people to send the pamphlets across the pond, like they did. It is indeed a wonderful publication!

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