Bob Dylan’s Hibbing from Edlis Cafe: book review

By Tony Attwood

I’ll come straight out and say I love this book. But you need to be aware…  Books from Edlis Cafe are different – for they are taken from the Edlis projects on the internet.

So if you want to get a flavour of what this is all about go and visit their Facebook group – it is one of the very few Bob Dylan Facebook pages I would ever recommend other than our own.

And the point here is there is such a rich variety of information and material collected on their Facebook pages that having all that information it in book form is essential, allowing easier reading of the article and much better surveillance of the pictures than you can get on the internet.  In fact the book is worth its cost just for the Robert Shelton interview with Dylan’s “mom and dad”.

Since my copy arrived each time I have been working I have had the book open on my desk, just below the computer screen, turning the picture pages over and over to get what I hope is an ever deeper awareness of the town in which Bob grew up.   Of course I know about it from other volumes – but here I feel I am brought much closer to the world Bob knew as a kid.

Maybe it is because I am English and thus have no background in the American traditions and histories that are included in these pictures and stories that the impact on me is so great, but I am looking at a world that is quite alien to me, and yet it is one which I have glimpsed through occasional lines in Bob’s songs.

But there is also the fact that with this volume I can look at the store that Bob worked in as a youngster, and my mind drifts into thinking about whether other young lads of his sort of age meandered into the shop and bought stuff and were served by Bob, and now looking back think, “yes I did go in there, and there was that guy about my age, and oh my that must have been Bob Dylan.  I wonder if he remembers me…”

OK, its a nerdy thought, but for some of us such memories are powerful and important.  For this is a story of a world coming and going.  A story of youngsters travelling 15 miles to another town to meet up with the DJ who played the music they liked.  Of a time when and a town where racism was overt and legal.  There are contradictions between the memories of his family members and others who knew him and there are pictures, pictures, pictures.

Yes at times it feels muddled, but that is right, because in the real world that is exactly how our memories become.   The photographs tell only part of the reality.

It is over 280 pages of A4 size packed with pictures and text and it is wonderful.  Maybe one day it will come off my desk and go onto the bookshelves with all the other Dylan books, but that will a sad day, because it will mean I have not only studied the book to death but also because by then I will know it off by heart, and have no more to learn and re-learn.  I will no longer be enjoying the true reflection of looking back all these years to one’s childhood.

The book is available on Amazon.  In the UK that means you can get it here, but in the rest of the world just go onto your local Amazon and type in Edlis Cafe Bob Dylan’s Hibbing.

And if you don’t want it, buy it for a Dylan fan who is interested in where he came from.  They will love you even more than they do already.

What else is on the site

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all the 590 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 2000 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, please do drop me a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article.  Email

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, links back to our reviews


  1. Put together a public domain historical folk song in 2016 about Hibbing and Minneapolis’s pre-1961 hidden history, that contained the following lyrics (which might tie-in, somewhat, to topic of the book you reviewed):
    (verses 1 and 2)
    In Hibbing, Minnesota
    Guess who owned a furniture store?
    And guess whose grandfather
    Owned the town theaters?
    Rich whites owned its iron mine
    And Greyhound’s Jim Crow bus lines
    In Hibbing and Minneapolis
    The racist bells did chime.
    In Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Pillsbury owned the City
    And owned with Lumber and Milling Trusts
    The University.
    Rich whites controlled its politics
    Its banks, mills and factories
    In Hibbing and Minneapolis
    Guess who lived in poverty?
    Some people create myths
    Or sell us fantasies
    Others still fight for Freedom
    And protest against Society.
    (verses 3 and 4)
    In Minneapolis, Minnesota
    A Citizens Alliance tried
    To bust the Teamsters Union
    And break the drivers’ strike.
    To keep an “open shop”
    While keeping closed social clubs
    In Hibbing and Minneapolis
    That’s how things were done.
    In Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Some could not rent or own
    A home in any neighborhood
    Except in its Northern zone.
    And the jobless in Gateway District
    Were bulldozed from Downtown
    In Hibbing and Minneapolis
    They didn’t want the poor around.
    Some people create myths
    Or sell us fantasies
    Others still fight for Freedom
    And protest against Society.
    (verses 5 and 6)
    In Minneapolis, Minnesota
    No firm did hire you
    If you grew up on the North Side
    Or lived on Snelling Avenue.
    And professors Weinberg and Wiggins
    Got fired for their politics
    In Hibbing and Minneapolis
    You couldn’t be too leftist.
    In Hibbing and Minneapolis
    Most whites just sang of love
    And musicians showed off their skills
    And competed for jobs in clubs.
    And those who were ambitious
    Got big wealth in New York
    Yet in Hibbing and Minneapolis
    People still are out of work.
    Some people create myths
    Or sell us fantasies
    Others still fight for Freedom
    And protest against Society.

  2. Ls.,
    Does this book have photos?
    Like youth photo’s of Dylan at a Xmas tree with a ventricolist’ doll?
    Thank you!

  3. >Does this book have photos?
    >Like youth photo’s of Dylan at a Xmas tree with a ventricolist’ doll?

    The book is lavishly illustrated, but it does not include the fake photographs like the doll. They are well discussed in the EDLIS Café itself.

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