By Larry Fyffe
(Interview conducted by Larry Fyffe)
Untold: So, Bob, tell our readers about your visit to Canada in the winter of ’64.
Bob: Well, I was visitin’ my home town in Minnesota when I get this call from the CBC invitin’ me up to record some of my songs for them … so I hitchhike over to Kittson County, on the border – to Hallock, a small town on Two Rivers. … to join up with a Canadian friend of mine.
Untold: What’s his name?
Bob: Joe … Joe Two Rivers … an Ojibway-French guy …Metis, they call them; he’s from the Red River Valley, just across the border in Manitoba … works for the Canadian Forest Service with a bunch of forest rangers.
Untold: You ever mention Joe in any of your songs?
Bob: Kinda …made a joke about Joe in “Bob Dylan’s Blues”:
Well, the Lone Ranger and Tonto
They were walkin’ down the line
Fixin’ everybody’s troubles except mine
Untold: How about in any other songs?
Bob: “Red River Shore” tells the whole tale …. Two Rivers was with me up in
Red River Valley country in a log cabin where the songs were recorded for CBC-TV:
Pretty maids all in a row lined up
Outside my cabin door
I’ve never wanted any of them wantin’ me
‘Cept the girl from the Red River Shore
Untold: The gal from the Red River shore?
Bob: It’s a long story … Joe, he puts on this jacket given him by Chief Floating Cloud … mixes up some Indian herbs in a pipe, and we smoke it … the next thing I know I’m in some strange land.
Untold: Strange land?
Bob: Strange time, too … Joe later informs me that we travelled back to the old Red River Colony in Manitoba, and it’s 1869 all over again – I write about all about that long strange trip in the song:
Well, I sat down by her side
And for a while I tried
To make that girl my wife
She gave me her best advice
She said, ‘Go home, and lead a quiet life’
Unold: You’re kiddin’ … You meet some gal from the North Country … back a century and a half ago?!
Bob: Yeah, I tried mixin’ up some herbs myself after I returned to the present so that I could go back to her, but it didn’t work out:
Well, I went back to see about her once
Went back to straighten it out
Everybody that I talked to had seen us there
Said they didn’t know who I was talkin’ about
Untold: What was her name?
Bob: ‘Rose Marie’ …Metis she was …so Joe tells me … she said ‘adieu’ all the time:
Well, the dream dried up a long time ago
Don’t know where it is anymore
True to life, true to me
Was the girl from the Red River Shore
Untold: So you still miss her?
Bob: You might say that … Even more than Edgar Poe misses his lost Lenore:
Well, I can’t escape from these memories
Of the one that I’ll always adore
All those nights, when I lay in the arms
Of the girl from the Red River Shore
Untold: Did you meet anyone else … back then?
Bob: No, but I was kinda hopin’ Jesus comes along, and brings Rose back to life for me:
Well, I don’t know what kind of language that He used
Or if they do that kind of thing anymore
Sometimes I think nobody ever saw me here at all
‘Cept the girl from the Red River Shore
Untold: What about Joe Two Rivers?
Bob: That’s the funny part ….Turns out his name’s ‘Mike’ …. from the Ukraine.
Untold: Oh …. Anyway, it’s a very beautiful song.
Bob: Yeah, the hills have a way of doin’ that to ya.
(End Of Interview)
You might also enjoy Untold’s earlier exclusive interview with Bob on the roof of the St James Hotel.
And our enquiry: “What did Bob Dylan die of?”
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