Dylan rocks crowd with tight rick-and-roll

By Sean Leary

Bob Dylan rocked a crowd of 2,500 in NIU’s Chick Evans Field House Tuesday night. Despite the low attendance, the show was a success musically, with Dylan delivering a 75-minute set of tight rock-and-roll.

Dylan was backed by an impressive band which tore through Dylan’s recent material, and kicked a new, harder-edged life into his familiar hits. For the most part, Dylan eschewed his older material, choosing instead to concentrate on songs from his latest album, “Under The Red Sky.”

Dylan ended his show with a bang, closing with a revamped “Like A Rolling Stone,” which was re-cadenced and fitted with a stronger rock background. For his only encore, Dylan blasted into versions of “The Times They Are A Changin‘” and “All Along The Watchtower.”

One member of the audience watched Dylan with special interest. NIU professor Rod Borstad had been a close friend of Dylan’s family in the 1950s and taught Dylan in elementary school in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Back then “Bob Dylan” was only a rebellious boy named Robert Zimmerman, but even then he had been a rebel. “Bob was an extremely bright, creative boy, who was always asking questions,” said Borstad. This usually posed a challenge to his teachers, Borstad said.

Dylan used to wear a black leather jacket to school and wear his hair in a “duck-tail” Borstad said. He kept to himself for the most part, and had very few close friends, which parallels his image today as an elusive figure. “Bob wasn’t concerned much with being popular,” Borstad said. “He definitely marched to a different drummer.”

Borstad remembers one recurring incident in particular. He was working at a youth center in Hibbing which closed at 10:30 p.m. each night. Dylan would regularly enter the center minutes before closing time and check out equipment which he would then use until well after 10:30, delaying the departure of the workers. “Bob always seemed to push authority, to try to see how far he could go,” Borstad said.

Dylan’s family situation was a stable one. His parents were very involved in the Hibbing educational system and many other community activities, Borstad said. “The Zimmermans were very comfortable people to be around, who were very jovial and valued intellect,” Borstad said.

Dylan’s brother David, was just the opposite of Bob, Borstad said. “David was a very teachable boy, unlike Bob,” Borstad said. “Both of the boys were very bright, but David seemed to be able to adjust to the system of things much more, whereas Bob was always questioning how things were,” Borstad added.

Borstad admits that although Dylan stood out in his mind, he never imagined he would become the superstar he is today. “I guess you can never tell,” Borstad said.