What I’m Listening To Today:
Django Reinhardt: Swing De Paris.
In 1970, Bob Dylan sang that he “went to see the gypsy”. It’s been proposed that Dylan was referring to “The King” when he said “he did it in Las Vegas and he can do it here”. Elvis Presley had recently staged a comeback, resurrecting his career from a self inflicted TV-screen death, by staging a marathon of concerts at Las Vegas’ International Hotel (July-August of 1969).
Or perhaps, having some mystical premonition, when Dylan wrote “the gypsy’s door was open but the gypsy was gone”, he somehow knew that fellow rocker Jimi Hendrix would overdose within months and die at the young age of 27, effectively ending the run for Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies.
Yet I think, most likely, he was singing about Django, an unbelievably talented, self-taught gypsy musician, who died in 1953, the same year that a twelve year old Robert Allen Zimmerman was teaching himself acoustic guitar in his “little Minnesota town”.
Reinhardt’s only visit to the United States came in 1946 (Dylan was 6 years old) when he was invited to tour with Duke Ellington. They even played two shows in Minnesota, on November 12th & 13th, in Rochester & Minneapolis respectively (though neither city is particularly close to Duluth/Hibbing).
Perhaps Dylan was once again creating a lyrical fantasy of what could have been, the parallel lives of groundbreaking musicians, in a similar fashion to the way he sought out and found Woody Guthrie in New York in the 1950’s.
At least it’s not an entirely flawed theory. Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments.