Loader

Locations From SongsBob Dylan Fans: Did You Know You Can Actually Visit 'Highway 61'?

Overlay
WSM

In 1965, the album Highway 61 Revisited caused a revolution in music. Bob Dylan, who up till that moment had been a typical folksinger, shook the whole music world by surrounding himself by a rockband. What most people don’t know, is that Highway 61 is an actual American highway, connecting Minnesota and New Orleans. So get into your car, put on our Top 100 Ultimate Roadtripping Songs, and discover the road that inspired a Nobel prize winner.

It’s nearly impossible to imagine the way Bob Dylan became rejected by the folk community, which had been his biggest support up till that moment, when he released Highway 61 Revisited. The folk scene was all about the reproduction of American standards, played on an acoustic instrument, and keeping things calm and steady. Dylan had followed this tradition up till his 5th album, Bringing It All Back Home, which featured a completely electric side. But it was the song ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, featured on this record, his sixth, that really made him join the rock scene and lose touch with the folk scene. 

The album is in fact named after a song that features on it, so ‘Highway 61 Revisited’. In this song, Dylan brings on different characters, like God and Abraham, or Georgia Sam, referring to blues legend Blind Willie McTell. Dylan imagines some fantastical events featuring these characters, and during these events, they all have in common that they’re in trouble, and get presented Highway 61 as their way out

Well, Georgia Sam, he had a bloody nose 
Welfare department, they wouldn't give him no clothes 
He asked poor Howard, "Where can I go?" 
Howard said, "There's only one place I know" 
Sam said, "Tell me quick, man, I got to run" 
Oh, Howard just pointed with his gun 
And said, "That way, down Highway 61"

Dylan mentions the highway in his Chronicles: Volume One, saying "Highway 61, the main thoroughfare of the country blues, begins about where I began. I always felt like I'd started on it, always had been on it and could go anywhere, even down in to the deep Delta country. It was the same road, full of the same contradictions, the same one-horse towns, the same spiritual ancestors ... It was my place in the universe, always felt like it was in my blood." 



You can visit Highway 61 

U.S. Route 61 runs from Wyoming, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s 2300km long, and follows the Mississippi river during the most of this distance, reason why it’s also called The Great River Road. It is believed that blues legend Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil along this road, and the whole road covers the area where most of the Mississippiblues was created. Take a ride into history! And when you meet the devil, say hi, and thank him for the music he gave us. 

Locations From Songs

A lot of music was inspired by places. For example, there's 'Chelsea Hotel' or 'Under The Bridge'. In this format, we look them up and present them to you. In that way we create a great list of music inspired to do's around the world.