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Bob Dylan and Brooklyn Heights — Brooklynian

Bob Dylan and Brooklyn Heights


From a CUNY student project page on Brooklyn Heights: "Montague Street was also a place for musicians where live music made Brooklyn Heights a destination for those seeking lively nightlife. Bob Dylan in his song “Tangled up in Blue” sings of the street’s lively cafes and air of revolution:"

"I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air"

- "Tangled Up In Blue" - Blood On The Tracks (1975)

Check out the interesting discussion on Brownstoner...

LINK: Did Bob Dylan Really Live in Brooklyn Heights? [Brownstoner]


  • There's a Montague Street in London as well.
  • I've read a few Dylan biographies, as well as his recent autobiography (Chronicles, Vol. 1) - none mentioned him living in Brooklyn. The only mention of Brooklyn & Dylan comes from Chronicles, Vol. 1, where he writes about when he first came to New York, and spent time visiting Woodie Guthrie in "Brooklyn State Hospital" (Dylan's words from 'Last Thoughts on Woodie Guthrie'). Dylan was a very frequent visitor to Woody's hospital room, and spent many hours talking with and playing songs for him. At one point, Woody told Bob about a trove of song lyrics that he had back at his house in Brooklyn on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island, and that if Bob wanted them, they were in the basement of his house and he could go get them.
    In the next day or so, I took the subway from West 4th Street station all the way to the last stop, like he said, in Brooklyn, stepped out on the platform and went hunting for the house. Woody had said it was easy to find. I saw what looked like a row of houses across a field, the kind that he described, and I walked towards it only to discover I was walking out across a swamp. I sunk in the water, knee level, but kept going anyway - I could see the lights as I moved forward, didn't really see any other way to go.
    He goes on to describe how he arrived at the house, knocked on the door, and was answered by a baby sitter, who was caring for a young Arlo. She didn't know anything about any manuscripts, and wasn't about to let him in. He left, half soaked, and trudged back to the subway, never to come back.

    30 years later, these same papers were given to Wilco and Billy Bragg to record Mermaid Avenue Vols 1 and 2.
    You can either go to the church of your choice
    Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
    You'll find God in the church of your choice
    You'll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

    And though it's only my opinion
    I may be right or wrong
    You'll find them both
    In the Grand Canyon
    At sundown

    He also mentions Brooklyn in the song "Joey" from Desire:
    Born in Red Hook Brooklyn in the year of who knows when
    Opened up his eyes to the tune of an accordion
    Always on the outside whatever side there was
    When they asked him why it had to be that way "Well" he answered
    "just because".
    Anyway, most of Bob's songs are not directly autobiographical, including "Tangled Up In Blue".
  • Research! Damn. Informed.
  • I've been wondering about that "Montague Street" reference for, oh, FOREVER ... Although, I've successfully convinced myself (without any empirical evidence of course) that it IS Brooklyn's Montague Street. Why shouldn't it be? Brooklyn Heights was NOT the Brooklyn Heights it is now back when the folkies were wandering the streets. From what I gather, it was (gasp!) more like what Prospect Heights was five or 10 years ago ... before the "Hipsters" moved in with their i-Pods. So, it kind of makes sense, no?

    So ... please don't burst my bubble ... :cry: