Who went to summer camp at Herzl Camp in the summer of 1957 and was discovered sitting on top of a cabin roof strumming his guitar? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, but you can also find it right here on today’s Everything Summer Camp Blog post. It was Bob Dylan who made his way up there nearly 60 years ago at Herzl Camp.
Herzl Camp welcomes their campers to 120 acres in Webster, Wisconsin on the shores of Devils Lake. Just two hours north of the Twin Cities, this beautiful land is where Bob Dylan took his first steps towards independence. But he wasn’t called Bob Dylan back then.
He was born Robert Allen Zimmerman, but just because he wasn’t always known as Bob Dylan doesn’t mean that he wasn’t interested in music from an early age (as the image of him playing guitar on a Herzl cabin rooftop). He listened to a lot of radio when he was little, gathering an eclectic taste for blues, country, and rock and roll.
He formed a few bands in high school and, during a talent show performance of Danny & the Junior’s ‘Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay’ at Hibbing High School, he and the band played so loud the principal cut the microphone in the middle of the song!
It must have been pretty loud!
He moved to Minneapolis after his high school graduation and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. Though he had been very drawn to rock and roll in his teen years, his college days introduced him to American folk and he began writing his own folk songs that offered more depth and dimension than most songs of the time were able to convey.
He started performing at a coffeehouse nearby campus called the Ten O’Clock Scholar. It was a popular place for college students to hang out and it quickly proved to be the perfect venue. His popularity expanded fast. Always wanting to travel, he went to New York City where his popularity grew even more as he appeared in clubs and discovered a network of other folk singers.
Not always appreciated for his voice which is commonly considered “scratchy” and “raw”—Bob Dylan himself would begin his shows by excusing himself for his voice. However, his highly influential, innovative songwriting brought fame and success to the young star and his music is still celebrated today. Unlike most of the pop music you’ll hear on the radio today, Bob Dylan wrote extremely honest music.
Bob Dylan explored and discovered the work he was capable of contributing to the world. With roots in summer camp, what will you be capable of? And, as always, thanks for reading!