Monthly Archives: November 2010

Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited”: Mike Bloomfield v. Johnny Winter

“Lord, that 61 Highway, it’s the longest road I know,” sang bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell. “She run on to New Orleans, and down to the Gulf of Mexico.”

The most famous road in blues lore, Highway 61 was built during the 1920s and 1930s. From New Orleans, it veers northwest into Mississippi, rolling through Natchez and Vicksburg. From there, it cuts through the Mississippi Delta, a ribbon of concrete and asphalt amid vast cotton fields sprinkled with silos, shacks, and small towns. It passes through Rolling Fork, where Muddy Waters was born, and near Tutwiler, where W.C. Handy first observed the blues in 1903. The road journeys on to Clarksdale, home base of John Lee Hooker, Bukka White, Muddy Waters, Ike Turner, and other legendary bluesmen. Before reaching Memphis, it passes through Tunica and Robinsonville, where Charley Patton, Son House, Willie Brown, and Robert Johnson resided and performed. From Memphis, Highway 61 cuts through northeastern Arkansas and on to St. Louis. Further north, it follows the Mississippi River valley to Davenport and Minneapolis. It passes through Duluth, Minnesota, where Bob Dylan was born, and ends at Lake Superior. Continue reading