Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan, one of the best folk rock artists of all time – who just happens to be Jewish – showed up on the lawn of another famous folk rocker's childhood home in Winnipeg hoping for a tour.
Dylan, who was in Winnipeg to play a show earlier this month, decided to check out the home Neil Young grew up in.
John Kiernan, the man who now owns Young's former home, told CBC News that he was used to having his fans visit his home to get a sense of how Young grew up, but when he saw his wife talking to two men on their front lawn, he was shocked to find that one of the men was Dylan.
“And I'm looking around, and I realize, this guy having a tuque on has really great boots on, these sort of cowboy, motorcycle boots. And he was wearing really nice leather pants. And I realize I'm staring face-to-face with Bob Dylan,” Kiernan told CBC News.
Dylan, who grew up in Hibbing, Minn., about 500 km southeast of Winnipeg, and his manager were invited into the house for a tour, where he was taken into Neil Young's old bedroom, which Kiernan's 16-year-old daughter now occupied.
The Winnipeg Free Press spoke to Kiernan about his encounter with the rock star.
“So this is where Neil would have listened to his music,” Dylan mused. They took him into the old second-floor kitchen, now a laundry room. “I remember thinking I should have done the laundry before I went out,” Kiernan says.
Kiernan explained the whereabouts of the Earl Grey and Crescentwood community centres, where a teenaged Young and bandmates played their first concerts.
“He was introspective and thoughtful,” Kiernan said. “He had an interest in music beyond himself.”
The encounter lasted more than 20 minutes before they left. Kiernan believes the cab driver did not know who his passengers were.
While Kiernan called him “Bob,” Dylan did not formally acknowledge his identity. He didn’t have to. “This was a guy who doesn’t shake hands or introduce himself.”
As the cab drove off, Kiernan said to Regan [his wife]: “You were pretty cool talking to a huge celebrity.”
“What celebrity?” Regan asked.
“That’s why he looked so familiar!” she exclaimed.
She started screaming to neighbours who were raking their leaves: “Bob Dylan’s in the cab! Bob Dylan’s in the cab!”
Kiernan admits they have no documentary proof of Dylan’s visit, nor did they even get an autograph.
“It seemed cheesy to ask,” he said. “I was embarrassed that we hadn’t bought tickets to the concert.”