It sounded like a major discovery for Dylanologists. A Bob Dylan website from the U.K. reported last weekend that a pastor at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Hibbing recently discovered a tape of Bobby Zimmerman rehearsing for his 1954 bar mitzvah.
Could this be the first known musical recording by the singer who would become Bob Dylan?
Quoting Pastor Wendell Helgason, a third generation Hibbing resident, the story on bob-dylan.org.uk said that the church had formerly been Agudath Achim Synagogue, where Dylan had his bar mitzvah at age 13.
The story, written by Gabriel Emanuel, said Helgason discovered a Sony reel-to-reel tape, dated May 22, 1954, in the basement featuring an unmistakably nasal voice.
Emanuel quoted Hibbing resident Isadore Goldfine, 77, who definitely identified the singer as the future Dylan.
“That’s him all right,” said the former proprietor of Goldfine & Sons Fine Furniture on Main Street. “I was at Bobby’s bar mitzvah and let me tell you he was no Pavarotti and no Sinatra either.”
Wow! Exciting! Historic!
And a complete hoax.
Sorry to get Dylan fans all tangled up in bar mitzvah, but none of this is true, other than Bob having a bar mitzvah.
“There’s never been any Pastor Wendell Helgason here. This building was never a synagogue in the past,” Wesley United Methodist Church Pastor Andy Petter said Wednesday. “I don’t know about the tape. But as far as us here, that’s a complete fabrication. I wish it was true; that would be nice.”
For the record, the Agudath Achim Synagogue was at 2320 W. Second St.; the Wesley United Methodist Church is at 303 E. 23rd St. And there is no Goldfine & Sons Fine Furniture in Hibbing.
Somewhere, though, there’s probably a Dylan bar mitzvah tape. Do you think it might ever surface on one of his official bootleg collections? Just asking for a friend.
Twitter: @JonBream • 612-673-1719