Music legend Bob Dylan was picked up for vagrancy by a policewoman in Long Branch, New Jersey, one recent rainy night, because she took the soaking-wet guy black sweatpants, rain boots, two raincoats, with a hood pulled over his head to be a crazy homeless man. He had no ID and was insisting he was in town to perform with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. Obviously delusional.
But Bob Dylan, it turns out, is a serious music historian who likes to prowl around incognito where rock musicians from the ’60s and ’70s grew up or wrote songs. Last November, a married couple in Winnipeg were surprised to find him waiting on their doorstep when they came home from shopping; Neil Young had grown up in their house. In May, Dylan paid $20 to join the tourists nosing around John Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool. And when Officer Kristie Buble picked him up that night in Long Branch, he’d simply been “on a walk” in search of the house where Bruce Springsteen had written “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road.”
Eventually, Dylan was driven to his hotel in a patrol car and his manager showed cops his passport. “I’ve seen pictures of Bob Dylan from a long time ago,” said Buble, “and he didn’t look like Bob Dylan to me at all.” Dylan historian Jonathan Cott explains that “Dylan is Dylan. He’s a very protean character. He shapes himself a lot, he’s like a shape-shifter. He goes from one identity to another. He’s consciously that way and he’s always been that way.”