MAKING THE TAPE
Thanks to Minneapolis resident Cleve Pettersen, the original recording of what fans and music buffs know as the “Minnesota Party Tape” was made available to the public at the library in the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul in 2004.
Petterson’s son Leif Petterson described in an article on Salon (May 8, 2019):
In the summer of 1960, my then fifteen-year-old father, Cleve Pettersen, went to Radio Shack and bought one of the first commercially available, portable reel-to-reel tape recorders. The thing was the size of a small ottoman and weighed about as much as a boulder of the same dimensions. It cost $50, which is over $400 in today’s economy, so not an insignificant purchase for a fifteen-year-old.
Pettersen wanted to get a local folk singer to sing songs into his new recorder and asked some local musicians who would be willing. He had no takers until a 19-year-old Bob Dylan agreed to be recorded in the fall of 1960. Pettersen and his friend Bil Golfus went to an apartment 711 on 15th Ave. S.E. in Minneapolis (alternately described as Dylan’s, his girlfriend Bonnie Beecher’s, or rented by Dylan’s roommate, Hugh Brown) and hung out with Dylan, Bonnie, and friend Cynthia Fischer. (Bonnie would one day marry Grateful Dead/Woodstock character Wavy Gravy.)
Pettersen set up the recorder and Dylan casually sang 12 folk songs into it. The songlist:
- Blues yodel No. 8
- Come see Jerusalem (sung with Cynthia Fincher/Fischer)
- San Francisco Bay Blues
- I’m a Gambler
- Talkin’ Merchant Marine
- Talkin’ Hugh Brown
- Talkin’ Inflation Blues (song by Tom Glazer is referred to as Talkin’ Lobbyist on the recording)
- Red Rosey Bush
- Johnny I hardly Knew You
- Jesus Christ
- Streets of Glory
- K.C. Moan
Other songs mentioned by Petterson’s son were:
- I Thought I Heard That Casey When She Blowed
- I’m Gonna Walk the Streets of Glory
Petterson never saw Dylan again, and by December 1960, Bob had left Minnesota for Greenwich Village. Petterson kept the tape for 44 years until he decided to donate it to the Minnesota History Center. It is available for listening at the library and cannot be duplicated.
Dylan lived in the ground floor middle unit of the building pictured above. It was demolished in 2014.
The writing on the box below is thought to belong to Dylan’s girlfriend Bonnie Beecher, who had borrowed the tape. One theory about Dylan’s name is that he originally took it – not from Dylan Thomas – but from Marshal Dillon.
Dylan lived in a couple of places at the U, including the Sigma Alpha Mu Jewish fraternity at 928 SE 5th Street.