Was Dylan Searching for the Home Where Springsteen Penned 'Born to Run'?

Was Bob Dylan looking for the home where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run" in 1974 when he was detained by police near the Jersey shore last month?

The 68-year-old music legend was picked up one Thursday last month by a 24-year-old cop who failed to recognize him as he walked the streets of Long Branch, N.J. in the pouring rain.

It may have been as simple as it appears: Dylan told police he was talking a walk and looking at a home for sale.

But the area where Dylan was picked up was just a couple blocks from the beachside bungalow where Bruce Springsteen wrote the material for his landmark 1975 album "Born to Run."

In the past nine months, Dylan has visited the childhood homes of Neil Young and John Lennon, in both cases appearing without fanfare and barely identifying himself after he was recognized.

Last November, Winnipeg homeowner John Kiernan told Sun Media's Simon Fuller that Dylan and a friend arrived unannounced in a taxi to his Grosvenor Ave. home, where songwriter Neil Young grew up.

Dylan, Kiernan said, was unshaved and had the brim of his hat pulled down over his head. He asked for a look inside and inquired about Young's bedroom and where he would have played his guitar.

Dylan has shown a deep affinity for the Canadian rocker over the years, most recently in his 2001 song "Highlands." And Young said at a Nashville concert in 2005 that he once lent Dylan one of his most precious musical treasures -- Hank Williams' guitar, for which Young wrote the ballad "This Old Guitar." Both men revere Williams, a country music legend.

In May, Dylan joined a public tour of John Lennon's childhood home, according to the BBC. A spokeswoman for the National Trust, which runs the home as London landmark, said Dylan "took one of our general minibus tours.

"People on the minibus did not recognize him apparently," the spokeswoman told the British news agency. "He could have booked a private tour, but he was happy to go on the bus with everyone else."

Springsteen spent two of the most creative years of his young career in the house on West Court in Long Branch in 1974 and 1975, penning "Born to Run," "Thunder Road" and "Backstreets" while living there.

Dylan's spokesman did not immediately return a call or e-mail for comment.

'Eccentric-Looking Old Man' in Yard

On July 23, Dylan, one of the most celebrated, eccentric artists in American history, was in the Long Branch, N.J., area as part of a national concert tour -- a fact lost on Long Branch police officer Kristie Buble.

To hear her describe it, the scene was like something out of one of Dylan's epic songs: It was pouring rain, Dylan was all alone, far from the traveling home of his entourage of tour buses.

When Dylan wandered into the yard of a home that had a "For Sale" sign on it, the home's occupants became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an "eccentric-looking old man" in their yard, Long Branch Police said. One of the occupants even went so far as to follow Dylan as he continued on down the street.

A publicist for Dylan who was on his way to a Dylan concert in Fresno, Calif., Friday evening, told ABCNews.com he had not heard the story, but would look into the incident.

But Buble said the man told her he was Bob Dylan.

"We got a call for a suspicious person,'' Buble said. "It was pouring rain outside, and I was right around the corner so I responded. By that time he was walking down the street. I asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood and he said he was looking at a house for sale."

"I asked him what his name was and he said, 'Bob Dylan,' Buble said. "Now, I've seen pictures of Bob Dylan from a long time ago and he didn't look like Bob Dylan to me at all. He was wearing black sweatpants tucked into black rain boots, and two raincoats with the hood pulled down over his head.

"So I said, 'OK Bob, what are you doing in Long Branch?' He said he was touring the country with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. So now I'm really a little fishy about his story. I did not know what to believe or where he was coming from, or even who he was.

"We see a lot of people on our beat, and I wasn't sure if he came from one of our hospitals or something," Buble said.

She asked for identification, but Dylan said he had none. She asked where he was staying and he said his tour buses were parked at some big hotel on the ocean. Buble said she assumed that to be the nearby Ocean Place Conference Resort.

"He was acting very suspicious,'' Buble said. "Not delusional, just suspicious. You know, it was pouring rain and everything."

Sergeant: 'That's Not Bob Dylan'

Following her police training, Buble said she indulged him.

"OK Bob, why don't you get in the car and we'll drive to the hotel and go verify this?' " she said she told him. "I put him in the back of the car. To be honest with you, I didn't really believe this was Bob Dylan. It never crossed my mind that this could really be him."

Buble made small talk on the ride to the hotel, asking her detainee where he was playing, she said, but never really believing a word he said.

"He was really nice, though, and he said he understood why I had to verify his identity and why I couldn't let him go," Buble said. "He asked me if I could drive him back to the neighborhood when I verified who he was, which made me even more suspicious.

"I pulled into the parking lot," she said, "and sure enough there were these enormous tour buses, and I thought, 'Whoa.'"

Her sergeant met her at the hotel parking lot.

"I got out of my car and said, "Sarg, this guy says he's Bob Dylan,'" Buble said. "He opened the car door, looked in, and said, 'That's not Bob Dylan.'"

"So we go over to the tour bus and knock on the door and some guy answers and I say, 'Are you missing someone?'"

"Who's asking?'' came the reply, according to Buble.

"I was in full uniform, so I say, 'I'm asking! I'm the police.'"

Eventually, the police were shown Dylan's passport, which Buble said she looked at, saw the legend's name, and rather sheepishly handed it back to Dylan's manager.

"OK,'' she recalled saying as she smiled. "Um, have a nice day."

A police department source said Buble had taken her share of good-natured ribbing from some of the older officers.

"To really appreciate the story from our end, you have to see Kristie," one cop said. "She looks like a 16-year-old kid, next to this living legend. It was unbelievable."

Dylan Has Gone Incognito Before

In fairness to Buble, Dylan has a long history of intentionally seeking anonymity, often with hooded sweatshirts and other limited disguises.

In October, 2001, he was held up at a checkpoint at Jackson County Exposition Center in Oregon as he attempted to get into the backstage area of his own concert, according to the Associated Press.

While it remains unclear whether Dylan was looking for Springsteen's old home in this case, and he never mentioned that he was to Buble, the description that the Winnipeg homeowner gave of Dylan when the singer visited Neil Young's home last year was similar Buble's story.

"So these guys were standing at the front of the house about to get back into their taxi,'' Kiernan, the homeowner, said of Dylan and his friend in Canada. "I noticed he was wearing these expensive-looking leather pants tucked inside these world-class boots. Then I studied his face and tried to keep cool."

It was Bob Dylan, who'd grown up just over the U.S./Canadian border, in Hibbing, Minn., Kiernan said.

"When he said, 'Would Neil have looked out this window when he played his guitar?'," said Kiernan, "I realized what a spiritual experience he was having at that moment, knowing that he would have been doing the same thing at the same time in Minnesota.

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