30 March 2010


This is Echo Helstrom, Bob Dylan's high school sweetheart in Hibbing, Minnesota (copyright Toby Thompson) .It is a grim iron town that experiences harsh mid-west winters. For five decades, Dylan has endured as a truly gifted songsmith and yet references in his songs to his 1950's childhood, high school years and hometown are remarkable because of their absence. Finding out about Echo is very tricky - partly because there is an Oregon-based band who adopted her name. However, it is claimed that in Echo's home - in a gold-coloured picture frame - she placed the following song lyric which, more than any other, harks back to Dylan's early years and the life he left behind. Almost certainly and with some wonderment, she will have frequently considered the young man who slipped out of her life and out of her town in the summer of 1959. He will be sixty nine years old on May 24th - my late mother's birthday, the day Shirley's mother died and the day on which Hull City made it to the English Premiership. I've always loved this plaintive song....

Girl Of The North Country

If you're traveling in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine.

If you go when the snowflakes storm
When the rivers freeze and summer ends
Please see she has a coat so warm
To keep her from the howlin' winds.

Please see for me if her hair hangs long
It rolls and flows all down her breast
Please see for me that her hair's hanging long
For that's the way I remember her best.

I'm a-wonderin' if she remembers me at all
Many times I've often prayed
In the darkness of my night
In the brightness of my day.

So if you're travelin' in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to one who lives there
For she once was a true love of mine.


  1. Hi Yorkshire Pudding

    Just stumbled here via Expecting Rain who linked to your post about Echo.

    I didn't realise you had retired. Those days sharing an A level class eh?

    I'm nearly there.

    Nice work with the blog despite such erudite comments as that above/below!!


  2. Is this sung to the same music as "Scarborough Fair" the Simon and Garfunkel song? There are quite a few lyrics that are the same.

    There's another Simon and Garfunkel about an anonymous boor who gets his jollies writing nasty words in the subway with his color crayon. Can't remember the name of it. That might also be relevant here.

  3. SEALY I tracked back to your blog - only one post? Are you Sealy of Chaucer fame? If so - nice to hear from you.
    JAN The tune is not the same but the notion of the song is very similar... Dylan - "Remember me to one who lives there" - identical words are in the old English folk song revived and revised by Simon and Garfunkel. Perhaps the most famous version of "Girl of the North Country" was when Dylan recorded it with Johnny Cash.

  4. Toby Thompson11:03 pm

    The photo of Echo Helstrom is by me, and is copyrighted.

    Either add "copyright, Toby Thompson," or remove it from your site.

    Toby Thompson

  5. Dear Toby,
    - assuming you are the real Toby Thompson - I have complied with your request. As you can see, this is a non-profit making general blog and no offence was intended.
    Your humble servant,
    Y.Pudding Esq.

  6. Of Chaucer fame indeed. Not sure what you meant about my blog? That would be a retirement project. Keep up the good work.

  7. SEALY Ah..I see. It was just a blog you "follow" called NEWTS. I have an idea for the name of your retirement blog - "Seal of Approval" or perhaps "Seal Waxes Lyrical". Never realised you were a Dylan fan! We could have enlivened those last A level wallahs with studies of "Maggie's Farm" and "John Wesley Harding". Call by again some time. I would be honoured to have such an esteemed and erudite visitor though I admit my grammar would have to become more polished.

  8. Toby Thompson5:57 pm

    Thanks for the copyright notice. The photo is one I took in May of 1969, when Echo accompanied me from Minneapolis to Hibbing for a photo shoot--and to show me spots where she and Bob hung out. For details, see my book "Positively Main Street--Bob Dylan's Minnesota," available from the University of Minnesota Press. Again, thanks. I'm proud of that picture. Toby

  9. TOBY THOMPSON I am truly honoured that you have stopped by this blog. Do you know what happened to Echo and where she is now? I can thoroughly understand why you are proud of that photograph. When finally Bob Dylan dies, the world will realise just how great the man 1s/was and Echo was of course a significant jigsaw piece in his life story.


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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