On Wednesday, St. Paul City Council members unanimously approved a resolution to rename E. 4th Street near CHS Field as “Positively 4th Street," a tip o' the cap to famous Minnesotan Bob Dylan's famously pissy rant named after a different street. Here's why its backers should be voted out of office ... or at least be more thoughtful when they pave the streets with pop music references.
It's the wrong street
It's unclear to which street Dylan was referring, but two sensible candidates have emerged among Dylan scholars: SE. 4th Street in Minneapolis and 4th Street in New York City. The former cuts through Dinkytown, where Dylan lived and gigged while attending the University of Minnesota, while the latter housed influential Greenwich Village venues during the '60s folk boom, of which Dylan was a major player. The St. Paul street in question does contain the number four, so we'll concede that point. The young Dylan turf war between Hibbing (his hometown) and Duluth (his birthplace) has plenty of legitimacy, but you (typically) don't see St. Paul laying any claims — direct or otherwise — to Twin Cities-era Dylan for obvious reason: They've got nothing.
It's the wrong song
"Positively 4th Street" is a ragingly negative song, a diss track that sees Dylan throwing punches at nameless wrongdoers for four minutes. It concludes with the searing line, "Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes / You'd know what a drag it is to see you." Welcome to beautiful St. Paul, out-of-towners! Never mind the fact the pitcher-friendly line, "Do you take me for such a fool / To think I'd make contact?," doesn't make baseball sense. Released in 1965 and considered the 206th best of all-time by Rolling Stone, the song is not akin to stadium-rockers like "Who Let the Dogs Out?" or "We Will Rock You," two solid street-name options, as far as I'm concerned. It's a snarling, organ-drenched kiss-off that's spiritually similar to CeeLo Green's “Fuck You," a ditty that's likely not getting street-name consideration in the Atlanta City Council.
It's lazy reasoning
The resolution — touting itself as "as a positive development for the citizens of St. Paul" — reasons that a) Bob Dylan is from Minnesota; b) Bob Dylan has performed in St. Paul "on numerous occasions"; and c) Bob Dylan has toured more than 100 minor league ballparks across the U.S. The latter rationale holds some water, but as Council Member Dave Thune, the resolution sponsor, said Wednesday, "[It's] just for fun, because fun is good." This is what happens when you're tangled up in Baby Boomer leadership. God help us when Hold Steady fans gain the power to name things.