Bob Dylan’s On Wisconsin

As you might imagine, Dylan's version of On Wisconsin differs from UW’s fight song.

Wisconsin music, Dylan lyrics
Published On: May 25, 2023

Bob Dylan celebrated his 82nd birthday this week. And as well-wishers filled the internet’s various tubes and such with messages, news reached the Drink Wisconsinbly Week in Review that the legendary artist once wrote a song about Wisconsin. In addition, after the handwritten lyrics for the song called On Wisconsin were discovered and put up for auction, a local musician named Trapper Schoepp reached out to Dylan and got permission to compose music and record the song himself.

Now, this all went down in 2017 and 2018 but somehow flew beneath the radar of our crack team of reporters. The fax machine in the Drink Wisconsinbly Week in Review News Room has been out of paper since 2014, so we may have missed the press release.

Anyway, as you might imagine, Dylan’s version of On Wisconsin differs from UW’s fight song. It tells the story of a traveler headed home, dreaming of the milk, cream, and idyllic sights of his ultimate destination.

Dylan, of course, hails from Minnesota, a state known primarily for producing annoying football fans. He did, however, live in Madison in 1960 before he made his way to New York and superstardom. He wrote On Wisconsin sometime in the following year.

Dylan had given the lyrics to a friend. From there, they found their way to an auction house decades later. That’s when Trapper Schoepp got an idea, took a chance, and ended up sharing a songwriting credit with a mythic figure in American music.

Trapper Schoepp is based in Milwaukee and continues to record and perform. You can find more of his music on Spotify and check him out live at venues around the state this summer. And, um, Bob Dylan is still out there, too.