Dear everybody who writes their thoughts on paper—the train scribes, the vacation writers, the before-bed scriveners, the ebullient musicians—with dreams of one day having your art appreciated: Keep doing what you’re doing.
On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article that reveals Bob Dylan has in fact maintained a trove of personal items—lyrics, correspondence, recordings, films and photographs—making rumors about such an archive true, and then some. And it sold for an estimated $15-20 million.
Bought by the George Kaiser Family Foundation—whose namesake is an oil and banking billionaire—and the University of Tulsa, Mr. Dylan’s archives are now being transferred to Oklahoma, the home state of Woody Guthrie, Mr. Dylan’s early idol. After two years of cataloging and digitization, the material will take its place in Tulsa alongside a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence, a cache of Native American art and the papers of Guthrie.
That’s right. You read that right. Bob Dylan’s typed-up lyrics to “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Dignity,” or notebook detailing his Blood on the Tracks album, along with plenty of other historical treasures from the living legend, will be hang out in an air-controlled place next to the Declaration of Independence.
Though the Times received only a preview of the trove, not the entire shebang, the article includes some fascinating tidbits. My favorite among them is a 1969 telegram (a telegram!) written by Peter Fonda and the late Dennis Hopper to Dylan, thanking the crooner, and re-outlining the terms of their agreement to use the song “It’s Alright, Ma” in Easy Rider, a fantastic film with an even more fantastic soundtrack.
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