Fans and scholars of American folk music icon Bob Dylan are buzzing with excitement to learn rumors of Dylan’s secret archive are not only true, but are more vast than anyone could have imagined. One of the more notorious notebooks within the archives, which had only been seen by a lucky few within Dylan’s tight circle, was dubbed by Rolling Stone as the “Maltese Falcon of Dylanology.”
According to the New York Times, a group of institutions in Oklahoma paid an estimated $15 million to $20 million to obtain Dylan’s archive of 6,000 pieces. The group plans to use the archives as a source of academic study to dive deep into the meaning of Dylan’s famous songs.
Sean Wilentz, a Princeton historian and the author of Bob Dylan in America, was thrilled to learn the news.
“It’s going to start anew the way people study Dylan,” said Wilentz.
Dylan was also happy to learn his archives had been found “and are to be included with the works of Woody Guthrie and especially alongside all the valuable artifacts from the Native American nations.”
American singer, songwriter, and musician Woody Guthrie was Bob Dylan’s early in life idol. Dylan was more than pleased for his works to be placed next to the artist who was arguably one of his greatest influences in his songwriting.
“To me it makes a lot of sense, and it’s a great honor,” Dylan added.
Dylan’s archives contain so much more than just song lyrics and numerous, almost obsessive self-edits on coffee stained paper. Also revealed were photographs, contracts, video footage, letters, and other correspondences from famous artists. In a card dated November 1978, Barbara Streisand thanks Dylan for the flowers. Unfortunately, her suggestion for making music together never came to fruition.
There is a lot of excited buzz surrounding the discovery of the Dylan archives, but fans will be disappointed to learn that although some of the material will be available to the public, the majority of the archive will be kept at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa and will be available only to “serious scholars and for people who have a record of being Dylanologists,” University of Tulsa President Steadman Upham told the New York Times.
Dylan has been influential in American music and culture for over five decades. His lyrics reflected the social unrest of the 60s. Anti-war and civil rights songs such as “The Time’s They Are a-Changing” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” became anthems for the 60’s generation.
Even at the age of 74, Dylan is still touring and selling out concert venues with fans of all ages. His catchy music and thought-provoking lyrics speak to generations of song lovers. Several of Bob Dylan’s albums made it onto Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums ever recorded. Both Highway 65 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde made it into the top 10.
With lyrics from even minor songs such as “Dignity” which have 40 pages of rewrites, the archives are about to reveal to fans and Dylan scholars just how deep the Bob Dylan rabbit hole goes.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]