An archive of Bob Dylan‘s correspondence and papers belonging to the late blues artist Tony Glover sold at auction for $495,000 this week. The majority of the items were won by an anonymous bidder.
Glover, who died last year at the age of 79, was a Minnesota-based harmonica player, and also a contributor to Rolling Stone. He befriended Dylan at a very young age, and remained active in the local scene. (Here he is with Minnesota legends The Replacements as recently as 2014.) Over the years he jammed with The Doors, The Allman Brothers Band, Patti Smith, and Beck. He even tutored Mick Jagger on harmonica. When Dylan played the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, the poem he contributed to the program was dedicated to Glover, whom he called a “best friend in the highest form.”
As such, Glover’s material is of high value to Dylanologists. Among its treasures is a handwritten note from 1962 containing unseen lyrics concerning a trip Dylan and Glover took to visit Woody Guthrie at Brooklyn State Hospital. (This ultimately became the origin of “Song to Woody” on Dylan’s first album.) Another letter Dylan wrote to his friend was penned just after he first met The Beatles. (“John Lennon groovy also Ringo,” the letter reads.)
A big highlight is a 47-page interview transcript between Glover and Dylan, hand annotated by Dylan himself in 1971. One revelation, written in the margins, is that Dylan composed his hit song “Lay Lady Lay” for Barbra Streisand.
The interview also suggests anti-Semitism inspired Dylan, who is Jewish, to change his name from Robert Zimmerman. In the conversation he, in typical Dylan fashion, said he could have changed his name to anything, including “Bob Neuwirth” (an in-joke concerning an artists in Dylan’s inner circle) or “Bob Doughnut.” Later, in the handwritten revisions, he added, “a lot of people are under the impression that Jews are just money lenders and merchants. A lot of people think that all Jews are like that. Well they used to be cause that’s all that was open to them. That’s all they were allowed to do.”
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