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Lot # 1298 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1956 Bob Dylan (Bob Zimmerman) Earliest Known Handwritten Poems

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $12,760.00

Presented are what may be the earliest surviving creative prose of Bob Dylan, written by Dylan as a teenager while attending Hibbing High School in Hibbing, Minnesota. These poems are of extraordinary significance, literally representing the dawn of Dylan's creative powers. They are significant not just because they are so early, but because they present the genesis of Bob Dylan's song lyrics in the years to come, foreshadowing themes captured in his classic ballads just a few short years later, as he emerged on the national scene as a rebel-bard, electrifying the youth of America with songs of protest. When Dylan came on the national scene in 1960, he was a force unlike any singer-songwriter before him, addressing social issues in style and content in a manner previously unknown, breaking all the rules, a fierce nonconformist and passionate critic of racism, injustice, and war who galvanized the youth of America. The first line the first poem opens with "There is a boy in school/Who don't live by no rule." This is where Bob Dylan, the revolutionary singer-songwriter who created the anthems of change and protest for his generation, came from. The two poems have been printed by Dylan in pencil on both sides of a single sheet, which survives today only because it was saved by Dylan's boyhood friend and classmate Dale Boutang. The reason that Boutang kept the sheet all these years is because he is featured as one of the main characters in the second opus. The first (which Dylan has noted as "Good Poem"), reads: "There is a boy in school/Who don't live by no rule/He hands everyone lots of sass/Thinking no one will kick his ass/He tries to act like Lett Rink/But he really acts like a dink/Jimmy, he thinks himself like/Just cause he owns a motor bike/He's a little, fuzzy, kid, not too tall/And boy, is he heading for a fall." The poem's references to a motorbike and "taking a fall" are ironic in that Dylan had a serious motorcycle accident in 1966, in which he broke his neck, and which caused him to fall from public view for many months while recuperating. The second poem (noted as "Bad Poem" by Dylan) concerns a fictional arm wrestling match between Boutang and another friend, Melvin Raatsi. The second poem reads in part: "Waiting in the house was Raatsi on the bed/'I'm gonna pin Boutang's arm,' Melvin, then said/A noise outside! and Raatsi's face had gleam/Ah ha, it was Dale coming on his machine/Raatsi came to the door and opened it wide/Dale Boutang then stepped inside/Roll up that sleeve and let's get to work,'/Said Melvin Raatsi with a great big smirk/'I'm gonna arm-wrestle you to death said Mel the boy/'Shut up,' said Boutang,' I'll take care of you like a little toy..." The sheet is accompanied by letter from Dale Boutang attesting to its provenance as well as a small b/w snapshot photo (Vg-Ex) of Dylan (on a motorcycle) and Boutang posing together while in high school. Dylan's early love of motorcycles obviously dates to his high school days, as can be seen both in this snapshot and in both poems. These were also the days of James Dean's great popularity in films. James Dean was one of Dylan's few early heroes and his tremendous influence on Dylan is unmistakable here as well. In fact, the "Jimmy" in the first stanza (Jimmy, he thinks himself like/Just cause he owns a motor bike) is not one of Bob Dylan's friends: It is James Dean. The unlined sheet (5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches) displays a vertical and three horizontal fold lines (along the lengths of which there are some light tears) as well as a number of edge tears (minor paper loss) which affect some portions of the text. Despite the fragile nature of the piece it remains perfectly legible and offers amazing insight into the early creative mind of one of music's iconic and influential figures. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$4,000. The items in this lot are currently on loan by special request to the Experience Music Project's museum exhibit entitled Bob Dylan's American Journey 1956-1966, which runs through April 2006. Over the next two years, this landmark show will become a national traveling museum exhibit that will go to five additional venues: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the Pierpont Morgan Library in NYC; the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis; the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC; and one other venue to be named. It is hoped that the winner of this lot will allow the continued display of these items through 2008, and if such permission is granted by the winner, arrangements will be made conveniently. SOLD FOR $12,760.00


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