October 22, 2017

Bob Dylan: A Living Legend Now Enshrined

Photo courtesy of startribune.com

by Joe Clancy ’18

A&E Staff

Bob Dylan, the backwoods-born, folk-singing, outspoken, and recently awarded Nobel Laureate, continues to build upon his quirks. The latest addition to Dylan’s eccentric story is the creation and opening of an archive dedicated solely to him. Normally, it would seem strange that a musician would have a museum dedicated to himself before he or she dies, but Dylan is by no means normal. At the age of 75, the artist simply proves that genius ought to be awarded no matter the time, genre, or age.

The Bob Dylan Archive, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is now open to researchers wishing to learn more about the artist and growing legend. The archive will soon feature a more public venue, but for now features over 6,000 artifacts collected from various points in Dylan’s life. This includes a variety of primary sources such as lyrics, photographs, contracts, private letters, and both video and audio recordings.

For those who wish to write scholarly criticism on the artist, these resources are precious. Randall Fuller, a professor of English at Tulsa University, plans to utilize the archive in his project of writing a book on the relationship between Dylan and African-American music. “The Bob Dylan Archive is an invaluable resource for this project,” he said. “I’m discovering so many revelations in the songwriter’s exploration of blues, gospel and soul forms. Without access to the archive, my book would be all but impossible.”

According to the archive’s curator, Michael Chaiken, the audio and film reels would take about 113 days to watch and listen to consecutively. All of it though, Chaiken says, is valuable. For the curator, the outtakes from the recording studio were particularly rewarding to hear. “He’s like a Miles Davis character…,” he says, “there’s so much improvisation going on and moving things around, trying to find the rhythm.”

The very location of the archive seems to capture the artist’s off-beat nature. Many are still confused as to why Dylan would have his works brought to Tulsa when the city is not overtly important to the artist nor  is it home to an Ivy League school. Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota and gained the majority of his fame in New York City, so the choice of Tulsa left many scratching their heads.

That, however, is part of the legacy of the voice of a generation. Dylan has always avoided convention and will always provoke his audience to ask, “why?” The archive may prove to answer some questions about him, but it seems there will always be more Dylan to be discovered and understood.

4 thoughts on “Bob Dylan: A Living Legend Now Enshrined

  • Paul Long says:

    “Backwoods born”? Come on he come from a small town let’s get a hold of ourselves,no ways is he hillbilly okie or any “po boy”story.I do see him as an incredible swordsman pretty good guitarist average pianist. I think his insight into the world is incredible and the timeing of his award is perfect.Not too soon or too late, always loved most of his songs, some, well he’s only human!

  • Robert reid says:

    A legend,a living legend,the lone voice of a protest generation,may you continue to sing your songs and may we continue listen.

  • Skye says:

    Tulsa, Oklahoma is home to the Woody Guthrie Museum, so I think that is your answer. Woody was Dylan’s idol and mentor as a young man and musician. Tradition and lineage are very important to Bob Dylan, so Tulsa seems the perfect fit in many ways.

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