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December 2, 2010


Filed under: 150 Best Minnesota Books — Pat Coleman @ 4:42 pm

I’ll just sit here and watch the river flow and lick my wounds…

On December 10th Sotheby’s [London] is auctioning off what is arguably the most significant piece of 20th Century Western culture to come on the market, Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” Critics have run out of superlatives to describe Dylan’s genius and even a phrase like “the voice of a generation” seems laughably inadequate. The auction estimate of $ 200 -300 thousand dollars will, I predict, be shattered. I would want to go to the auction with a half a million to feel competitive. While we sit here, all tangled up in blue,    hoping for an angel to bring this home to Minnesota, let’s nominate Dylan to our 150 Best Minnesota Books list.

Bob Dylan. Tarantula. Hibbing, Minnesota: Wimp Press, [1970].


Like an inordinately large number of books on our list Tarantula has an interesting publishing history. Dylan’s first book – consisting of largely enigmatic poetry – was scheduled to be published in 1966. He was 23, a “famous shy boy,” and a “magic name,” as the publisher said. His motorcycle accident delayed the publication because Dylan was in the process of making a few changes when he was sidelined. Since the publisher, Macmillan, had galleys already made up the inevitable happened. Like everything “Dylan” it was bootlegged. The first bootleg copy was allegedly printed in Hibbing under the imprint of the Wimp Press. It was a low quality mimeographed printing which promised that any profits would “contribute to the furtherance of Woodstock Nation.”  Because this edition is virtually impossible to find nowadays we will allow collectors of all 150 best books to substitute the first legal printing of the book published by the Macmillan Company in 1971. In fact if you don’t have the money to buy the above mentioned holy grail of Dylan manuscripts, there is an autographed copy of Tarantula available for just $15,000. The MHS library has Professor Dennis Anderson’s copy of the book along with boxes of his research material gathered in Europe where he taught a class on Dylan.  From the book…

look, you know i don’t wanna

come on ungrateful, but that

warren report, you know as well

as me, just didn’t make it. you know.

like they might as well have

asked some banana salesman from

des moines, who was up in Toronto

on the big day, if he saw anyone

around looking suspicious/…

Allow me one more pontification: Dylan’s Chronicles is a “Minnesota Must Read” [not that that is the list we are making here]. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised by how fun and informative the book is.

Chronicles: Volume One

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3 Responses to “Dylan”

  1. Ulster Says:

    Good choice but pehaps you should have gone with Chronicles as the best book. As you say it is readable and informative while his first book is neither.Good luck getting the manuscript. I can’t think of any one song that effected history more. Well there was that “John Brown’s Body” tune. OK, since the Civil War.

  2. Carrie Says:

    It’s too bad Minnesota isn’t going to get the lyrics – let’s hope they at least end up in a public collection somewhere.

  3. Patrick Coleman Says:

    True that, Carrie! Last time I lost Dylan manuscripts to a private collector in Germany who out bid me – and we are unlikely to ever see them again. And those were his earlist known writings! Poetry from the time he was haning aroung the U of M.

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