Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Einstein Disguised as Robin Hood Opens at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

This week on May 4 Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Duluth, MN, opens its doors to a new Dylan-themed collection titled Einstein Disguised as Robin Hood - Bob Dylan, an Exhibition. The items selected for display come from the collection of Bill Pagel, a respected Dylan historian, researcher and collector of Dylan memorabilia. The exhibition, one of several new events added to this year's Duluth Dylan Fest, will be open to the public throughout the month of May with at least two special events taking place concurrent with this exhibition. The first will be a special open house on May 13. The second event will take place Wednesday, May 25 during the week of Duluth Dylan Fest (May 22-29), an 8:00 p.m. concert featuring the band Cowboy Angel Blue.

Mike Shannon examines case with rare early documents.*
Tonight I had the privilege of being invited to a private opening and found myself unexpectedly moved by some of what was displayed in the 26 display cases containing scarce to rare Dylan photographs, manuscripts, acetates, and other memorabilia. Early handwritten lyric sheets of several songs are here and a number of real surprises, including the actual document in which Robert Zimmerman changed his name to Dylan.

During the reception I overheard someone state something to the effect that Dylan should not be compared to Einstein. They were commenting on the title of the show and I gently indicated that the title came from a line in Desolation Row from Highway 61 Revisited. I wanted to add it would be better to compare Dylan to Shakespeare. As John Bushey indicated in an interview for local television Dylan will most likely be the one songwriter from our time whose works will be studied well into the future. Decades? Centuries? Time will tell.

One item I found especially touching was a letter Suze Rotolo, his first serious girl friend in New York, wrote to her mother expressing strong emotions about how rudely and disrespectfully her mom treated Bob. The letter, typed in red ink that reminded me of one of my own early typewriters, is quite direct and revealing.

His birth announced in the local papers, 1941.
It's strange how you might expect to take some of the original handwritten lyrics for granted when you see them but then find yourself moved and drawn in by the tiny but neatly scribed letters, words, stanzas. In this internet age the phrase "content is king" has become a maxim. From the beginning Dylan produced content, substance, penetrating imperatives, weighty observations... a periodic table of potent lyrical insights. He has spent his lifetime being a fountain of content both remarkable and noteworthy.

OK, so tonight I got my first glimpse of what is on display. As time permits I'll share more, and if you are here in Duluth in the weeks to come you'll need to make your way to Karpeles as well.

Bill Pagel (L) discussin early documents with Gene Lafond & Amy Grillo.**

About Bill Pagel: Bill Pagel is known worldwide by Dylan fans for his boblinks.com website, a site devoted to all things related to Dylan’s touring.

About Duluth Dylan Fest: The 2016 Duluth Dylan Fest will take place at various venues in Duluth and Superior from May 22 through May 29. The event is now in its sixth year. Learn more at BobDylanWay.com

* Included in this case is the original Robert Shelton story that appeared in theNew York Times drawing attention to this unusual new Greenwich Village performer, catapulting him onto a path from which he couldn't look back.
** Gene first saw Bob in Dinkytown when he attended U of MN in 1961

Special thanks to John Bushey, host of the KUMD program Highway 61 Revisited, now in its 25th year.

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