Now somebody else is going to be allowed to see what I said to myself.
— Bob Dylan to Paul Robbins, 1965
Bob Dylan said this in 1965 about his novel Tarantula, which was not officially published until 1971. One reason for the delay was that Dylan didn’t want it released; already a famously private public personality, perhaps he’d had second thoughts about letting anyone else see what he said to himself.
Literary archives are the most intimate way for a scholar to gain access to a writer’s creative process. The Bob Dylan Archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma, now open for research on a strictly regulated basis, provides astonishing revelations about Dylan’s care in drafting, revising, rewriting, and perfecting. In pristine acid-free grey boxes and brand-new mylar sleeves rest notebooks, shards of note pads, hotel stationery, business cards, even bits of brown paper bags, covered in Dylan’s small, hard-to-read handwriting. As James Joyce did, Dylan writes on anything and everything to hand, when the words and phrases strike, which seems to be any time, all the time. I could absolutely have stayed forever and never realized the time, but my purpose, on a first visit, was to review the Blood On the Tracks song drafts written in two spiral notebooks that have, until now, been inaccessible….
* Please read the rest of this article in hard copy as the cover story in Hot Press Annual 2019, published on November 29, 2018. Thank you.
Copyright © 1974 Ram’s Horn Music. Renewed, 2002 Ram’s Horn Music. Additional lyrics, Copyright © 2018 Ram’s Horn Music. Courtesy of THE BOB DYLAN ARCHIVE® Collections, Tulsa, OK.