In 2016 the Tulsa based George Kaiser Family Foundation purchased Bob Dylan’s archives from him and several years later opened up the Bob Dylan Center in the Arts District just north of Downtown Tulsa. I visited it recently.
The archive consists of over 100,000 items. Everything from clothes, to piano frames, to manuscripts, art works, music recordings, diaries, all sorts of records. Dylan was some sort of pack rat it appears and now his collection is in a place where it can be cataloged, preserved, and put on display.
The center starts with Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota and goes on from there through all his various personal permutations and tribulations.
One of the supercool features of the center are these Ipods that are activated at dozens of touchpoints throughout the facility. You can hear interviews, music footage, reviews and all sorts of stuff. I thought these were very nice and worked lots better than similar things I have used at other museums. And it is covered under your admission price.
I’ll have to admit that I was never much of a Dylan fan. He was about half a generation ahead of me and so he and I never synched up except for a few songs.
What I learned about Dylan though was that he was all about the music and not so much about sales. He morphed several times in his career, folk music to rock, to country, to gospel. Sometimes his fans didn’t really want to go with him, he didn’t care, he did what he had to do.
The center picked out several songs and displays in detail the painstaking process that Dylan went through writing and rewriting the songs, sometimes it would take years. The guy put everything he had into his music.
He kept his scribblings as he worked things over and over and changed the songs over time.
They also have many of the costumes he wore over the years in his concerts.
There is a gigantic virtual juke box machine curated by Elvis Costello containing almost every song he ever did, or wrote, or collaborated with somebody else on. Turns out he wrote lots of songs for other performers.
I was there for a couple hours and went over everything twice and listened on the ipod to at list a little bit of dozens of songs and interviews. It was overwhelming. I told me wife about it. She is all about music and now she is all excited about going, so I get to go again!!
He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 for his body of work. Reading his thoughts about it, it took him a while to understand that. He just couldn’t figure out why a songwriter was deserving of the honor. He accepted it though.
Here is a musical interlude. I told you that I wasn’t much of a fan but I loved Hurricane from 1975’s Blood on the Tracks album.