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The Bob Dylan Scrapbook 1956-1966, by Bob Dylan, Robert Santelli
The book of the film of the spokesman of more than one generation
Monday 07 November 2005
The Bob Dylan Scrapbook is, essentially, the book of the film. It offers both a nostalgic wallow and an in-depth look at key moments in Dylan's turbo-powered development.
Spiral-bound and slipcased, it takes the same form as Lennon Legend, with facsimiles of lyrics, concert posters, Dylan's pass as a "platform guest" at the March on Washington when Dr Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech, plus a CD of interviews. An October 1963 leaflet of concerts at Carnegie Hall shows Dylan rubbing shoulders with, among others, Stokowski and Rostropovich.
The text, by the Dylan specialist Robert Santelli, offers no startling insights, but that's not the point, which is to show how Dylan's talent and career developed. What is interesting is to see the handwritten lyrics and chords to "Blowin' in the Wind", apparently completed in just half an hour. There are no line changes, but Dylan had second thoughts about which verse should come last. "Chimes of Freedom", written on notepaper from the Waldorf Astoria in Toronto, shows more signs of re-writing, not surprisingly given the song's complexity. The use of both pencil and ballpoint suggests that it was written over at least two sittings. Cigarette burns add to the authenticity.
He was in London's May Fair Hotel when he wrote "It Ain't Me Babe", and the intensity displayed on screen is evident on the page: you can see how hard Dylan's purple-blue ballpoint has pressed into the paper. On the reverse of the page are doodles, snatches of surrealist prose and his thoughts, about not being "a folksinger", on the musical battles he was starting to fight.
As in the film, there are great images, reminders of a more vital time when music and social action came together. Dylan always denied that he set out to write protest songs, and said that he didn't want to be the spokesman of his generation. Maybe, but that he gave his generation and many to follow so many timeless songs cannot be denied.
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