Local Current Blog

Keith Richards faxes – and more things we want to see from Bob Dylan’s archive in Oklahoma

A recreation of Keith Richards's fax to Bob Dylan (Jay Gabler/MPR)

An archive full of personal effects from Bob Dylan’s life has been sold to the University of Tulsa and the Kaiser Family Foundation — and is now accessible to approved scholars. Though much remains to be cataloged, a 39-page document details some of the archive’s interesting contents. If we were able to see the archive for ourselves, here are a few of the many things we would love to check out.

Political writings

One box in the archives contains “miscellaneous manuscript notes, writings and song fragments, c. 1968-1974. Includes a ticket for a Buffy St. Marie show in 1974, various business cards with notes; prose and lyric fragments; political writings; lists; and a set list in two acts.” What were Dylan’s thoughts on Watergate?

Unreleased songs

A blue pocket memo book, circa 1969-71, contains “lyric fragments and chord progressions for unrecorded songs including “Lonely For You” and “You Got to Fall”; Alfred Hitchcock’s California address; and Eat the Document editing notes.”

Unseen lyrics

A yellow pocket memo book, circa 1967-68, is “filled with lyric fragments and completed verses, none of which identify with songs Dylan recorded during this period.” Abandoned projects, or perhaps just musings?

“Porky Morgan”

A hardbound black notebook contains “several pen and ink drawings alongside longer prose pieces in Dylan’s hand including one titled, ‘Porky Morgan.'”

Dylan’s wallet

Dylan’s leather wallet from 1966 has “ten inserts, including two pieces of paper with Johnny Cash’s contact information and three business cards (Otis Redding, ID Magazine, and journalist Annette Kullenberg).”

“Hurricane” Carter research

A box of correspondence from the late ’60s and early ’70s contains “letters regarding Dylan’s royalty rates; a press release announcing that Jimi Hendrix has joined the Woodstock festival line-up; a staple-bound pamphlet titled ‘An Evening with Salvador Allende’; a carbon news article about the trial of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter; a single sheet of ‘The Hurricane Trust Fund’ stationery. Also present is Dylan’s May 1965 Ministry of Labour Permit allowing him to perform in the United Kingdom (performances filmed by documentarian D.A. Pennebaker, and which appear in the 1967 film, Don’t Look Back).”

The ordeal of boxer “Hurricane” Carter would inspire Dylan’s classic 1975 song “Hurricane.”

Dylan’s faxes

Among the correspondence that’s been cataloged so far: faxes from Keith Richards, Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, and — wait for it — Jimmy Carter.

What does Keith Richards fax to Bob Dylan? What does that cover sheet look like?

Dylan’s Rolodex

A list of telephone numbers include the digits for Allen Ginsberg, Carly Simon, David Bromberg, John Lennon, Al Kooper, and Robert Johnson. Probably that’s not the Robert Johnson — the legendary bluesman, who died before Dylan was born — but if anyone had Robert Johnson’s number in heaven, it would be Bob Dylan.

Dylan’s to-do list

A green pocket memo book, circa 1967-68, contains “unfinished lyric fragments and prose pieces (e.g. ‘The Heat’), Bible verses and small drawings alongside a ‘to do’ list.”

What’s on a Bob Dylan to-do list in 1967?


Written by Hanna Bubser and Jay Gabler