ALS, signed “Bob Dylan,” one page, 7.25 x 10.5, Park Plaza Hotel letterhead, no date but circa April 1980. Letter to a friend named “Steve,” in full: “We are up in Toronto singing and playing for about 3000 people a night in a downtown theatre—The Spirit of the Lord is calling people here in their beautiful and clean city but they are more interested in lining up for Apocalypse Now than to be baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost—Wanna thank you for that Bible as it is helpful in discovering a few phrases from and shedding more light on what the King James version reads—God will lift up your heart as you begin to realize that ‘He thru Christ has reconsiled [sic] man unto Himself’ (II Corinthians). You are in basic training and boot camp and I thank God you are and your commitment runs deep and you will be used to minister and break the hold of darkness in those you become face to face with—‘Study to show thyself approval.’ You will be strong in the Lord and seeing that looks are deceiving, you will work miracles that way—He has called you to be a saint and your responsibility is to him and him alone—Be praying and not looking back no more—press on toward what is ahead—I send love to you and will pray for strength and more strength for ya—Always in the name of Jesus Christ Son of God, Manifest in the flesh.” In very good to fine condition, with mailing folds and light fading. Accompanied by the original transmittal envelope, addressed in Dylan’s hand to “Steve.”
By the time Dylan arrived in Toronto for his legendary Massey Hall run as part of the ‘Bob Dylan Gospel Tour,’ he had been preaching hellfire and brimstone for a year since his very public conversion to Christianity. He proceeded with nightly sermons on the fulfillment of the prophesies of Revelation, citing Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan and an increasingly unstable Middle East, but was frustrated to find the public more interested in seeing Apocalypse Now—an exploration of darkness—than in seeking the ‘light’ as the true apocalypse drew near. Dylan’s songs, too, took on a spiritual tone, and although he declined to play his hits of the past, his songwriting skills remained. His tight backing band, choir of gospel singers, and passionate stage presence made for some very powerful performances, and among the most enduring songs from this period are ‘Gotta Serve Somebody,’ ‘Solid Rock,’ and ‘Every Grain of Sand.’ This remarkable letter offers enormous insight into Dylan’s thoughts during a critical period of his career, and such lengthy handwritten material by Dylan is of the utmost rarity. Pre-certified REAL.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.