Thrice-signed ALS from Bob Dylan, one page both sides, 6.75 x 8.25, with the original hand-addressed mailing envelope postmarked January 20, 1962, with Dylan striking through the ‘Book of the Month Club’ address field and writing: "Bob Dylan, Earle Hotel, New York." Letter to blues musician Dave Glover, in part (spelling and grammar retained): "Hey hey hey it's me writing you a letter. Back now in that city and thinking of all that whistling harmonica music you are making back there in that dungeon hole gets me thinking and talking to my good girlfriend about the harp player I knowed—I looked high and wide and uptown and downtown for that book you wanted and I feel so bad, I can't find it—will send it tho as soon as I get it. Seen ol Dave Ray and sorta introduced him around. We went one time to see John Lee Hooker paying his dues to the blues at Folky City. Ol Dave is doing & singing & playing better & better every day—Sometime I get the feeling that if it wasn't for New York, I'd move here…I was up in Schenectady last week playing and singing—I spent so much money that I went in the hole and had to play an extra nite just to get back to New York. Hope sometime to get an apartment so if you're ever out this way drop by and my house is yours—it's getting colder here now and the wind blows right thru to your bones—you'd think you were [in] a swamp land when you walk down the street or something. I'm a gonna take Dave Ray to see Gary Davis sometime soon—Dave then would automatically be 10 times better—How's old Witch and Cynthia and some a those other Mpls folks working out—If you wanna write me—send a letter to Bob Dylan—Earle Hotel—Washington Square North—New York, N.Y. That's about all for now I guess—I'm starting to play poker sometimes to pass my worries away—I got about 25 dollars worth of worries now…O.K. S. B. Williamson—if you got time drop a line or something like that—Say hello to that Mississippi River for me. I'll be on my way now." Dylan concludes with a famous quote from Woody Guthrie—"This world is yours, take it easy but take it, Woody Guthrie"—and then adds a signed postscript: "My girlfriend says that you don't sign your full name to friends so—Me, Bob." In fine condition.
Not long after cutting his debut album and moving into a flat on 161 West Fourth Street, Dylan returned home to Minnesota. On December 22, 1961, the 22-year-old stopped at ‘The Minnesota Hotel,’ the nickname of the Dinkytown apartment of Bonnie Beacher, a former girlfriend (and ostensibly the referenced “old Witch”) whose extensive record collection made a profound impact on Dylan’s musical career. Surrounded by the familiar faces of “some a those other Mpls folks,” spectators from his coffee house days at the Ten O'Clock Scholar, Dylan played through a variety of folk, blues, and gospel standards, with the recipient, Tony Glover, recording the intimate concert on a reel-to-reel tape recorder.
A semblance of pride, perhaps edging on one-upmanship, can be discerned in the words of Dylan, now back in New York. He casually namedrops the likes of blues legends John Lee Hooker and Reverend Gary Davis, and notes that the experience for the visiting Dave Ray—guitarist in the Koerner, Ray & Glover trio—would prove to make him “10 times better.” Subtle boasting aside, Dylan’s breakthrough spot as Hooker’s opening act at “Folky City” in April 1961, was indeed a game-changing gig—‘He'd sit around and watch me play,’ recalled Hooker. ‘He'd be right there every night, and we'd be playing guitars in the hotel. I don't know what he got from me, but he must've got something.’
Dylan’s mention of “S. B. Williamson” relates to an inside joke that doesn’t quite concern the famed harmonicist. After Dylan and Glover had played a few songs for an enterprising movie producer, they both were handed contracts to sign. Dylan, already under contract to Columbia, signed as ‘B. L. Jefferson’ for Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Glover signed as ‘S. B. Williamson’ for Sonny Boy Williamson. The movie, according to Glover, was never released: ‘They ran out of funding somewhere. But somehow there’s a piece of magnetic tape somewhere around with about 20 minutes of Dylan with occasional Glover on it.’
A wonderfully early handwritten letter from Dylan that connects his modest Minnesota past with his successful and star-studded present as a Greenwich Village staple. Augmenting the letter even further is the brilliant and decidedly rare quote from Woody Guthrie that caps off the letter—any item that directly links Dylan with his musical icon is highly sought after. From the Tony Glover Collection.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.