Monday, February 15, 2016
Bob Dylan: NYC 1961-1964
A slightly edited version of this piece appeared in the Sunday Times on the 14th February 2016
These are images from a time capsule. In the early Sixties Life photographer Ted Russell took an extended series of photographs of the aspiring musician with a view to doing a feature in the magazine. His editor demurred after listening to Dylan's music and the images have lain unseen for over 50 years. They show us the young Dylan at home in Greenwich Village, often with Suze Rotolo (the girl on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album), or in clubs such as Gerde's Folk City where he played his first major gig. There's plenty of domestic detail - the rumpled bed, the cheap wine bottles and the problematical art. Over the four years portrayed you see a gradual evolution from the callow and eager to the cool and self-contained - the cigarette a constant prop. These are the years of his Woody Guthrie persona - all work shirts and social awareness. This was before he went electric and became a rock star - between With God on Our Side and Like a Rolling Stone. It's a smiling amiable Dylan far from the croaking curmudgeon we encounter at his concerts these days. The associated book contains all the photographs in the show as well as an hilariously self-aggrandising foreword by Donovan.
Gallery of Photography