Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan was asked by Minneapolis resident “Rock and Roll Renaissance Man” Tony Glover in an unpublished 1971 interview if he changed his name because of a “prejudice thing.” Dylan replied: “No, I wouldn’t think so.”
Dylan, 79, was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, and grew in the local Jewish community. In the interview, Dylan jokes: “I mean, it wouldn’t’ve worked if I’d changed the name to Bob Levy. Or Bob Neuwirth. Or Bob Doughnut.”
The interviews were for an article Glover was writing for Esquire, which the magazine eventually rejected, and Dylan apparently lost interest in the project.
The interview notes are part of a large collection of Dylan and Glover memorabilia Glover’s widow, Cynthia Nadler, put up for an auction, with RR Auction in Boston. The online bidding begins November 12 and ends Nov. 19, according to RR Auction’s executive vice president Bobby Livingston.
The collection also includes handwritten annotations in blue ink in which Dylan wrote: “A lot of people are under the impression that Jews are just money lenders and merchants. A lot of people think that all Jews are like that. Well, they used to be ’cause that’s all that was open to them. That’s all they were allowed to do.”
According to the RR Auction website, Glover was a prolific collector, retaining an impressive variety of ephemera and artifacts from the realms in which he worked. His collection includes correspondence with Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Donovan, and Pete Seeger; transcripts of the unpublished 1971 interview with Dylan, hand-edited by Dylan himself; early Dylan posters and programs; original photography; audio tape recordings of interviews with Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Robbie Robertson, and the Allman Brothers; and an eclectic personal vinyl collection of over 2,400 records.
Tony Glover’s copy of his completed 1971 interview with Bob Dylan, comprising a two-page “Notes on the Interview” document setting the scene plus a final draft of the 46-page interview. The first page is signed at the top in blue ballpoint by Dylan, “Bob Dylan,” as approved for publication; it is also marked “TG” in the corner, identifying it as Glover’s copy.
In the introductory notes, Glover outlines the “sometimes surrealistic” process of arranging and conducting the interview, held over three days in Dylan’s Greenwich Village studio/office in March 1971. He makes note of Dylan’s interview style—”He preferred to discuss the things he knows best—music and his life in it—usually parrying questions of current ‘social’ topics with a gentle sarcasm”—and concludes that the “main impression he gave was that of a man refusing to be categorized.” Summarizing the interview, Glover observes that “on some matters Dylan remains invisible, in others he reveals a good deal more than he has ever before.”
Interestingly, although he does discuss the arduous legal matters involved in arranging the interview, and calls it “one of the most demanding and enjoyable rides I’ve ever head,” Glover does not reveal that he ceded total control of the manuscript to Dylan, allowing him to edit and re-edit the material before publication. This was a process that continued even in this final, “approved” draft. Glover makes several minor changes throughout the transcript in black felt tip, based on changes made by Dylan in another copy.
In the interview transcript Glover asks if Dylan’s hit song “Lay Lady Lay” was originally written for the 1969 Oscar-winning movie “Midnight Cowboy,” and Dylan cuts him off, saying, “Actually, it was written for Barbra Streisand” – presumably for Streisand to include in her repertoire. Streisand, 78, told NBC News on Wednesday: “I’m very flattered to find out that Bob Dylan wrote ‘Lay Lady Lay’ for me. What I remember is getting flowers from him with a handwritten note asking me to sing a duet with him, but I just couldn’t imagine it then. Guess what, Bob, I can imagine doing it now!”