Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” Gets Released on Instagram as a Digital “Insta Novel”: It’s Free from The New York Public Library

Back in August, we high­light­ed a new ini­tia­tive by the New York Pub­lic Library. An insti­tu­tion that’s hip with our times, the NYPL released on Insta­gram a dig­i­tal ver­sion of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land. Now, in the Hal­loween spir­it, comes a dig­i­tal adap­ta­tion of Edgar Allan Poe’s clas­sic tale, “The Raven.” They write:

“The Raven” includes a unique series of ani­ma­tions pro­duced by Psy­op and Stu­dio AKA that takes read­ers on an omi­nous pro­ces­sion through a stark psy­cho­log­i­cal land­scape where the dif­fer­ing per­spec­tives of both the Raven and Poe’s pro­tag­o­nist are depict­ed. The view­points steadi­ly inter­cut and con­verge as the ani­ma­tion builds to its dis­qui­et­ing cli­max, as the door creaks open reveal­ing “dark­ness there and noth­ing more.”

Read “The Raven” on Insta­gram here. And keep an eye out for NYPL’s upcom­ing adap­ta­tion of “The Meta­mor­pho­sis” by Franz Kaf­ka. It’s due out by the end of the year.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

900 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free

Hear Clas­sic Read­ings of Poe’s “The Raven” by Vin­cent Price, James Earl Jones, Christo­pher Walken, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee & More

Edgar Allan Poe’s the Raven: Watch an Award-Win­ning Short Film That Mod­ern­izes Poe’s Clas­sic Tale

The Raven: a Pop-up Book Brings Edgar Allan Poe’s Clas­sic Super­nat­ur­al Poem to 3D Paper Life

Gus­tave Doré’s Splen­did Illus­tra­tions of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (1884)

A Read­ing of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in 100 Celebri­ty Voic­es

The Grate­ful Dead Pays Trib­ute to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in a 1982 Con­cert: Hear “Raven Space”


36 Artists Give Advice to Young Creators: Wim Wenders, Jonathan Franzen, Lydia Davis, Patti Smith, David Byrne, Umberto Eco & More

“What­ev­er you do, nobody else can do that bet­ter than you. You have to find what you can do bet­ter than any­one else, what you have in your­self that nobody else has in them. Don’t do any­thing that you know, deep in your heart, that some­body else can do bet­ter, but do what nobody else can do except for you.” That sounds like fine advice, but when receiv­ing advice we should always con­sid­er the source. In this case we could hard­ly do bet­ter: the source is Wim Wen­ders, direc­tor of Alice in the CitiesParis, TexasWings of Desire, and many oth­er films besides, an auteur sel­dom accused of mak­ing movies any­one else could make.

Wen­ders’ inter­view clip and the oth­ers here come from “Advice to the Young,” a video series cre­at­ed by the Louisiana Muse­um in Den­mark (which has quite an impres­sive gift shop, inci­den­tal­ly, if you hap­pen to need advice on gift-shop­ping). Jonathan Franzen, author of nov­els like The Cor­rec­tionsFree­dom, and Puri­ty, admits to feel­ing embar­rass­ment about “giv­ing advice to the young writer,” but he still has valu­able words for cre­ators in any domain: “The most impor­tant advice I have is to have fun, to try to cre­ate some­thing that is fun to work on.”

And by fun he means fun like you have on a ten­nis court, where “you’re not just mess­ing around, you’re not just hit­ting the ball wher­ev­er you want — you are focused on hav­ing a game, and once you are in it you are hav­ing fun. That’s the kind of focused fun I’m talk­ing about, and if you are hav­ing that kind of focused fun, there’s a good chance that the read­er will too.”

The range of writ­ers from which Louisiana Muse­um has sought advice also includes Lydia Davis, whose sen­si­bil­i­ty may dif­fer from Franzen’s but who has gar­nered an equal (or even greater) degree of respect from her read­er­ship. “You learn from mod­els and you ana­lyze them, you study them, you ana­lyze them very close­ly, one thing at a time,” she says, begin­ning her more expan­sive advice based on her own method. “You don’t just sort of read the para­graph and say, ‘Oh, that real­ly flows, you know? That’s good.’ You say, ‘What kind of adjec­tives? How many? What kind of nouns? How long are the sen­tences? What’s the rhythm?’ You know, you pick it apart, and that’s very help­ful.” Her oth­er sug­ges­tions include to “be very patient, even patient with chaos” and to keep a note­book (“it takes some of the ten­sion and the wor­ry away, because if you write it down, it may just be a note. It does­n’t have to be the begin­ning of any­thing”).

“Do what you want to do,” Davis con­cludes, “and don’t wor­ry if it’s a lit­tle odd or does­n’t fit the mar­ket.” That bit of guid­ance seems to have worked for her, and in the great vari­ety of forms it can take seems to have worked for seem­ing­ly every oth­er artist. Take Ed Ruscha, for instance, whose can­vass­es of gas sta­tions, cor­po­rate sig­nage, and oth­er icons of Amer­i­can blank­ness must hard­ly have seemed geared toward any par­tic­u­lar “mar­ket” when first he paint­ed them. For the young he has only one piece of advice, received sec­ond-hand and briefly deliv­ered: “No one could ever beat this thing that Max Ernst said. They asked him what a young artist should do, and he said, ‘cut off an ear.’ That’s good advice to fol­low. You can’t beat that.”

Oth­er artists fea­tured in the video playlist include Lau­rie Ander­son, David Byrne, Umber­to Eco, Pat­ti Smith & more.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

21 Artists Give “Advice to the Young:” Vital Lessons from Lau­rie Ander­son, David Byrne, Umber­to Eco, Pat­ti Smith & More

Bri­an Eno’s Advice for Those Who Want to Do Their Best Cre­ative Work: Don’t Get a Job

To Make Great Films, You Must Read, Read, Read and Write, Write, Write, Say Aki­ra Kuro­sawa and Wern­er Her­zog

John Cleese’s Advice to Young Artists: “Steal Any­thing You Think Is Real­ly Good”

Walt Whit­man Gives Advice to Aspir­ing Young Writ­ers: “Don’t Write Poet­ry” & Oth­er Prac­ti­cal Tips (1888)

Ursu­la Le Guin Gives Insight­ful Writ­ing Advice in Her Free Online Work­shop

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Martin Scorsese Creates a List of the 11 Scariest Horror Films

“When it comes to ripe old fright­en­ers — or to any oth­er over­heat­ed genre — Scors­ese is the most ardent of pros­e­ly­tiz­ers,” writes the New York­er’s Antho­ny Lane in a review of that respect­ed direc­tor’s ripe-old-fright­en­er-fla­vored Shut­ter Island, “so much so that I would pre­fer to hear him enthuse about Ham­mer Hor­ror films, say, than to watch a Ham­mer Hor­ror film.” And though no Ham­mer pro­duc­tions appear on it, Scors­ese, who often seems as much film enthu­si­ast as film­mak­er, has put togeth­er a sol­id list of his per­son­al eleven scari­est hor­ror movies for The Dai­ly Beast. At its very top we have Robert Wise’s The Haunt­ing, whose trail­er you can watch above. Scors­ese promis­ing­ly describes the sto­ry of the film, orig­i­nal­ly bal­ly­hooed with the tagline “You may not believe in ghosts but you can­not deny ter­ror!,” as “about the inves­ti­ga­tion of a house plagued by vio­lent­ly assaultive spir­its.” His full and fright­en­ing list–perfect for Halloween–runs as fol­lows:

You can watch clips of all these movies over at The Dai­ly Beast. (And if you sim­ply can’t get enough of the things, see also Time Out Lon­don’s list of the 100 best hor­ror films.) Such tastes make it no sur­prise to see a Hitch­cock film make Scors­ese’s list; so much does Scors­ese love Hitch­cock­’s work — “one of my guid­ing lights,” he calls the mak­er of Psy­cho — that he once spoofed his own fan­boy­ism in a com­mer­cial for Freix­enet sparkling wine. For those who’d pre­fer a more con­ven­tion­al Scors­ese-inspired binge watch, we’ve also fea­tured his list of twelve favorite films over­all and his list of 39 Essen­tial For­eign Films. What­ev­er genre you favor, you could do much worse than tak­ing his rec­om­men­da­tions.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in Novem­ber, 2014.

via The Dai­ly Beast

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­tin Scors­ese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies (and Writes a New Essay on Film Preser­va­tion)

Mar­tin Scorsese’s Very First Films: Three Imag­i­na­tive Short Works

Time Out Lon­don Presents The 100 Best Hor­ror Films: Start by Watch­ing Four Hor­ror Clas­sics Free Online

Mar­tin Scors­ese Brings “Lost” Hitch­cock Film to Screen in Short Faux Doc­u­men­tary

Where Hor­ror Film Began: The Cab­i­net of Dr. Cali­gari

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Patti Smith’s Award-Winning Memoir, Just Kids, Now Available in a New Illustrated Edition

Hard to believe it’s almost a decade ago now since Pat­ti Smith’s Just Kids took over Barnes & Noble dis­plays, topped best­seller lists, won the Nation­al Book Award, and sent Wikipedia search­es for “Pat­ti Smith” into the stratos­phere. A mem­oir of her grit­ty New York sal­ad days with roommate/lover/best friend/soulmate/photographer Robert Map­plethor­pe, the book imme­di­ate­ly entered “that gold­en canon of clas­sic New York sto­ries about young peo­ple com­ing to the city to find out who they were meant to be,” as NPR’s Mau­reen Cor­ri­g­an writes.

Indeed, Just Kids should be con­sid­ered rep­re­sen­ta­tive, its full text now a locus clas­si­cus of bohemi­an find­ing-your­self-in-New-York sto­ries. (The embit­tered con­verse of the genre is for­ev­er crowned by Joan Didion’s “Good­bye to All That.”) But Smith didn’t rest on the many lau­rels the book gar­nered her. She released a wide­ly-acclaimed album two years lat­er, with a bonus track on the deluxe edi­tion called “Just Kids,” then col­lab­o­rat­ed with Colom­bian artist José Anto­nio Suárez Lon­doño on the (sad­ly out-of-print) Hecatomb.

In 2015, Smith fol­lowed Just Kids with anoth­er mem­oir, M Train, a trav­el­ogue of sorts—of her lit­er­ary pil­grim­ages and jour­neys through the city that embraced her. But as her work eth­ic shows, and as Just Kids doc­u­ments in detail, she didn’t just luck out in the big city but fought her way to cre­ative free­dom and inde­pen­dence with zeal and real self-con­fi­dence, believ­ing in the pow­er of poet­ry and rock and roll, and of her place among the six­ties roy­al­ty she encoun­tered while “still a gan­g­ly twen­ty-two-year-old book clerk, strug­gling simul­ta­ne­ous­ly with sev­er­al unfin­ished poems.”

“I felt an inex­plic­a­ble sense of kin­ship with these peo­ple,” she wrote, for exam­ple, of her run-ins with Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and Jimi Hen­drix ahead of Wood­stock, a “feel­ing of pre­science” that she might “one day walk in their path.” She saw “infi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties” in the Chelsea Hotel’s plas­ter ceil­ing, “the man­dala of my life.” You may call it faith, hubris, or delu­sion, but she sure showed us, and keeps show­ing us, that she earned her cred. Just Kids will inspire young artists for gen­er­a­tions, not only through its first, explo­sive print­ing, but through a pos­si­ble series on Show­time, who acquired the rights in 2015, and, now, in an illus­trat­ed edi­tion just released last week.

The book res­onates for its depic­tions of a bygone, decayed New York, when free spir­its could scrape togeth­er their artis­tic selves with next to noth­ing, with­out hav­ing to craft their every move for social media. Smith’s vivid­ly expres­sive writ­ing brings that lost world alive in a wild­ly suc­cess­ful exper­i­ment, as she told KCRW in a 2010 inter­view, to “infuse truth with mag­ic and love.”

She announced the book’s new edi­tion on her Insta­gram, a forum she has tak­en to with aplomb, as antic­i­pat­ing the “30th year since Robert Map­plethor­pe’s pass­ing.” A poignant reminder, espe­cial­ly since she wrote the book, she once revealed, as a deathbed promise to her friend.

The full-col­or illus­trat­ed edi­tion of Just Kids fea­tures nev­er-before pub­lished pho­tos, draw­ings, and oth­er ephemera depict­ing major fig­ures in Smith’s young life, like Sam Shep­ard, William Bur­roughs, and Allen Gins­berg, as well as her and Map­plethor­pe’s first Brook­lyn apart­ment, the icon­ic Max’s Kansas City, and the fire escape of the Chelsea Hotel. Order a copy here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pat­ti Smith’s 40 Favorite Books

Pat­ti Smith, The God­moth­er of Punk, Is Now Putting Her Pic­tures on Insta­gram

Hear a Com­plete Chrono­log­i­cal Discog­ra­phy of Pat­ti Smith’s Fierce­ly Poet­ic Rock and Roll: 13 Hours and 142 Tracks

Pat­ti Smith Reads Oscar Wilde’s 1897 Love Let­ter De Pro­fundis: See the Full Three-Hour Per­for­mance

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Performs Songs from His New Soundtrack for the Horror Film, Suspiria

It’s a strange time to remake a Dario Argen­to movie. The mas­ter of gial­lo (Ital­ian for “yel­low”), the crime, thriller, and hor­ror genre films that flour­ished in the 60s and 70s, took par­tic­u­lar plea­sure in tor­tur­ing his female char­ac­ters, often in scenes involv­ing rape and star­ring his top­less daugh­ter. Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 Sus­piria “opens its eyes in a world where female pow­er has nev­er been stronger or more under attack,” writes Wired’s Angela Water­cut­ter, who advis­es those who haven’t seen the orig­i­nal to save it until they’ve watched the mod­ern homage.

Aim­ing to “de-vic­tim­ize” Argento’s women, the remake takes the orig­i­nal sto­ry of a coven of witch­es oper­at­ing a dance stu­dio in Berlin but empha­sizes its char­ac­ters as fig­ures of mys­te­ri­ous pow­er who are both “fear and revered.” Where Argen­to goes for the max­i­mal amount of luridness—in blaz­ing reds and yel­lows echoed in the first scenes in a neon McDonald’s sign—Guadagnino’s approach “is more mut­ed in both palat­te and tone, opt­ing for insid­i­ous weird­ness over shock and gore,” as David Roony writes at The Hol­ly­wood Reporter.

Con­tribut­ing heav­i­ly to the shift in tone is a score from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke that could “hard­ly be more dis­sim­i­lar to the cacoph­o­nous prog-rock of Gob­lin that was such an essen­tial part of the original’s sen­so­ry assault.” To call the first Sus­piria and its glo­ri­ous score an “assault” is not at all pejo­ra­tive, but a pure­ly accu­rate descrip­tion of their style. But Guadagni­no wise­ly sensed that the grim beau­ty of Yorke’s song­writ­ing would best speak to a con­tem­po­rary ver­sion, so he hound­ed the Radio­head singer until he agreed.

Though he’d nev­er scored a film before, and was inti­mat­ed by the chal­lenge, Yorke found his way in through the script. “There was this melan­choly which I was real­ly sur­prised about. Not like a nor­mal hor­ror film at all,” he says in the BBC inter­view at the top with Mary Anne Hobbs. He calls the film’s mood “a weird form of dark­ness,” which could equal­ly describe the evo­ca­tions of dread under­ly­ing all of his work. The process of scor­ing Sus­piria, he says, was “free­ing… because there’s no sense of my iden­ti­ty on it at all…. I’m who­ev­er he want­ed me to be at the moment, for what­ev­er par­tic­u­lar sec­tion of the film.”

These live per­for­mances for the BBC, espe­cial­ly “Sus­pir­i­um” fur­ther up, might seem to belie that assess­ment. The songs draw deeply from Yorke’s famil­iar well of spare, atmos­pher­ic angst, which is all to the good. They also see him mov­ing in unex­pect­ed direc­tions. “Open Again” builds on a gen­tly fin­ger-picked acoustic gui­tar fig­ure, and “Unmade,” above, almost chan­nels Burt Bacharach’s mood­i­er film pieces, with its lounge‑y piano and yearn­ing vocal melody.

The score became a fam­i­ly project; Yorke’s son played drums on some of the tracks and his daugh­ter helped design the art­work. On a BBC Radio 6 appear­ance, Yorke also played an hour-long mix of his favorite atmos­pher­ic records and debuted a pre­vi­ous­ly unre­leased track called “Sus­piria Solo Glass Har­mon­i­ca.” Lis­ten here and see the new Sus­piria trail­er below.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The 10 Most Depress­ing Radio­head Songs Accord­ing to Data Sci­ence: Hear the Songs That Ranked High­est in a Researcher’s “Gloom Index”

The Secret Rhythm Behind Radiohead’s “Video­tape” Now Final­ly Revealed

Thom Yorke’s Iso­lat­ed Vocal Track on Radiohead’s 1992 Clas­sic, ‘Creep’

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Wagashi: Peruse a Digitized, Centuries-Old Catalogue of Traditional Japanese Candies

If you’ve been to Japan, or even to any of the Japan­ese neigh­bor­hoods in cities around the world, you’ve seen wagashi (和菓子). You’ve prob­a­bly, at least for a moment, mar­veled at their appear­ance as well: though essen­tial­ly noth­ing more than sweet treats, they’re made with such strik­ing vari­ety and refine­ment that you might hes­i­tate to bite into them.

First cre­at­ed in the 16th cen­tu­ry, when trade with Chi­na made sug­ar into a sta­ple in Japan, wagashi have devel­oped into one of the coun­try’s sig­na­ture del­i­ca­cies, appre­ci­at­ed for their taste but beloved for their form. You can browse and down­load a three-vol­ume cat­a­log of wagashi designs, itself cen­turies old, at the web site of Japan’s Nation­al Diet Library: vol­ume one, vol­ume two, vol­ume three.

The site also has a spe­cial sec­tion about wagashi, though in Japan­ese only. The cat­a­log itself, of course, also con­tains text in no oth­er lan­guage, but wagashi isn’t about words.

Even with­out know­ing Japan­ese, you can flip through each vol­ume’s pages (vol­ume one — vol­ume two - vol­ume three) and rec­og­nize the look of dozens of sweets you’ve seen or maybe even sam­pled in real life, where their col­ors may well look even more vivid than on the page.

Like most realms of tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese cul­ture, wagashi demands painstak­ing crafts­man­ship. Often brought out at fes­ti­vals and giv­en as gifts, it also cel­e­brates dif­fer­ent aspects of Japan: its sea­sons, its land­scapes, chap­ters of its his­to­ry, and even its works of lit­er­a­ture. Some wagashi designs do this abstract­ly, while oth­ers lean toward the rep­re­sen­ta­tive, repli­cat­ing real sights and sym­bols in a form both rec­og­niz­able and edi­ble.

Many wagashi, as Boing Boing’s Andrea James writes, “still look the same as they did hun­dreds of years ago when the art form flour­ished in the Edo peri­od” of the 17th and 18th cen­tu­ry. Insta­gram, as she points out, has proven a nat­ur­al online home for not just the kind of tra­di­tion­al wagashi seen in these cat­a­logs but designs that pay trib­ute to fig­ures of more recent vin­tage, such as Rilakku­ma and the aliens from Toy Sto­ry.

And though Hal­loween may not be an orig­i­nal­ly Japan­ese hol­i­day, it has­n’t stopped mod­ern wagashi-mak­ers from bring­ing out the ghosts, skulls, and jack-o-lanterns in force.

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1,000+ His­toric Japan­ese Illus­trat­ed Books Dig­i­tized & Put Online by the Smith­son­ian: From the Edo & Meji Eras (1600–1912)

Down­load Clas­sic Japan­ese Wave and Rip­ple Designs: A Go-to Guide for Japan­ese Artists from 1903

How Japan­ese Things Are Made in 309 Videos: Bam­boo Tea Whisks, Hina Dolls, Steel Balls & More

20 Mes­mer­iz­ing Videos of Japan­ese Arti­sans Cre­at­ing Tra­di­tion­al Hand­i­crafts

Enter a Dig­i­tal Archive of 213,000+ Beau­ti­ful Japan­ese Wood­block Prints

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The World’s Largest Collection of Tibetan Buddhist Literature Now Online

FYI: The Bud­dhist Dig­i­tal Resource Cen­ter (BDRC) and Inter­net Archive (IA) announced ear­li­er this month “that they are mak­ing a large cor­pus of Bud­dhist lit­er­a­ture avail­able via the Inter­net Archive. This col­lec­tion rep­re­sents the most com­plete record of the words of the Bud­dha avail­able in any lan­guage, plus many mil­lions of pages of relat­ed com­men­taries, teach­ings and works such as med­i­cine, his­to­ry, and phi­los­o­phy.” In a press release from the Inter­net Archive, Chokyi Nyi­ma Rin­poche, a respect­ed teacher of Tibetan Bud­dhism, expressed grat­i­tude that the teach­ings of the Bud­dha have been made avail­able online. “We can share the entire body of lit­er­a­ture with every Tibetan who can use it. These texts are sacred, and should be free.” It should be not­ed that the texts aren’t writ­ten in Eng­lish, but rather the authors’ native tongue.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take Harvard’s Intro­duc­to­ry Course on Bud­dhism, One of Five World Reli­gions Class­es Offered Free Online

Free Online Course: Robert Thurman’s Intro­duc­tion to Tibetan Bud­dhism (Record­ed at Colum­bia U)

The Dalai Lama’s Intro­duc­tion to Bud­dhism

Bud­dhism 101: A Short Intro­duc­to­ry Lec­ture by Jorge Luis Borges

Free Online Reli­gion Cours­es 

How Bud­dhism & Neu­ro­science Can Help You Change How Your Mind Works: A New Course by Best­selling Author Robert Wright



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The Evolution of Bob Dylan: Early Recordings Let You Hear an Unknown Singer Turn Into a 60s Superstar (1958–1965)

Approach­ing Bob Dylan’s body of work as a new­com­er can be intim­i­dat­ing. The Nobel Lau­re­ate now gets taught at Har­vard and Prince­ton, com­pared to Vir­gil and Ovid, Yeats and Joyce. Div­ing into Dylan’s own lit­er­ary influ­ences requires a for­mi­da­ble read­ing list. But as Sean Wilentz, con­sum­mate Dylan fan, Prince­ton pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry, and author of Bob Dylan in Amer­i­capoints out, the Dylan lega­cy car­ries so much weight not only because of the singer’s vora­cious read­ing habits, but because he emerged “in a cul­ture in which song­writ­ing has always been a major force” on the cul­ture.

New Dylan fans come to him through his influ­ence on the past 50 years of pop­u­lar music, and under­stand him through the influ­ence of the first 50 years of 20th cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can music on him. He’s cit­ed by such diverse leg­ends as Hen­drix, Bowie, and Boy George—at one time every­one want­ed to be Dylan, or to write like him, at least—but one rea­son so many have imi­tat­ed him is because he acquired his con­sid­er­able depth by imi­tat­ing oth­ers.

Grow­ing up in the bleak sur­round­ings of Hib­bing, Min­neso­ta, “a good place to leave,” he said, Dylan spent his time absorb­ing all he could from the Delta blues, the Carter Fam­i­ly, John­ny Cash, Lit­tle Richard, and Elvis. Like the best of his own imi­ta­tors, Dylan devel­oped the abil­i­ty to trans­mute his influ­ences into some­thing new through close study, crit­i­cal appre­ci­a­tion, and just plain-old goof­ing around.

In his ear­li­est known record­ings, made in 1958 in Hib­bing with his home­town friend John Bucklen, Dylan does a lit­tle bit of all three, but most­ly he sings ram­shackle cov­ers of rhythm and blues songs on an acoustic gui­tar, hon­ing his tal­ent for bar­rel­ing through solo per­for­mances two years before he hit the stages of Green­wich Village’s cof­fee­house folk scene.

The John Bucklen tape opens up a 5‑hour Youtube col­lec­tion fea­tur­ing record­ings from 1958 to 1965, which you can stream above. It’s a set of “almost all the ear­li­est tapes Bob made before sign­ing up with Colum­bia Records,” notes the Youtube uploader. (“Some of the ear­ly stuff is dis­mal at best,” one review­er of the col­lec­tion writes, “but its his­tor­i­cal impor­tance can­not be over­stat­ed.”) From the ’58 home record­ings, over­dubbed with Bucklen’s lat­er com­men­tary, we move to the so-called Min­neso­ta Par­ty Tape, “a 35 minute record­ing in Bob’s apart­ment in Min­neapo­lis” fea­tur­ing his ren­di­tions of some tra­di­tion­al songs like “John­ny I hard­ly Knew You” and “Streets of Glo­ry.”

This tape also shows the pre­dom­i­nat­ing influ­ence of Woody Guthrie on Dylan at the time, the song­writer whom he most mod­eled him­self after in the ear­ly sixties—later writ­ing that he aimed to be “Guthrie’s great­est disciple”—and who pops up again and again in near­ly all of these record­ings after 1960. In Jan­u­ary of 1961, Dylan moved to New York to vis­it Guthrie, then dying of Huntington’s dis­ease, and began pick­ing up Irish folk songs and African Amer­i­can spir­i­tu­als from Dave Van Ronk, Odet­ta, and oth­er down­town folk singers. He inte­grates these styles into his Guthrie imi­ta­tion and picks up bits of Pete Seeger, Hank Williams, Blind Lemon Jef­fer­son, and Jesse Fuller from his cov­ers of their songs.

In tapes from 1962–63, we hear home record­ing ver­sions of well-known orig­i­nals from his first two albums—“A Hard Rain’s A‑Gonna Fall,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”—and hear in them the cumu­la­tive lay­er­ing of influ­ence from Dylan’s years of appren­tice­ship. The entire col­lec­tion, which includes inter­views with Bil­ly James and Steve Allen and per­for­mances on radio and TV, shows Dylan “evolv­ing from a young kid in Min­neso­ta to a super­star in 1965 before going elec­tric… an amaz­ing look at a young Bob Dylan becom­ing a leg­end in front of you.” Key to that evo­lu­tion was his tal­ent for cre­ative imi­ta­tion of tra­di­tion­al Amer­i­can music and its great­est inter­preters.

See the full track­list in the com­ment sec­tion of the video, and note that the third and fourth seg­ments are in the wrong order in the Youtube video above.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Bob Dylan Demos: They Are A‑Streamin’

A Mas­sive 55-Hour Chrono­log­i­cal Playlist of Bob Dylan Songs: Stream 763 Tracks

Hear Bob Dylan’s New­ly-Released Nobel Lec­ture: A Med­i­ta­tion on Music, Lit­er­a­ture & Lyrics

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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