The Dylan Tapes

Friends, Players, and Lovers Talkin’ Early Bob Dylan

2021
Author:

Anthony Scaduto
Edited by Stephanie Trudeau

The raw material and interviews behind Anthony Scaduto’s iconic biography of Bob Dylan draw an intimate and multifaceted portrait of the singer-songwriter who defined his era

The Dylan Tapes, compiled from thirty-six hours of interviews, is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Anthony Scaduto’s landmark 1971 biography of Bob Dylan. These reel-to-reel tapes, found in a box in Scaduto’s basement, are a never-bootlegged trove of archival material about Dylan, drawn from conversations with those closest to him during the early years of his career.

When Anthony Scaduto’s Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography was first published in 1971, the Nobel Prize–winning songwriter, at thirty, had already released some of the most iconic albums of the 1960s, including Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. Scaduto’s book was one of the first to take an investigative journalist’s approach to its subject and set the standard for rock music biography. The Dylan Tapes, compiled from thirty-six hours of interviews, is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Scaduto’s landmark book—and a close-up encounter with pivotal figures in Dylan’s life. These reel-to-reel tapes, found in a box in Scaduto’s basement, are a never-bootlegged trove of archival material about Dylan, drawn from conversations with those closest to him during the early years of his career.

In the era of ten-second takes, these interviews offer uncommon depth and immediacy as we listen to friends and lovers recall the Dylan they knew as he created his professional persona and perfected his craft—from folk music, protest songs, and electric rock through the traumatic impact of a motorcycle crash to his later, more self-reflecting songwriting. Echo Helstrom, Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country,” is here, as are Suze Rotolo, who graced the cover of the Freewheelin’ album, and Joan Baez, remembering her relationship “to Bobby.” We hear from Mike Porco, who gave Dylan his first gig in New York City; Sid and Bob Gleason, who introduced him to his hero Woody Guthrie; folk artists from Greenwich Village, like Phil Ochs and Ramblin’ Jack Eliot; John Hammond Sr., who gave him his first record contract; plus a host of musicians, activists, folk historians, and archivists—and, of course, Dylan himself.

From these reflections and frank conversations, many published here for the first time, a complex, finely observed picture emerges of one of the best known yet most enigmatic musicians of our time.

Anthony Scaduto (1932–2017) was a journalist and biographer of rock musicians who also wrote under the name Tony Sciacca. Along with his landmark Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography, he wrote biographies of Mick Jagger, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and John F. Kennedy, as well as Scapegoat, an investigation into the trial of Richard Hauptmann and his execution for the kidnapping and death of Charles Lindbergh’s son in which he uncovered evidence that strongly suggested Hauptmann’s innocence.



A celebrated actress, singer, and writer, Stephanie Trudeau met Anthony Scaduto in 1972 and was his wife and research assistant from 1978 until his death.

Contents


Introduction: Anthony Scaduto’s Basement Tapes


Stephanie Trudeau


Girl from the North Country


Echo Helstrom


Martha Helstrom


Free Wheelin’ Dinkytown


Gretel Hoffman


David Whitaker


Spider John Koerner


Blowin’ in the Wind


Mike Porco


Dave Van Ronk


Terri Thal


Hey, Hey Woody Guthrie


Sid and Bob Gleason


Mr. Tambourine Man


The Clancy Brothers (Pat and Tom Clancy)


Phil Ochs


Ramblin’ Jack Elliott


Boots of Spanish Leather


Suze Rotolo


Carla Rotolo


Peter Karmen


Positively 4th Street


Eve, Mac, and Peter McKenzie


Miki Isaakson


John Hammond, Sr.


Bringing It All Back Home


Carolyn Hester


Eric Von Schmidt and Barry Kornfeld


Like a Rolling Stone


Izzy Young


Carl Ogelsby


Visions of Johanna


Joan Baez


Another Side of Bob Dylan


Bob Dylan


Afterword: New Morning


Stephanie Trudeau


Acknowledgments