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

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