Bob Dylan
(Gabe Crawford)

It’s the duty of musicians and singers to archive the sentiments of their times. Essentially, a musician is a historian, and there has never been a better curator than Bob Dylan. Dylan’s 55-year career reflects what the world was going through as the 20th century became the 21st. Along the way, Dylan turned over every stone in his wide array of work.

And the annotations of that history and his genius are going to be housed in Tulsa.

The University of Tulsa, in conjunction with the George Kaiser Foundation, is acquiring artifacts from Dylan’s vast repertoire. Estimated by The New York Times to be worth between $15 million and $20 million, the Bob Dylan Archives will inhabit TU’s Helmerich Center for American Research on the grounds of the Gilcrease Museum.

The archives include hundreds of live recordings, handwritten lyrics and other relics, such as the original leather jacket Dylan wore at the Newport Music Festival when he went electric:

No place like home

There isn’t a better home for the Bob Dylan Archives than the red dirt of Oklahoma. Before there was an archive, Dylan’s career connected to Oklahoma through the inspiration of Oklahoma native and folk legend, Woody Guthrie. On his first album, Dylan wrote Song to Woody, a tribute to Guthrie. At the beginning of his career, he traveled the states, claiming to follow Guthrie’s footsteps, imitating both his Oklahoma twang and echoing the main protagonist in Guthrie’s book, Bound for Glory. It’s easy to assume that Guthrie was the spark that started the fire of Dylan’s career.

Keeps on giving

By the time Oklahomans see the effects of acquiring this collection, there will be more additions. Dylan still writes and tours to this day. There could potentially be hundreds or thousands of new additions to the collection in the future. Oklahomans should be proud that this collection has found its home in the heartland. The glory of this collection is that its additions will always consist of discoveries.

Kind of like a rolling stone.


Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon

Tribute show highlights Woody Guthrie’s lasting legacy by Danny Marroquin