Saturday, January 21, 2006

Forever Young: Photographs of Bob Dylan by Douglas R. Gilbert

It was 1964. Douglas R. Gilbert had just graduated from Michigan State University and started working for Look, a very popular magazine that featured photographic essays on current events and society, when he pitched the idea of photographing Bob Dylan. Dylan had several albums out, but was not really well-known by the general public. Columbia Records was releasing another album soon and approved the idea. Dylan was receptive, so Gilbert spent nine or ten days shadowing the singer/songwriter in and around Woodstock (before it was famous), New York City, and Newport, Rhode Island, site of an annual folk festival. The result was many photographs of Dylan at writing, performing with Joan Baez, and socializing with friends, like John Sebastian and Allen Ginsberg. (I did not recognize Sebastian without his glasses and with shorter hair.)

Look never ran the photos. Gilbert was told that Dylan looked too scruffy. He also heard later that the advertising department wanted the essay canned. Looking at the photos now, Dylan looks relatively fresh-faced and at times almost sweet. I would think the tobacco advertisers would have liked the photos, many of which show him smoking. Gilbert kept the photos safe until 2004, when he learned that he owned their copyright.

2005 was a great time to publish Forever Young: Photographs of Bob Dylan , as it is a good companion piece to the film No Direction Home by Martin Scorsese. Along with photos is a text by long time rock music critic Dave Marsh that tells about Dylan's early years and Gilbert's photographic efforts. Forever Young takes only an hour or two to read. I recommend it to music fans.

Gilbert, Douglas R. Forever Young: Photographs of Bob Dylan. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0306814811


laura said...

The Open WorldCat link for Forever Young isn't working, though they did give me a nice message saying that I ought to contact the webmaster of the linking site. So I am. :-)

ricklibrarian said...

Thanks, Laura. I must not have double-checked that one. Rick