Bob Dylan’s life is short on concrete facts and figures, very much by design, but the experts seem to agree on this one: The man born Robert Zimmerman arrived in NYC on January 24, 1961, exactly a half-century ago. He immediately started showing up at the Village’s Cafe Wha? (that’s him on the left with Karen Dalton and Fred Neil, in a pic dated just a few weeks later, February 6) and lying about having arrived in town via freight train. As he explains in his memoir, Chronicles: Volume One:
When I arrived, it was dead-on winter. The cold was brutal and every artery of the city was snowpacked, but I’d started out from the frostbitten North Country, a little corner of the earth where the dark frozen woods and icy roads didn’t faze me. I could transcend the limitations. It wasn’t money or love that I was looking for. I had a heightened sense of awareness, was set in my ways, impractical and a visionary to boot. My mind was strong like a trap and I didn’t need any guarantee of validity. I didn’t know a single soul in this dark freezing metropolis but that was all about to change — and quick.
To celebrate, this week SOTC is offering a mess of Dylan-centric content: a multi-suite video tour of Bob Dylan’s Greenwich Village (which has changed ever so slightly in the past 50 years), old Dylan pieces from the Voice archives, essays from a few different Dylan scholars and high-profile admirers, and a compilation of various artists’ favorite Dylan songs. All in honor of a guy who didn’t waste any time once he’d landed here — via ’57 Impala, not freight train, but no man on earth is more deserving of a little poetic license. For a mere $2 back then, you could’ve seen it for yourself. We hope you enjoy.
The Sex Shop Near Where Bob Dylan Lived
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 24, 2011