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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.