When Bob Dylan arrived in New York, he wasn’t a folk music icon. He wasn’t providing the soundtrack of a revolution, or shaping the culture of America’s youth. Not yet, anyway. He was a young man from Minnesota, struggling to make it as an artist in the only town he thought he could.
In the new book, Bob Dylan: NYC 1961-1964, photographer Ted Russell reveals in stunning black and white those first seminal years the musician spent in the city. Russell first became aware of the singer via a positive New York Times review, and quickly was snapping candid shots in Dylan’s Greenwich Village apartment and up on the stage. What those photographs portray is an enormously talented young man on the brink of fully realizing his full potential, and an incredibly promising songwriter on the cusp—almost there, but not just yet—of actually transforming a nation through song. At just twenty years of age, Dylan was barely an adult, let alone a legend. But he was well on his way, and that, as much as anything else, is the undeniable appeal of the book. To see Dylan still taking shape, oblivious to the greatness that was only a few more strums of the guitar strings away, makes the collection that much more endearing.
Bob Dylan: NYC 1961-1964
published by Rizzoli, is currently available from STAG Provisions