In our autumn issue, we introduced you to Hibbing collector Bill Pagel, who has amassed an incredible collection of Bob Dylan memorabilia, including several manuscripts from the music icon. Here, Pagel shares some of the most notable pieces from his collection, along with his commentary. (To reach Pagel regarding items for his consideration for his collection, email him.)

bob dylan ballad of donald white original lyrics

Photography by Wolfskull Creative

“Ballad of Donald White”

“Bob Dylan wrote this song at his Fourth Street apartment in New York City in February 1962 after watching a television program called A Volcano Named White. A short time later, at the apartment of his friends, Eve and Mac McKenzie, Dylan wrote some of the first verses of the song on the fly page and signed his name on the inside front cover on the checkout label in this 1906 library book, Tales of a Wayside Inn by Longfellow.”

“This Land Is Your Land”

“This manuscript contains the last verse to Woody Guthrie’s song ‘This Land is Your Land.’ This paper, signed by Dylan, contains the words to an obscure verse that did not appear in the original manuscript when Guthrie wrote the song in 1940. Later, he wrote this additional verse, which appeared in his 1946 mimeographed booklet, Ten Songs for Two Bits. Dylan sang this song at a Thanksgiving party at the apartment of Eve and Mac McKenzie in New York City on November 25, 1961, with this additional verse included. The McKenzies and the other folksingers were unfamiliar with the verse, and Eve asked Dylan to write out the words. This is the paper on which he wrote that verse, along with several doodles.”

bob dylan let me die in my footsteps original lyrics

“Let Me Die In My Footsteps”

“‘Let Me Die In My Footsteps’ was written in March 1962. In an interview with music critic Nat Hentoff, Dylan said the inspiration for this song came from seeing a fallout shelter being built while passing through a town several years earlier during the height of the Cold War. The song was scheduled to appear on his second studio album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, but it was pulled, along with three other songs, shortly before the album’s release in March 1963. A few copies of the album containing the four recalled songs were released and are among the rarest and most valuable vinyl LPs, selling for as much as $35,000.”

bob dylan just like tom thumb's blues original lyrics

“Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”

“Bob Dylan wrote this song in 1965, and it appeared on his Highway 61 Revisited album, which was released in August 1965. The song contains a literary reference to Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ with Dylan’s misspelling of the word ‘morgue’ in the line ‘On Rue Mourge Avenue’ in this handwritten manuscript. Notice his whimsical reference to Tom Thumb in the margin: ‘Tom Thumb, he’s as big as a crumb.’”