Still Time to See Dylan Exhibit at American Writer’s Museum in Chicago

Ed Newman

Plus Bill Pagel’s Favorite Joke

This past month I’ve been planning a road trip which was to include a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame while traveling East to see family and friends. Only recently did I learn that a portion (maybe all) of the Dylan material in Cleveland had been donated to the current Dylan-themed exhibition at the American Writers Museum.

According to Jessi Roti in her November Chicago Tribune story, the exhibit was assembled from portions of 11 sources including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Sony Music Entertainment Archives, Woody Guthrie Center, Pennebaker Hegedus Films and Arthouse18 and contributions from three private collections — Mitch Blank, Barry Ollman and Bill Pagel.

Bill Pagel, of course, is the Northlander who owns the house Robert Zimmerman first lived in here in Duluth’s Central Hillside before moving to Hibbing with his family at age 6. The last several years, and this year again, a portion of Bill’s archives have been put on display at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum here in Duluth during Duluth’s Dylan Fest.

In fact, the original hand-written lyrics to “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues “— which you can see on this page of the American Writers Museum websitehas been previously displayed here in Duluth, along with a host of other rare items from the Bill Pagel Archive.

Bill Pagel (L) looks on as Gene LaFond, Amy Grillo examine rare memorabilia.

The title of the Karpeles exhibit in years past has been Einstein Disguised As Robin Hood, taken from a line in Dylan’s “Desolation Row.” At the opening reception for the 2016 exhibit, which included the original hand-written lyrics to Desolation Row, I overheard someone remark that it was wrong to compare Dylan to Einstein. I turned and informed them of where the title came from, adding that comparing Bob to Shakespeare might be more apt. Upon reflection, however, I’ve now had second thoughts. Perhaps Einstein Disguised As Robin Hood really is the best description of the bard: Genius disguised as a Thief. What do you think?


Bill Pagel himself has an distinctive sense of humor. When asked how he got into collecting Dylan memorabilia, he replied, “I flipped a coin to decide who I was going to collect. Heads was Bob, tails Wayne Newton.” He was amused to see this anecdote included in the Chicago Tribune story.


Here’s the story as found in the Tribune.

Bill Pagel will again be sharing a portion of his archives during Duluth Dylan Fest again this year in May. Here’s a tentative Duluth Dylan Fest Schedule for 2019 if you wish to celebrate with us.

Meantime, life goes on all around us. Get into it.

Ed Newman

Written by

Ed Newman

Retired ad man, I’m an avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 https://pioneerproductions.blogspot.com/

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