In long-lost interviews, Bob Dylan speaks candidly about anti-Semitic prejudice and reveals he wrote the hit song "Lay Lady Lay" for Barbra Streisand to sing.
The remarks are contained in typed transcripts of 1971 conversations between Dylan and his friend Tony Glover, a blues musician who died last year. The transcripts, featuring Dylan's handwritten annotations, are going up for auction in Boston, along with other memorabilia from Glover's archives.
Glover's widow, Cynthia Nadler, put the materials up for sale, with online bidding to begin Nov. 12 and end Nov. 19, according to Bobby Livingston, the auction house's executive vice president.
Dylan, 79, was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, and grew up in the area's Jewish community. In the transcript of a wide-ranging conversation with Glover dated March 22, 1971, Dylan playfully reflected on his decision to adopt a new name.
"I mean, it wouldn't've worked if I'd changed the name to Bob Levy. Or Bob Neuwirth. Or Bob Doughnut," Dylan is quoted as telling Glover.
Glover asked Dylan if he changed his name because of a "prejudice thing," to which the folk icon replied: "No, I wouldn't think so." But in handwritten annotations scrawled in blue ink, Dylan elaborated on anti-Semitic prejudice and his own Jewish identity.
"A lot of people are under the impression that Jews are just money lenders and merchants. A lot of people think that all Jews are like that," Dylan wrote. "Well, they used to be 'cause that's all that was open to them. That's all they were allowed to do."
In a separate transcript of an interview dated March 24, 1971, Glover asked Dylan about the songs "Father of Night," featured on the album "New Morning" (1970), and "Lay Lady Lay," the popular single from his album "Nashville Skyline" (1969).
Glover repeated conventional wisdom that "Lay Lady Lay" was originally written for the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning drama "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), but Dylan interrupted him to reveal the true origins of the song.
"Actually, it was written for Barbra Streisand," Dylan is quoted as saying.
In context, Dylan appears to be saying that he wrote "Lay Lady Lay" as a tune for Streisand to sing — not necessarily as an homage to her. Dylan, a famously enigmatic artist who guards his privacy, did not provide any additional information about his relationship with Streisand.
In a statement to NBC News on Wednesday, Streisand said: "I'm very flattered to find out that Bob Dylan wrote 'Lay Lady Lay' for me. What I remember is getting flowers from him with a handwritten note asking me to sing a duet with him, but I just couldn't imagine it then. Guess what, Bob, I can imagine doing it now!"
The interviews were part of an article Glover was writing for Esquire magazine. But the magazine declined to run the article, and Dylan eventually lost interest in the project, according to Livingston, the auction house executive.
In the interviews, which were recorded on audio cassettes, Dylan also muses about movies, drugs, Johnny Cash, the Apollo 11 moon landing and going electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.