Before he was Bob Dylan, before he was even a serious songwriter, a Minnesota college student named Robert Zimmerman was an aspiring poet musing about cigarettes, motorcycles and lost love.
He wrote “Poems Without Titles” in 1960. It was a 16-page, hand-scrawled collection that features the future voice of a generation trying out his soon-to-be pseudonym. Most of the poems are signed “Dylan” or “Dylanism,” the earliest known use of his nom-de-tune, according to Christie’s auction house.
On Monday, the rare cache of Dylan poems goes on the auction block in Christie’s Rockefeller Center location, with an anticipated value of $60,000 to $80,000. It’s the top item in a rock and pop memorabilia auction that also features a medallion worn by Jimi Hendrix at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, rare lyrics written by Jim Morrison and an assortment of Beatles’ items.
The Dylan poetry shows flashes of the wit and style that eventually made him one of the 20th century’s most indelible songwriters, although nothing approaches such classics as “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “Like a Rolling Stone.”
“I search the depths of my soul for an answer/But there is no answer,” he writes in one poem. “Because there is no question/And there is no time.”
Another poem lists ex-girlfriends named Seela, Ione, Carol and Barbara. The ex who made the most lasting impression was Judy: “But she broke me/Up when she didn’t/Write back and/I died for a year.”
Dylan, who memorably disappeared from the music scene after a mysterious 1966 motorcycle crash, appeared prescient with this verse: “The motorcycle leans/The motorcycle swerves/ ... The motorcycle just don’t/Give a damn/About anything.”
Another Dylan item expected to prompt spirited bidding is a rare 60-minute reel-to-reel recording of the singer doing seven songs on Thanksgiving 1961, including “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down,” “House of the Rising Sun” and “This Land Is Your Land.” The tape was expected to sell for between $40,000 and $60,000.
The other top lots in the auction come from rockers long dead.
A medallion worn by doomed guitarist Jimi Hendrix during his memorable June 18, 1967, performance at Monterey was expected to sell for $60,000 to $80,000. According to Christie’s, Hendrix presented the medallion with its bird motifs to a Brooklyn woman after they met in a discotheque called The Scene about a month after Monterey.
With the 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder approaching, a copy of the Beatles’ “White Album” signed by the late singer/songwriter and wife Yoko Ono was expected to sell for more than $8,000.
The couple signed the album during their 1969 “Bed-In for Peace” in Montreal. Lennon was shot to death on Dec. 8, 1980.
Another big-ticket lot are lyrics written by Doors’ lead singer Jim Morrison for the song “Not to Touch the Earth,” from the 1968 album “Waiting for the Sun.” The lyrics were written on both sides of Doors’ stationery, and were expected to sell for up to $60,000.
Morrison died in 1971.