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Early-January of 1964, at which point his third studio album was soon-to-be released, 22-year-old Bob Dylan wrote the following letter to Sis Cunningham and Gordon Friesen — both founding editors of Broadside, a highly influential underground magazine of the period — and spoke of, amongst other things, his recent rise to fame, the money and guilt that came with it, and his love for Suze Rotolo. The letter was published in the magazine’s next issue.

Below is an image of its first page, followed by a full transcript; the original signed letter can be seen its entirety, here.

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Transcript

A LETTER FROM BOB DYLAN

for sis and gordon an all broads of good sizes 

let me begin by not beginnin 
let me start not by startin but by continuin 
it sometimes gets so hard for me — 
I am now famous 
I am now famous by the rules of public famiousity 
it snuck up on me 
an pulverized me… 
I never knew what was happenin 
it is hard for me t walk down the same streets 
I did before the same way because now 
I truly don’t know 
who is waitin for my autograph… 
I don’t know if I like givin my autograph 
oh yes sometimes I do… 
but other times the back of my mind tells me 
it is not honest… for I am just fulfillin 
a myth t somebody who’d actually treasure my 
handwritin more’n his own handwritin… 
this gets very complicated for me 
an proves t me that I am livin in a contradiction… 
t quote mr froyd 
I get quite paranoyd 
an I know this isn’t right 
it is not a useful healthy attitude for one t have 
but I truly believe that everybody has their fears 
everybody yes everybody… 
I do not think it good anymore t overlook them 
I think they ought t be admitted… 
an I think that all fellings should be admitted… 
people ask why do I write the way I do 
how foolish 
how monsterish 
a question like that hits me… 
it makes me think that I’m doin nothin 
it makes me think that I’m not being heard 
yes above all the mumble jumble an rave praises 
an all the records I’ve sold… thru all the packed 
houses I play… thru all the communication systems 
an rants an bellows an yellin an clappin comes 
a statement like “why do you do what you do” 
what is this? 
some kind of constipated idiot world? 
some kind of horseshoe game we’re all playin 
responding only when a ringer clangs 
no no no 
not my world 
everybody plays in my world 
ain’t nobody first second third or fourth 
everybody shoots at the same time 
an ringers don’t count 
an everybody wins 
an nobody loses 
cause everybody lives an breathes 
an takes up space 
an cant be overlooked 
an I am a people too 
I cannot pretend I’m not 
an I feel guilty 
god how can I help not feel guilty 
I walk down on the bowery and give money away 
an still I feel guilty for I know I do not 
have enuff money t give away… 
an people say “think a yourself, dylan, you’re 
gonna need it someday” and I say yeah yeah 
an I think maybe about it for a split second 
but then the floods of vomit guilt swoop my 
drunken head an I spread forth more gut torn 
bloody money from the depths of my forsaken 
pockets… an I whisper “ah it’s so useless” 
man so many people need so many things 
an what am I anyway? some kind a messiah walkin 
around…? 
hell no I’m not 
an I ask why dont other people with things give 
some of it away 
an I know the answer without lookin 
security security security… 
everybody wants security 
they want t be secure 
they want t be protected 
an I say protected? 
protected aginst what? 
protected against starvin I guess 
an power too 
an protected against the forces that they know will 
get them if they lose their money. 
an why does it have t be like that? 
man why are these walls built? 
who is this god that is so feared? 
certainly not in my life this isnt 
yes I have my fears but mine are the fears of 
the mind. the fears of the head 
a lonely person with money is still a lonely person 
I have never had much money before 
an so it is easy for me I guess t spend it 
an overlook it 
but I’m sure that many other people could overlook 
some of theirs too 
I’m not speakin now of the century ridin millionares 
but rather of “get theirs and get out” people 
I dont understand them 
I dont understand them at all 
there’s many things I admit I dont understand 
I dont understand the blacklist 
I dont understand how people aginst it go along
with it 
I’m talkin about the full thing 
not just a few of us refusin t be on the show 
I’m talkin about the poeple that stand up 
against it violently an then in some way have something t do with it… 
not just the singers mind you 
but the managers an agents an buyers an sellers… 
they are the dishonest ones 
for they are never seen 
they play both sides against each other 
an expect t be repected by everybody 

the heroes of this battle are not me an Joan 
an the Kingston Trio nor Peter Paul an Mary 
for none of us need t go on that show 
none of us really need that kind of dumbness 
but there’s some that could use it 
for they could use the money 
I mean people like Tom Paxton, Barbara Dane, 
an Johnny Herald… they are the heroes if 
such a word has t be used here 
they are the ones that lose materialistically 
ah yes but in their own minds they dont 
an that is much more important 
it means much more 
we need more kind a people like that 
poeple that cant go against their conscience 
no matter what they might gain 
an I’ve come to think that that might be the most 
important thing in the whole wide world… 
not going against your conscience 
nor your own natural senses 
for I think that that is all the truth there 
is… an no more 
thru all the gossip, lies, religions, cults 
myths, gods, history books, social books, 
all books, politics, decrees, rules, laws, 
boundarie lines, bibles, legends, an bathroom 
writings, there is no guidance at all except 
from ones own natural senses 
from being born 
an it can only be exchanged 
it cant be preached 
nor sold 
nor even understood… 

my mind sometimes runs like a roll of toilet paper 
an I hate like hell t see it unravel an unwind 
at my empty walls 
I’m movin out a here soon 
yes the landlord has beaten me it hurts t tell you. 
this place I am typin in is so filthy 
my clothes cover the floor an once in a while 
I pick up somethin an use it for a blanket… 
the damn heat goes off at ten 
an dont come on til ten… 
that’s mornin wise 
gushes of warm smelly heat always wake me up 
when I sleep here 
the plaster falls constantly 
an the floor is tiltin an rottin 
but somehow there is a beauty to it 
columbia records gave me a record player 
of the goodness of some keeps on amazin me 
an sometimes I play it. 
gettin back t the landlord tho 
he is really too much 
he owns I guess three buildings 
I pay him way too high 
an I’m gettin screwed an I know it 
an he knows it 
but I just dont have the time t go down t the 
rent control board. I been told they’d get after 
him but I’m so lazy. when sue was here he was 
gonna jack up the price cause he said I never told 
him I had a wife. you really got t see this place 
t believe it. I ought a’ve jacked him up a long 
time ago an used him for heat. last year he put 
in a new window (there was a god damn hole in the 
other one) man it was like I asked ‘m for his blood relation 
or something. (which he’d probably give away) 
anyway the record player’s on now 
an I’m listenin t Pete sing Guantanamera for 
the billionth time. I dont have many folk music 
records (I dont have many records really) but 
I do have that one of Pete’s. 
god it’s like I go in a trance 
he is so human I could cry 
he tells me so much 
he makes me feel so good 
it’s as tho of all the things that’re sold t make 
one feel better, aint none of it worth while. 
all the cars, an clothes, an trinkets an foods, 
an jewels an diamonds an lollypops an gifts of 
glad tidings, just dont do nothin for the soul. 
I believe I’d rather listen t Pete sing Guantanamera than t 
own everything there is t own… 
(that’s my own private selfishness shinin thru there) 
yes for me he is truly a saint 
an I love him 
perhaps more than I could show 
(as always is the case ha) 

I think of love in weird terms. 
sometimes I even feel guilty about it 
because I know I love sue 
but I should love everybody like I love sue 
an in all honesty I dont 
I just love her that way 
an I say what way? 
an a voice says “that way” 
an I get quite up tite 
an I know I have a long way t go 
when the day comes when I can love everything 
that breathes the way I love sue then 
I will truly be a Jesus Christ ha ha 
(but I dont wanna be a Jesus Christ ha ha) 
an so I am again contradictin myself 
away away be gone all you demons 
an just let me be me 
human me 
ruthless me 
wild me 
gentle me 
all kinds of me 

saw the last issue of broadside 
an especially flipped out over 
“talkin Merry Christmas” 
I have never met Paul Wolfe but I’d like to 
he has an uncanny sense of touch 
as for Phil, I just cant keep up with him 
an he’s gettin better an better an better 
(spoke with someone who was with him in Hazzard 
named Hamish Sinclair.. an englishman 
of high virtues an common tongue) 
I want t get over an see Phil’s baby 
I’m told the girl came out yellin about 
the bomb. good girl 

my novel is going noplace 
absolutely noplace 
like it dont even tell a story 
it’s about a million scenes long 
an takes place on a billion scraps 
of paper… certainly I cant make nothin out of 
it. 
(oh I forgot. 
hallelullah t you for puttin Brecht in your 
same last issue. he should be as widely known as 
Woody an should be as widely read as Mickey Spalline 
an as widely listened to as Eisenhower.) 

anyway I’m writin a play out of this here so called 
novel (navel would be better I guess) 
an I’m up to my belly button in it. 
quite involved yes 
I’ve discovered what the power of playwriting means 
as opposed t song writing means 
altho both are equal, I’m wrapped in playwriting 
for the minute, my songs tell only about me an how 
I feel but in the play all the characters tell how 
they feel. I realize that his might be more confusin 
for some but in the total reality of things it might 
be much better for some too. I think at best you could 
say that the characters will tell in an hour 
what would take me, alone, two weeks t sing about 

I shall get up t see you one of these days 
just cause I haven’t in a while please dont think 
I’m not with you. I am with you more’n ever. 
yours perhaps is the only paper that I am on the 
side of every single song you print 
an I am with with with you 

my nite is closin again now 
an I shall drift off in dreams 
an climb velvet carpets up t the stars 
with newsweek magazines burnin an disappointin 
people smoulderin and disgustin tongues blazin 
an jealous mongrel dogs walkin on hot coals 
before my smilin unharmful eyes 
(oh such nitemares) 

an I shall wake in the mornin an try t start 
lovin again 

I got a letter from Pete an he closed by sayin 
“take it easy but take it” I thought about that 
for an hour or more when I reached my conclusion 
of what it really meant I either cried or laughed 
(I cant remember which) I will repeat the same an 
add “give it easy but give it” an I’ll think about 
that for an hour an at the end either cry or laugh 
(I’ll write you another letter an tell you which
one it is) 

all right then 
faretheewell 
shaloom an vamoose 
I’m off agian 
off t the hazzards an lost angels an minneapoilcemen 
an boss towns an burnin hams an everything else 
combined an combustioned for me… 
tryin t remain sane at all times 

love t agnes 
she is one of the true talents of the universe 
I’ve always thought that an would like t see her 
again some time 

love t everybody in your house 

see yuh 

softly an sleepy 
but ready an waitin 

Bob Dylan

 
 
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On May 1st of 2003, just weeks after being deployed to Iraq, Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens, of Springfield, Missouri was killed when his tank fell into the Euphrates river. He was 34-years-old. Shortly after his death, the following farewell letter was delivered to his bereaved wife, Melissa, and his 6-year-old stepson, Dakota (“Toad”).

Melissa and Jesse’s unborn child, Carson (“Bean”), entered the world on the 29th of May, a few weeks after his father’s death.

Transcript follows.

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Transcript

Melissa,

Please only read if I don’t come home. Please put it away and hopefully you will never have to read it.

—————-

22-April-03

My family:

I never thought I would be writing a letter like this, I really don’t know where to start. I’ve been getting bad feelings though and well if you are reading this….

I am forever in debt to you, Dakota, and the Bean. I searched all my life for a dream and I found it in you. I would like to think that I made a positive difference in your lives. I will never be able to make up for the bad. I am so sorry. The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. I will always have with me the small moments we all shared. The moments when you quit taking life so serious and smiled. The sounds of a beautiful boy’s laughter or the simple nudge of a baby unborn. You will never know how complete you have made me. Each one of you. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never dreamed existed. I am proud of you. Stay on the path you chose. Never lose sight of what is important again, you and our babies.

Dakota, you are more son than I could ever ask for. I can only hope I was half the dad. I used to be your “danny” but no matter what, it makes me proud that you chose me. You taught me how to care until it hurts, you taught me how to smile again. You taught me that life isn’t so serious and sometimes you have to play. You have a big, beautiful heart. Through life you need to keep it open and follow it. Never be afraid to be yourself. I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can still play. I hope someday you will have a son like mine. Make them smile and shine just like you. I love you Toad. I hope someday you will understand why I didn’t come home. Please be proud of me. Please don’t stop loving life. Take in every breath like it’s your first. I love you Toad. I will always be there with you. I’ll be in the sun, shadows, dreams, and joys of your life.

Bean, I never got to see you but I know in my heart you are beautiful. I know you will be strong and big-hearted just like your mom and brother. I will always have with me the feel of the soft nudges on your mom’s belly, and the joy I felt when we found out you were on your way. I dream of you every night, I will always. Don’t ever think that since I wasn’t around that I didn’t love you. You were conceived of love and I came to this terrible place for love. I love you as I do your mom and brother with all my heart and soul. Please understand that I had to be gone so that I could take care of my family. I love you Bean.

I have never been so blessed as the day I met Melissa Dawn Benfield. You are my angel, soulmate, wife, lover, and best friend. I am so sorry. I did not want to have to write this letter. There is so much more I need to say, so much more I need to share. A lifetime’s worth. I married you for a million lifetimes. That’s how long I will be with you. Please keep our babies safe. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. Take care of yourself, believe in yourself, you are a strong, big hearted woman. Teach our babies to live life to its fullest, tell yourself to do the same. Don’t forget to take Toad to Disney World. I will be there with you. Melissa, I will always want you need you and love you in my heart, mind, and soul. Do me one favor, after you tuck Toad and Bean in, give them hugs and kisses from me. Go outside, look at the stars and count them. Don’t forget to smile.

Love Always
Your husband
Jess

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On March 1st of 1968, Johnny Cash married June Carter. They remained together until her death 35 years later. Below are two notes, both written by Cash — the first to June in 1994 on the occasion of her 65th birthday, and the second shortly after her death in 2003.

Johnny Cash passed away two months later, four months after his wife.

Transcripts follow.

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Transcript

June 23 1994

Odense, Denmark.

Happy Birthday Princess,

We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each others minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted. 

But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.

Happy Birthday Princess.

John

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Transcript

July 11 2003
Noon

I love June Carter, I do. Yes I do. I love June Carter I do. And she loves me. 

But now she’s an angel and I’m not. Now she’s an angel and I’m not.

 
 

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In January of 1943, 15-year-old Sidney Poitier left his poverty-stricken family in Nassau and headed for the United States, the “land of opportunity,” in search of a better life for himself and, ultimately, his loved ones. Months of low-paying jobs in Miami followed, and then countless nights sleeping rough as he slowly made his way to Harlem. Once there, still only 16 and unable to find a job to keep him afloat, he lied about his age and joined the U. S. Army, from which he was discharged after a year. Very quickly his money was gone and he was ready to give up. Desperate to return home but unable to scrape together enough money with which to buy a ticket, he wrote the following letter to President Roosevelt and asked for a loan.

Thankfully for Poitier, no reply came; he soon joined the American Negro Theater and slowly made an impression as an actor. In 1963, 18 years after writing to President Roosevelt, Sidney Poitier became the first black person to win a Best Actor Oscar, for his role as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field.

Dear President Roosevelt,

My name is Sidney Poitier and I am here in the United States in New York City. I am from the Bahamas. I would like to go back to the Bahamas but I don’t have the money. I would like to borrow from you $100. I will send it back to you when I get to the Bahamas. I miss my mother and father and I miss my brothers and sisters and I miss my home in the Caribbean. I cannot seem to get myself organized properly here in America, especially in the cold weather, and I am therefore asking you as an American citizen if you will loan me $100 to get back home. I will send it back to you and I would certainly appreciate it very much.

Your fellow American, 

Sidney Poitier

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I like words.

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When copywriter Robert Pirosh landed in Hollywood in 1934, eager to become a screenwriter, he wrote and sent the following letter to all the directors, producers, and studio executives he could think of. The approach worked, and after securing three interviews he took a job as a junior writer with MGM.

Pirosh went on to write for the Marx Brothers, and in 1949 won an Academy Award for his Battleground script.

Dear Sir:

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.

I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around. 

I have just returned and I still like words. 

May I have a few with you?

Robert Pirosh
385 Madison Avenue
Room 610
New York
Eldorado 5-6024

 

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I finally finished reading Tiger Lily.

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win. In some places, there is something ultimately good about endings. In Neverland, that is not the case…” -Tinker Bell

I grew up loving Disney’s version of Peter Pan, wishing I could move to Neverland and never grow old. But this book only makes me love it infinitely MORE! 

This book is told, not from Tiger Lily’s point of view, but Tinker Bell’s which is actually SO brilliant! Not only is the empathic little faerie able to know Tiger Lily’s thoughts, but she gets a glimpse into other people’s too. We get to share Tinker Bell’s admiration for Tiger Lily’s undeniable courage. And we also get to know her motives, the reasons for little Tink’s actions and jealousy, and suddenly everything makes so much more sense. 

Going into this book, I didn’t care much for Tiger Lily. I knew her as the girl who loved Peter and nothing more. But Jodi Lynn Anderson made me care and ache and want to know more about this crow-feathered girl! By the end, I wanted to cry when it was over. I did cry — so much! As much as I love Wendy, part of me wished she wouldn’t show up so Peter and Tiger Lily could get a HEA. But my powers of compulsion can only go so far. :’)

Behind the scenes, Tiger Lily has a horrible life. She’s arranged to marry the awful Giant and everyone is scared of her. That’s why she craves those nightly escapades with Peter, who is wonderful and sweet in every way. With him, there’s adventure and life and promise. He’s so different from the boy I thought I knew — Less innocent? More fierce? — but this side of him is just as beautiful. ♥ 

My only complaint is that this book starts off slow and carries a similar pace throughout. Until Tiger Lily meets Peter, I was never completely pulled under and even then some parts felt dragged on. But the ending, the beauty, and the heartache makes up for it!

Tiger Lily is raw and beautiful and heartbreaking and sad. It took my heart, squeezed it into a tiny little ball, then let it fly. Because if you’ve seen Peter’s story, then you know how Tiger Lily’s end — and it doesn’t end well. But I promise that her story is well worth the read! 

BUY or BORROW?: If you want to pledge your love to Peter Pan or are even just a little bit curious about the girl with the crow feather in her hair, then you have to buy this book! 

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