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Bob Dylan’s Purloined Poem

Stop The Presses!

Yesterday, it was announced that Christie's auction house was getting ready to put up for bid a recently unearthed two-page poem penned in the 1950s by teenager Bobby Zimmerman--aka future music icon Bob Dylan. Contributed for publication in a summer camp newspaper that young Zimmy was attending back in 1957, the handwritten poem, entitled "Little Buddy," had been kept for over 50 years by Herzl Herald editor Lisa Heilicher, who decided to finally sell her prized piece of memorabilia to help support a new multi-million dollar building campaign at Camp Herzl in Webster, Wisconsin.

The manuscript of the poem, a tearjerker that tells the story of a dog beaten to death by a drunkard simply for barking, and the boy mourning his departed "little buddy." The poem, featuring lines like "I'll meet my precious buddy up in the sky/ By a tiny narrow grave/ Where the willows sadly wave," was lauded by Christie's resident pop culture specialist Simeon Lipman. "It's a very early example of his brilliance,"  said Lipman. "It comes from the mind of a teenager (with) some very interesting thoughts kind of percolating in his brain."

Indeed. Hype was quickly building regarding its importance to the formative Dylan's career as a songwriter. As one article began: "Long before he became famous for such tunes as 'Blowin' in the Wind,' Bob Dylan's social consciousness and artistry were evident in a poem he penned about a little dog who met a tragic end."

"Little Buddy" was estimated to bring in somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 at Christie's upcoming June 23 sale--that is, until a reader alerted the Reuters news service that printed a story about the poem that the poem bore an uncanny, nearly word-for-word resemblance to the song "Little Buddy," written and recorded by country music star Hank Snow in the late 1940s.

As they used to say on late night TV commercials: "NOW how much would you pay?"

We have yet to hear anything about this from Dylan himself, as his management company had no immediate comment when informed of the situation. But we have a sneaking suspicion that Bobby Zimmerman was probably just being a wiseacre teenager in passing off the poem as his own and getting a good chuckle when it was published. Or maybe not. In fact, the notoriety might just add to "Little Buddy'''s value on the auction block.

Speaking of which, if you don't know about it, you might want to check out an old African-American end-of-slavery spiritual called "No More Auction Block For Me," whose 1960 version by folksinger Odetta inspired Bob Dylan to later write his civil rights anthem "Blowin' in The Wind." Just hum along with the first lines of each, and you're in for an interesting surprise.

 

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