Bob Dylan's hair: An owner's guide
During the course of the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach's messy divorce settlement with his ex-wife Stephanie Gonis, there have been plenty of bitter, personal revelations and accusations thrown around by both parties. But one of the weirdest items revealed throughout the acrimonious process was the fact that in the settlement, Auerbach has agreed to part with an item referred to in court documents as "Bob Dylan Hair."
How much of Dylan's hair was in his possession isn't revealed, nor when, where, or from whom Auerbach obtained the legendary singer's locks, but it now appears like the strands of Bob's unruly mane now belong to Gonis (in addition to the $5 million settlement). Update 1/3/14: Turns out this item was actually a psychedelic poster nicknamed "Bob Dylan's Hair," but Auerbach knows how to get the genuine article if he needs it.
This got us thinking here at Gimme Noise -- not very hard, mind you, because this is just hair we're talking about -- about what era of Dylan's hair would fetch the most money from his die-hard fans and what would be some of the distinguishing characteristics of those particular locks.
Dylan's early days:
While the young singer/songwriter said goodbye to his Midwestern roots and forged a new direction and name for himself out East, his hairstyle reflected the short, perpetually unkempt trend of the burgeoning folk scene of the era. If you were to come across any of Dylan's hair from this time, it would most likely have the essence of the countless couches he crashed on and the numerous coffeehouses he performed in. And whatever the cheapest cigarettes were at the time.
As Dylan's musical career blossomed, so did a messy, snarled afro atop the head of the new "Voice of his Generation." At this point, Bob seemed to not care much about his hairstyle, and the look of exhaustion typically on his face at the time was only augmented by the unwashed mop of hair that adorned his head. While any of Dylan's hair from this time period would no doubt fetch a princely sum, the locks themselves would reek of fatigue, hotel rooms, typewriter ribbons, dark sunglasses, hardcover books and English cigarettes.
While Dylan retreated away from the intense and intrusive spotlight of the music world and the press that came with it, his hairstyle took on a more manicured, cleaner look, while still maintaining the eternally disheveled appearance of an artist at work. Dylan only allowed those he truly trusted to come into his inner circle at this time, so getting some of his hair from this era will prove to be nearly impossible, but if you manage to, these locks will have a strong hint of Woodstock, motorcycles, fur coats, big brass beds, and organic hand-rolled cigarettes.
This was a tumultuous period for Dylan, resulting in his own divorce from his first wife, Sara, in 1977. So, while there was initially plenty of despondency in both his music and his appearance at this time, his mates in the Band helped him start to have fun again. So, his hair grew long again, and his songs grew loose and free. I can imagine that Dylan would have let just about anyone give him a haircut at this time (including Rick Danko), so strands from this era should be easier to get a hold of, while taking on the air of basements, train tracks, Mozambique, top hats, whiteface, and hookahs.
The '80's are a somewhat forgettable era for Dylan, who became born again during the decade, and struggled to find the proper balance between his faith and his songwriting. And his hairstyle reflected the decade as well, with Dylan's mane adding a dirtier, more disheveled twist to Don Johnson's Miami Vice look. Again, the '80s weren't good to Dylan in many different ways. While anybody attending a Sunday service with Dylan might have easy access to strands of his wavy hair, strands from this era wouldn't fetch that much on the open market. (Is there an open market on Bob Dylan hair?) Tresses from this time period will smell of gospel choirs, Malibu, terrible album art, bibles, shots of love, and trying to quit smoking.
As Dylan turned 50, he began to take on the dignified, but decidedly world-weary, appearance of one of the elder-statesmen of rock 'n' roll. He still wore his hair a bit wild at times, but there was a new-found elegance to his look that only time and experience can bring. The late-'90s brought with it a creative rebirth and some well-deserved Grammy Awards for Dylan, and his hairstyle reflected that aged wisdom and hard-earned dignity. I can imagine that Dylan found a solitary trusted barber during this time of his life, and made numerous unannounced stops in to see him and only him, so hair samples from this fruitful time will probably be hard to come by and will definitely cost you. You can count on these strands to have hints of inspiration, dirt roads, soy bombs, cold irons, patience, and American Spirits.
The Dylan of recent years has been at times more open and available to his fans than he's been his entire career, while also being as hard to figure out and predict as ever. His first volume of his autobiography shed some light into his creative process, while no one ever expected Dylan to appear in a Victoria's Secret advertisement or release a Christmas album. But no matter how he is presenting himself artistically these days, the mop of hair on top of his head hasn't really changed all that much. Sure, it's grown grey and a bit thinner, but that unruly head of hair has grown to be as easily recognizable as his weathered, croaky voice. And, to compliment his look, Dylan has even at times added a mustache to his late-period appearance, and has pulled it off simply because he's Bob freaking Dylan. While his hair from this era will be wispy and white, it will also be imbued with the scent of modern times, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Alicia Keys, lingerie models, Duquesne, love, theft, originality, and secretive cigarettes.
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