Gothamist has a pretty incredible story about some newly discovered Bob Dylan lyrics, to a song-never-recorded about Robert Moses. It’s easy to assume that the lyrics sheet is a hoax. But, because, it was discovered in the Tuli Kupferberg files, I’m inclined to regard it as legit.
Tuli was a true American character. He was a member of the musical avant garde jug-band the Fugs, an early progenitor of the Village underground, a leftist and a proto-zinester. I first learned of him when, accompanied by a (paid!) intern, I poured through David McReynolds’ archives to find suitable material for the Socialist Party’s 100th anniversary conference journal.
McReynolds was a long time leader of the SP, a pacifist and student of Bayard Rustin and A.J. Muste, a two-time candidate for President (I managed his second campaign in 2000; his first, in 1980, is purportedly the first time that an openly gay man ran for the office) and a long-time bohemian and Village resident. Before David complains about this post, I use the past tense because I am describing an event from 2001, not because he is dead. He is very much still alive (and blogging!).
David’s archives included many incredible photographic negatives of Socialist Party and War Resisters League events from the prior 40 years, including some of the last “new” pictures of Martin Luther King – from a WRL (or possibly Fellowship of Reconciliation?) – awards dinner in the early 1960’s.
It also included a shot from that same dinner night that I has developed into a 11″ x 14″ print that has adorned the walls of every home I have since called my own, of A.J. Must and Norman Thomas locked in an intense yet casual conversation at that same awards dinner, (I think) with the glass reflection of MLK’s back behind them.
So, what convinces me of the authenticity of these new Dylan lyrics because they were found in Tuli’s archives? Well, many of Tuli’s archives wound up in McReynolds’ archives – most notably a zine called “FUCK GOD!” When we came across that one, McReynolds chuckled and said, “That was pretty controversial back in its day. I don’t know how Tuli got away with that one!”
A few minutes later, I came across Tuli’s sequel to that particular opus, a mimeographed volume entitled, “FUCK GOD IN THE ASS!,” its cover adorned by a crude line drawing of a be-robed man with long grey hair, from behind, spreading his butt cheeks. “Yeah,” I said, “I think this would still be pretty controversial today.”
So, do I think it’s possible that young Bob Dylan threw a lyrics sheet of a song taking the piss out of “master builder” Robert Moses Tuli Kupferberg’s way? Yeah, you betcha.