It’s not a huge project or a get-rich-quick scheme, says Tom Kundig of Seattle’s Olson Kundig Architects.
But it is an honor.
The firm recently won a competition to design the new Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, where the musician/songwriter/rockstar’s archives will soon be exhibited.
“All of us have grown up with his reinventions, repurposing and redirections, and then there are all these archives,” Kundig says. “He’s like an athlete – he works harder than anyone out there.”
There’s not much he didn’t save, either. Among the items Kundig came across in the archives is a business card from a Tennessee dry-cleaning establishment. “On it was written: ‘Bob – call me ASAP at this number,’” he says. “It was signed: ‘Otis Redding.’”
For his album “Blood on the Tracks” are scribbled reminders for one of Dylan’s more memorable tunes.
“For ‘Tangled Up in Blue,’ there are handwritten notes and words to the song,” he says. “You’re looking back into a diary and a very personal document. He was always very prickly about what his words mean, and the fact that we get to look at this stuff – it’s a hell of an honor and very interesting.”
Dylan selected Tulsa as the place to store and display his archives for good reason. It’s where the Woody Guthrie Center is already located.
“It’s an honor for him to be near Woody – he had a close interconnection with Woody and his feeling for the American agricultural landscape and the trains,” he says. “And somehow Bob picked up the trains – they’re an important part of the American story.”
Indeed, there are countless references to trains and tracks in Dylan’s body of work. And fortunately, the Tulsa site for his archives contains a warehouse, a loading dock – and a railroad spur.
One can’t help but hope that spur will be put to good use.
After all, it was Dylan himself who once lamented that “It takes lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry.”
Tomorrow: The site and the solution
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