Early Dylan Poem For Sale

A poem written by a 16-year-old Bob Dylan, but not really entirely written by Bob Dylan, is set to hit the auction block at Christie’s next month.

The poem, entitled “Little Buddy” and signed by “Bobby Zimmerman” AKA Robert Zimmerman AKA Bob Dylan, was written in 1957 when the singer-songwriter was going to Jewish summer camp at Herzl Camp in Webster, Wis.

The teenage Dylan submitted the poem to the camp newspaper, the Herzl Herald, and fellow camper and editor of the paper Lisa Heilicher has now decided to sell it to help raise money for Herzl Camp.

“I kept it with all of my stuff that I collected from camp,” Heilicher said. “When I realized how famous he had become, I put it in a piece of plastic and stuck it in an encyclopedia – under the letter ‘Z’ for Zimmerman.”

Heilicher asked Dylan’s nieces and nephews who work for the camp to tell Uncle Bob about her decision and the singer gave camp officials the OK to “do what you want with it.”

Photo: AP Photo
Bob Dylan feels the pain when he sings “Cry Awhile” at the Grammy Awards ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Tuesday Christie’s announced the handwritten poem, penned in blue ink and written on both sides of a single sheet of paper, would be up for grabs and is expected to sell for $10,000 to $15,000 June 23.

On Wednesday Christie’s made another announcement.

“Additional information has come to our attention about the handwritten poem submitted by Bob Dylan to his camp newspaper, written when he was 16, entitled ‘Little Buddy.’ The words are in fact a revised version of lyrics of a Hank Snow song,” Christie’s said in a statement.

“This still remains among the earliest known handwritten lyrics of Bob Dylan and Christie’s is pleased to offer them in our Pop Culture auction on June 23.”

“Little Buddy” tells the tale of a boy’s beloved dog that was killed by a drunken man. Sample lyrics: “He was such a lovely doggy/ And to me he was such fun/ But today as we played by the way/ A drunken man got mad at him/ Because he barked in joy/ He beat him and he’s dying here today.”

Dylan changed some of Snow’s lyrics and added some of his own. Snow’s song was recorded in December 1947 and then hit U.S. radio in November 1948.

Christie’s is also selling Dylan’s lyrics for “With God on Our Side,” which is estimated to bring in $20,000 to $25,000, and his 1958 yearbook from Hibbing High School (in Minnesota), which is expected to bring in $6,000 to $8,000.

Turns out Dylan wrote yearbook inscriptions just like any other high school kid. Here’s a section of what he wrote to a classmate: “Dear Brenda, Well, I didn’t see you too much this year but you know what went on in study hall was just kidding …”

Read the AP stories here and here.