Psychedelic-Rock'n'roll: Tarantula

13 February 2012


Bob Dylan
160 pages, Scribner; Revised edition (October 5, 2004)

Tarantula is an experimental novel by "Bob Dylan", written between 1965 and 1966.
It employs stream of consciousness writing, somewhat in the style of "Jack Kerouac", "William S. Burroughs", and "Allen Ginsberg". One section of the book parodies the Leadbelly song "Black Betty".
Reviews of the book liken it to his self-penned liner notes to two of his albums recorded around the same time, "Bringing It All Back Home" and "Highway 61 Revisited".
"Bob Dylan" would later cite Tarantula as a book he had never fully signed up to write: "Things were running wild at that point. It never was my intention to write a book".

He went on to equate the book to "John Lennon"'s nonsensical work "In His Own Write", and implied that his former manager "Albert Grossman" signed up Dylan to write the novel without the singer's full consent.
Although it was to be edited by Dylan and published in 1966, his motorcycle accident in July 1966 prevented this.
The first 50 copies were printed on A4 paper by the Albion underground press of San Francisco in mid-1965.
The type-written pages were bound in yellow paper with a large red Tarantula pictured on the front.

Bob_Dylan,1966,columbia,grossman,psychedelic-rocknroll,folk,like_rolling_stone,desolation_rowNumerous bootleg versions of the book were available on the black market through 1971, when it was officially published to critical scorn.
In 2003 Spin magazine did an article called the "Top Five Unintelligible Sentences From Books Written by Rock Stars".
Dylan came in first place with this line from Tarantula, "Now's not the time to get silly, so wear your big boots and jump on the garbage clowns".