Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Center Reveals a Trove of Treasures in ‘Mixing Up the Medicine’ Exhibit

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All photos on this page by Mark Brown, used with permission

Bob Dylan has been emptying the vaults in recent years, releasing hour after hour of previously unheard music in deluxe boxed sets. Fans rejoiced over holy grails, but he remained maddeningly uncommunicative about how the music evolved.

That ended on October 22, 2023, when “Mixing Up the Medicine,” a multimedia museum exhibit seven years in the making, opened at the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Okla. It is the holiest of grails, featuring more unreleased information than the average fan can process, including the legendary (and tiny) notebooks he used to craft Blood on the Tracks.

If you can’t make the long trek to Tulsa (it’s worth it), the next best thing is Mixing Up the Medicine, a 608-page, five-pounds-plus book that exhaustively chronicles the contents of his visual and written vault. The giant tome sells for a lofty price tag, but it’s worth it). The pages are packed with images, lyrics, history and memorabilia. Thirty Dylanologists contribute separate essays, making the book nearly as immersive as the exhibit. (It’s available for order in the U.S. here and the U.K. here.)

Bob’s watching

It turns out Dylan was a packrat; he saved everything from those 19-cent notebooks to countless early lyrics to songs, including “Look Out Kid” (which would eventually become “Subterranean Homesick Blues”). Multiple letters from pal George Harrison are included in the exhibit. Unreleased performances are shown on video screens, unreleased songs are included in the audio tour, unbelievable musical riches dot every inch of the state-of-the-art exhibit.

The Tulsa exhibit includes plenty of immersive and interactive material, whether it’s remixing a Dylan classic in a mini-studio or going through a virtual jukebox of Dylan and Dylan-related songs (curated by one Elvis Costello).

Tulsa itself is going in heavy on the Dylan museum. It’s in the Arts District next to the Woody Guthrie Center, and the two institutions have a close relationship. Tulsa International Airport is now festooned with Dylan decor, including signs with lyrics including “Time is a jet plane” from “You’re a Big Girl Now.”

We got another holy grail when Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home documentary captured the jaw-dropping “Judas!” moment from Dylan’s 1966 tour. “Mixing Up the Medicine” shows that the trail of grails is far from ending.

Below (top to bottom): A thank you letter from George Harrison; original lyrics for “Like a Rolling Stone”; recording master tapes; welcome sign at Tulsa International Airport

Related: When Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature

Watch the trailer for Bob Dylan: Mixing Up the Medicine book

Dylan is in the midst of his 2021-2024 “Rough and Rowdy Ways” tour. Tickets are available here and here.

Mark Brown

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  1. Barry Coppinger
    #1 Barry Coppinger 26 October, 2023, 09:38

    This looks fantastic! My friend Mark and I from Middlesbrough in the North East of England, as committed Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie fans, are going to come over all the way over to Tulsa for a few days in the spring of next year! Any advice on other places to visit in Tulsa area whilst over would be appreciated! Many thanks!

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