San Francisco man returns Bob Dylan album to Ohio library 48 years late

San Francisco man returns Bob Dylan album to Ohio library – 48 years later.

Copy of Self-Portrait was taken out in 1973.

Library tells miscreant, ‘Don’t think twice, it’s all right’.

The great rock critic Greil Marcus memorably greeted Self-Portrait, Bob Dylan’s controversial 1970 double album, by asking “What is this shit?”

For 48 years, however, a library in Ohio was more concerned with where.

Then a man living in San Francisco mailed back a copy of the widely misunderstood record, nearly half a century after it was supposed to be returned.

Howard Simon sent the album along with a letter to Heights Libraries apologizing for his tardiness, according to a news release from the library system outside Cleveland.

Simon checked out the album in 1973, when he was an eighth-grader at a University Heights middle school. He says he found the double vinyl record between two other Dylan albums in his personal collection.

“As a recent retiree, I am taking the opportunity to turn my attention to some of the many vignettes of life that by dint of career and family have been neglected these many years,” Simon wrote.

“I am returning with the letter an overdue item by my count, approximately 17,480 days overdue as of this writing.”

His letter says the album cover is a little battered after traveling with him from University Heights to San Francisco with various stops in between. He also sent the library a $175 replacement fee and a copy of an album he recorded.

The library said the records themselves remained in “great shape” and essentially told the Dylan fan: “Don’t think twice, it’s all right.”

It was not immediately clear if the library had known the record was missing. But the branch manager Sara Phillips said: “The funny thing about this is that we don’t charge overdue fines anymore. As long as we get the item back, we see no need to penalize people.

“We’re grateful that Mr Simon returned the record. I’d said we can now call it even.”

Self Portrait is the tenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on June 8, 1970, by Columbia Records.

Self Portrait was Dylan’s second double album (after Blonde on Blonde) and features many cover versions of well-known pop and folk songs. Also included are a handful of instrumentals and original compositions. Most of the album is sung in the affected country crooning voice that Dylan had introduced a year earlier on Nashville Skyline. Seen by some as intentionally surreal and even satirical at times, Self Portrait received extremely poor reviews.

Dylan has stated in interviews that Self Portrait was something of a joke, far below the standards he set in the 1960s, and was made to get people off his back and end the “spokesman of a generation” tags.

Despite the negative reception, the album quickly went gold in the US, where it hit No. 4, and was also a UK No. 1 hit. The album saw a retrospective positive re-evaluation with the release of The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969–1971) in 2013.

Studio album by Bob Dylan

Released                June 8, 1970

Recorded               April 24, 1969 – March 30, 1970

Genre:                    Folk rock, blues rock, country rock

Length:                  73:15

Label:                    Columbia

Producer                Bob Johnston


Side one                                                                                Writer(s)

No.          Title                                       

  1. “All the Tired Horses”                                                 Bob Dylan           
  2. “Alberta #1”                                                                 Traditional           
  3. “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know”                 Cecil A. Null        
  4. “Days of 49”                                                                 Alan Lomax, John Lomax, Frank Warner
  5. “Early Mornin’ Rain”                                                 Gordon Lightfoot                
  6. “In Search of Little Sadie” Traditional           


Side two

No.          Title                                                                           Writer(s)                

  1. “Let It Be Me”                                                              Gilbert Bécaud, Mann Curtis, Pierre Delanoë              
  2. “Little Sadie”                                                                 Traditional           
  3. “Woogie Boogie” Bob Dylan           
  4. “Belle Isle”                                                                 Traditional           
  5. “Living the Blues”                                                    Bob Dylan           
  6. “Like a Rolling Stone”                                             Bob Dylan           


Side three

No.          Title                                                                       Writer(s)                

  1. “Copper Kettle”                                                       Albert Frank Beddoe         
  2. “Gotta Travel On”                                                   Paul Clayton, Larry Ehrlich, David Lazar, Tom Six    
  3. “Blue Moon”                                                             Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers         
  4. “The Boxer”                                                               Paul Simon          
  5. “The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)”           Bob Dylan           
  6. “Take Me as I Am (Or Let Me Go)”                      Boudleaux Bryant              

Side four

No.          Title                                                                         Writer(s)                

  1. “Take a Message to Mary”                                      Felice Bryant, Boudleaux Bryant   
  2. “It Hurts Me Too”                                                      Traditional           
  3. “Minstrel Boy”                                                            Bob Dylan           
  4. “She Belongs to Me”                                                  Bob Dylan           
  5. “Wigwam”                                                                     Bob Dylan           
  6. “Alberta #2”                                                                 Traditional