See Dylan Photographer Explain Blurry 'Blonde on Blonde' Cover

Jerry Schatzberg recalls chilly NYC cover shoot in new mini documentary

On November 6th, The Cutting Edge 1965–1966 — the latest installment in Bob Dylan's sprawling Bootleg Series — will tell the complete sonic story of the songwriter's initial trilogy of electric albums: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. In the lead-up to the release, rock scholar and PopSpots founder Bob Egan is filling in another piece of the puzzle with his trilogy of mini documentaries on the album covers of these classic releases.

In the first two installments, Egan visited locations in Bearsville, New York, and NYC's Gramercy neighborhood, respectively, with photographer Daniel Kramer. For this final video, covering the Blonde on Blonde cover, Egan remains in Manhattan but meets up with a new face — photographer Jerry Schatzberg  — and heads southwest to the Meatpacking District in search of the original site. Unlike the prior two covers, the Blonde on Blonde image, a blurry shot of Dylan against a brick wall, offers very little for the would-be location sleuth to go on.

Though the exact location of the photo remains elusive, Schatzberg does offer some insight into the quality of the image itself. "I know all the critics, everybody [said], 'Oh, they were trying to do a drug shot,'" says Schatzberg of the photo's now-iconic blurriness. "It’s not true. It was February; he was wearing just that jacket, and I was wearing something similar, and the two of us were really cold. And to his credit, he’s the one that chose that photograph."

The Cutting Edge 1965–1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12 will be released in three different versions, including a limited-edition 18-CD set containing the entirety of Dylan's studio output during those two years. As a preview of the set, the website Genius recently premiered animations that take the viewer through the lyrical evolution of various songs included in The Cutting Edge.