Tom Sinclair
October 22, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

For nearly 40 years, Bob Dylan has tantalized us with inscrutable images. Most have been of the verbal variety — phrases such as ”the geometry of innocence,” ”darkness at the break of noon,” ”the ghost of electricity,” and hundreds of others that continue to pique our collective id and defy easy exegesis. However, during Dylan’s most fecund period (roughly 1962 to ’66), photographers Barry Feinstein, Daniel Kramer, and Jim Marshall were able to record images of a more tangible nature. The cream of their bold black-and-white portraits of the young pop messiah — many never before published — can be found in the just-released book Early Dylan (Bulfinch, $35).

”Bobby didn’t trust many people, so he was always very wary around the camera,” recalls Marshall, who nonetheless managed to gain his subject’s confidence enough to get some strikingly candid shots, which manage to puncture the sullen persona Dylan often cultivated. ”I could always tell when the time wasn’t right [to take his picture] by the look in his eye — or maybe Joan Baez would shoot me a glance that said, ‘Not now.”’Any insights into the Dylan mystique? ”None at all,” chuckles Marshall. ”Like Churchill said about Russia, he was a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma. That was the Bobby I knew, and I don’t think that’s changed.”

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