Friday, October 1, 2010

Dylan in America

Whoever it was in 1969 who named the very first Bob Dylan bootleg album “Great White Wonder” may have had a mischievous streak. There are any number of ways you can interpret the title — most boringly, the cover was blank, like the Beatles’ “White Album” — but I like to see a sly allusion to “Moby-Dick.” In the seven years since the release of his first commercial record, Dylan had become the white whale of 20th-century popular song, a wild, unconquerable and often baffling force of musical nature who drove fans and critics Ahab-mad in their efforts to spear him, lash him to the hull and render him merely comprehensible. --- Bruce Handy, NYTimes

I figured we can start fresh with Bob Dylan.  Couldn't resist this photo of him striking a Woody Guthrie pose.  Looks like only yesterday.  Here is a link to the comments building up to this reading group.


  1. Still waiting on my book, but feel free to begin.

  2. Great photo, Gintaras.

    Robert, it might be best to start with a chapter by chapter discussion since we're all still reading (or just getting our books). Feel free to get us going since you seem to be the farthest along.

    In the meantime, though, I'll just say how much I'm enjoying the book. And the chapter on Aaron Copland (now I know how to properly spell his name!) was fascinating.

    I hadn't really thought about the left of that period also being involved in music, particularly what I loosely call "classical" music. By the time I was involved with the "folk" scene in Southern California I was listening to people like Guthrie and Seeger -- still am, (and reading the Beats) -- but had never really made the connection to someone like Copland. Now I know!

  3. NY, have you seen this movie:

    This is the world that Copland was living and working in, and one that Wilentz sees as the foundation for Dylan's music. Fascinating time -- one I wish I knew more about.

  4. Ralph Rinzler, Bob Dylan, and John Herald, Gaslight Café, 1961:

    Lady in front of cafe:

    many neat fotos of late 1950s Beats in Greenwich village:

  5. Dave von Ronk ~ Dylan's musical guru in the Village:

    ''Robert Shelton described Van Ronk as, "the musical mayor of MacDougal Street, a tall, garrulous hairy man of three quarters, or, more accurately, three fifths Irish descent. Topped by light brownish hair and a leonine beard, which he smoothed down several times a minute, he resembled an unmade bed strewn with books, record jackets, pipes, empty whiskey bottles, lines from obscure poets, finger picks, and broken guitar strings. He was Bob [Dylan]'s first New York guru. Van Ronk was a walking museum of the blues. Through an early interest in jazz, he had gravitated toward black music - its jazz pole, its jug-band and ragtime center, its blues bedrock... his manner was rough and testy, disguising a warm, sensitive core. Van Ronk retold the blues intimately... for a time, his most dedicated follower was Dylan."''

    My fellow Brooklynite von Ronk was a musical hero to me as well. Here he is with what might be called his signature song, ''Sunday Street'':

  6. I think it was in No Direction Home, where it was noted that Dylan would often pilfer Van Ronk's albums, as he had an incredibly extensive collection of blues and rock albums. Apparently, it even came to blows at one point.

  7. Speaking of Dave Van Ronk,

    Interesting to read in this New Yorker review by Luis Menand, that Dylan stole Van Ronk's arrangement of "The House of the Rising Sun" as well. All though there was some poetic justice when the Animals made an even bigger hit from the song,

  8. Dylan & Hibbing, Minnesota ~

    Despite its small population, this city has had a far great impact on this world than you might suppose.

  9. Folkway Records:

    ''It was also an early proponent of the singers and songwriters, such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Leadbelly, who formed the center of the American folk music revival.

    The label became very influential on a generation of folk singers because of its release of a great number of old-time recordings by re-discovered performers from the 1920s and 1930s'' and, of course, Dylan.

    Musical link:

  10. Having read the Excerpt in Book Review at -- I remain in shock. I lived on that corner Macdougal and 8th.Street. You entered at the door of an art school with a horse-shoe-staircase. The hall on the left descended to the basement apartment with the front just below street level on 8th. As you went beyond the living room, there was daylight in the kitchen where the door opened on Macdougal Alley. Above,to your right was Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney's studio,second floor rear. By the 1980s, ownership of that part of the Alley and the front buildings was taken up by the Morgans, hopefully in perpetuity, to repair whatever had to be revamped, and let it become income producing again (it was also an extension of the Am.History Museum; downtown).

    Wilentz account jolted me, as he explained coming over from Brooklyn Heights to the bookstore, which I seem to remember being a little further walk across the street, along with Chinese restaurant,the usual small shops.

    Last time, I looked, was just before the war in Kuwait. My son was visiting me in Princeton for the first time since he had done an endless world-tour shipboard; he had to do several training sessions in Manhattan and I recognized the gyms as being those that were frequented by actors who had to stay in shape to continue to be cast for tv.

    So at a certain point, I excused myself and one of the habitues of the gym kindly wrote a note for me, to find the address and the way back, as not to lose my way. Then I crossed Fifth as usual, just as if it were yesterday, down 8th, took a good look a Macdougal, No.8 (?),the Alley, the Square,ate lunch at Shakespeare & Co., went back to the gym; and back to Princeton.

    Nowadays, Wilentz is on campus, although he is apparently in California on sabbatical; but must have been a kid at the time that I left to go back to the upper Midwest, crossing paths with Dylan who was coming down to Positively Fourth Street. A block further east or more,I worked nights at Allman Bros.Coffee House; but of course recognize most of the popular conversational spots. The most amusingly mentioned in Songlines is the San Remo and I get the feeling that the editor had it somehow confused with the White Horse because at that point in history the San Remo was a popular Sunday Brunch spot.

    Romney opened his club on the corner more or less attempting to develop his routine as Wavy Gravy, where I encountered him yet again in the early Sixties while doing a favor for a friend. We had first met under most unpleasant circumstances the night of the Ginsberg/Corso reading at MacMillan Hall on Columbia campus.

  11. I deleted the extra posts and the two comments associated with them (for convenience).

  12. A warm welcome to our newest contributor, Neil. And, to you as well Dianne.

  13. I second the welcome.

    Many of us still don't have our books yet, so plenty of time to get a copy and read the book and comment along with us.

  14. While everyone waits on books, one thing I thought was fascinating in the introduction was that Wilentz through some odd coincidences and luck ended up being Dylan's unofficial historian and even wrote the liner notes for one of his albums. The only historian I've ever heard of who was actually nominated for a grammy!

    Not as enamored of chapter two about the Beats -- hopefully he'll get his groove back in the next section. He is walking a difficult path trying to weave together all these disparate paths and still say it's a book about Dylan (although the young Dylan and Ginsberg appear to have been good friends -- an odd couple if ever there was one).

  15. Sounds to me that Wilentz is trying more to place Dylan within the context of America, not give us a biography per se.

  16. Yes, so far that is the book's real strength and his stated goal. He says up front that there are other biographies available.

    But you can sort of read between the lines that he feels obligated to keep introducing Dylan in these early chapters to keep the reader interested. In fact, he kind of apologizes up front for the "asides" and promises as the book goes on he'll include more of Dylan's story. My guess this is part of the marketing process, not necessarily his intended focus.

    It worked okay with Copland. He hasn't won me over with his chapter on the Beats, although in this case Dylan was directly involved with some of them, and his work clearly influenced by them.

  17. Good afternoon: Not being very into music, I thought I might have some difficulty participating--but now I feel comfortable becaue Wilentz and a few participants brought back sharp memories I have of Izzy and Wilentzs' father and the bookstore and other places too numerous to mention. Now I'm "into" the book and the suject. I was particularly impressed by the account of Aaron Copland and the Popular Front and their influence, however indirect on Dylan. I didn't know Copland was an emigre in Paris. I am familiar with his Communist sympathies and how he never lived it down. Coland and his followers generated a new form of music in the thirties, based on Copland's "enforced simplicity"---Could somebody explain the concept more fully? It involved folk music among other types and certainly influenced Dylan. Also, bot Guthries were still very inflential when I frequented the Village in the sixties. Maybe someone more into music than I can post on how Copland and the Guthries influence music in general and more specically, influenced Dylan.

    It sure feels good to be back at this.Both my typing and my reading continue to improve.I'll stay with you until we get to stuff I dn't understand--I left off at page 160 or so--so I'll be Ok for a while.
    I'll be back tomorrow--this is enough for the today.

  18. @ Bob
    I have fifteen paragraphs too long in response to: "Maybe someone more into music than I can post on how Copland and the Guthries influence music in general and more specically, influenced Dylan."
    I could boil it down to this: Probably the only political objection to the Guthries' music was that it was the music of organization, labor organization against management. That would never do, now, would it?

  19. @Bob, by the Sixties, Dylan's generation of musicians were able to carry it South and swap music, technically, during voter registration marches, open-housing marches. Made the acquaintance of many of them when they bounced back; because they knew that I composed lyrics.

  20. ''Co[p]land and his followers generated a new form of music in the thirties''

    Copland's music amalgamated old cowboy, Western, folkloric themes into classical music that was accessible to the masses. He idealized the common man with his 'Fanfare'. Woody Guthrie's folk songs also idealized common people. Ultimately, these innovative styles (which were ispired by the troubled days in which they appeared) created the milieu which enabled Dylan to emerge as the cultural icon that influenced so many musical stars back then.

    I can understand why Dylan did not like to be called ''modern minstrel'' as this designation is too limiting for the type of eclectic star he was and remains. A minstrel is imitative. And while Dylan did 'steal' a few musical motifs here and there, he was not so much an imitator as he was musical innovator.

  21. Dinkytown is mentioned in the recorded book I am using. I don't know if the written book has an illustration or photo of this old Bohemian part of Minneapolis (near the University of Minnesota) so here's an illustration for those who don't know what this refers to:


    John H Hammond ~ producer of Dylan's early work. He also produced blues, folk, jazz, and rock albums.

  23. Trippler: Agreed--that is, I can see Coplands style as it emerged during the Depression--his attempt to write for the common man and that his technique was to integrate "western" music into his compositions. I spent last night reading about Coplan and the depression and how the Popular Front influenced him in his works. Both books agreed that he was on the left--that he never joined anything, but held beliefs which he considered "mainstream." Instead of becoming a "revolutionary," he became a Progressive in the nature of early twentieth century type. Unfortunatly, as the Popular Front died, he began to be looked as a Communist and fell out of favor--even with the more liberal movements of the sixties. Bob Dylan then picked up aspects of his style and they hit home in that generation. He didn't exactly copy Coplan, but the influence is there. Copland was never political, Guthrie was, Dylan skirted around things, but was clearly on the left--but avoided politics in general.
    Am I "off base" here?
    The books I was reading from were: "Dancing in the Dark" byDickstein---Chapter 12, page 441, et seq. The other book is the Kindle edition of Crists' Music For The Common Man, a biograhy of Aaron Coplan. I read the opening segmen.Kindle have no page #'s--I read to section 180, that is about 10 or 15 pages --but it is well worth the read

  24. I somehow made some rather dramatic progress last night. With the aid of a solid kelly green bookmarkrk, and going rather slowly, I read directly from a book for the first time in a year and three months.I read all of Chapter 12 from Morris Dickstein's DANCING IN THE DARK--22 pages...I'm still gettin better. I want to be able to read a small book by December or so--but I don't want to push my luck, so I'll go very slowly and see how it goes. 22 pages is a good start--it took about an hour--not bad give my condition

  25. Robert, it is so nice to see you here again, reading and commenting on the book! Feels like old times.

    Re Copland, I see him (through Wilentz's eyes) as an attempt to ground what I loosely refer to as "classical" music with something that can communicate to the common man, as his one piece is called. I still find classical music from that period difficult to listen to.

    I think Wilentz says something like it's Copland's melding of low, middle, and high music and folk heroes (like Billy the Kid) that can become distinctly American democratic culture.

    In much the same way The Cradle will Rock attempted to fuse the low and high art forms into something that could speak beyond the traditional musical theatre genre.

    Interesting that Copland was at the premier of that play. If anyone hasn't seen that movie, I recommend it. The characterizations if nothing else make it worth while (and the commissioning and then destruction of the Rivera mural is amazing).

  26. I think I'm just about repaired.My caretaker s reminded me it only took two days to go from Dylan all the way back to Copland and the Popular Front. It really is like old I'll try and stay more focused on the book....but if you want real good background in addition to Wilentz, read the first chapter of Crist's MUSIC FOR THE COMMON MAN
    Have a good day...I'll be back on Monday and concentrate on Dylan more.

  27. @trippler Oct.2,2010 8:05 PM

    A few words on Minstrelsy. Having made a few trips that added to his repertoire, Dylan was aware of the disrepute of white black-face minstrels among African-Americans whether musicians or others. His lyrics also often show his historic political awareness sensitive to these themes in music created in centuries before his own. (I might add that this was something shared in common with Ginsberg's compositions of new adaptations of some very old congregational prayer in Hebrew that became Beat Poetry. The two of them just applied it differently. For Ginsberg, the cantillation was already there but he used the language of the New York street. Dylan stuck pretty closely to British forms that folk music had inherited and that he reworked; as you said, in innovative ways. He went through changes of instrumentation and approach.

  28. More words on Minstrelsy.
    In Europe, it had always been okay to be imitative yet innovative. Minnesinger is the Germanic word origin of Minstrel; otherwise in Romance languages,Troubadour. They traveled from court to court. Nowadays,I listen to what Sting has to offer in reworking something from the 17th.century.

    In a way it was necessary to make that Albert Hall tour that Pennebaker filmed (two different dates given, and suspect that 1965 is the tour, and 1967 the release of: "Don't Look Back", where Dylan sits down with Donovan
    and swaps licks of some very old traditions.

  29. Wilentz refers to the NY Philharmonic (now Avery Fisher Hall) along with the Lincoln Center For the Performing Arts complex as Robert Moses's ''neighborhood killer''. For those who don't know it, this is a reference to the old San Juan Hill neighborhood largely composed of Blacks and Puerto Ricans who were displaced in order to create that music center. I remember when poor folks back then complained of being thrown out in the streets with no place to go.

    Because of that, many people (especially Blacks and Hispanics) refused to attend any events at Lincoln Center in a boycott that lasted for many years. I participated in that boycott and refused to attend any events there up until about 1980 or 1981 when I went to see a traveling Kabuki theater.

    San Juan Hill:

    It is surprising that Dylan along with other White liberals performed there in the 1960s when so many others refused to go near it.

  30. Gintaras,
    Don't know now whether you posted these sites or did Trippler? Sounds a bit more like you,however.

    This obviously is from when you went to see The Subterraneans with Gerry Mulligan's Quartette and Mardou Fox,right?

    This on the other hand was taken at the real Big Sur, as written by Jack Kerouac when what's her name, Lenore Kandel came to visit.

  31. Ps. Thanks for eliminating the extra copy of my first text.

  32. Classical music has long picked up on folk themes, and it is not surprising that Copland would turn to folk themes in creating something new in the way of "American" classical music. He fell under the influence of Stravinksy in Paris, and like Stavinsky, saw his music intertwined with dance. Rodeo and Appalachian Spring were created for Agnes de Mille and Martha Graham respectively.

  33. Interesting to read how active Copland was politically in his MPR piece,

    "Copland's skillful parrying of McCarthy and Co.'s attempts to skewer him was all the more impressive because, by the standards of the Senate committee, he had a great deal to evade. He'd been particularly active up in Northern Minnesota in the summer of 1934, speaking in solidarity with the Communist farmers near Bemidji, and sharing a podium with the Minnesota Communist candidate for governor, S.K. Davis. In 1936, he supported Communist presidential candidate Earl Browder."

  34. Parsons, glad you got the book! Look forward to your thoughts about it.

    Trippler, interesting insight about Lincoln Center -- something I had never heard. In that context, I am surprised too that Dylan et al. performed there (but I haven't got to that Chapter yet -- that's next).

    Gintaras, Wilentz makes the Copland experiences in Minnesota sound a bit of a lark, although it's clear he was sympathetic. Sounds like for political and other purposes, he just wanted to get that period behind him. He was particularly good at frustrating the committee who seems to have simply given up and let him go.

  35. DJ,

    I posted the fotos the Beats in Greenwich Village and am not old enough to have been there when those vents took place. It sure must have been a great time!

    If my poor memory serves me correctly, I saw Jerry Mulligan in down town Manhattan - most likely, an outdoor concert some time in the early or mid 80s. Cool jazz declined in popularity at that time but it still has a considerable following which is well deserved.

  36. Seems to me that Dylan's link to the Beats would have come largely through On the Road, published in 1957. That seems to be the way many came to "know" the Beats at the time.

  37. Here's a link to an article Wilentz wrote for the New Yorker on Dylan and the Beats,

    which seems to come largely out of the research he did for the book.

  38. This is from Chapter 2 -- don't want to get too far ahead while people are still waiting on their books or catching up with the reading -- but according to Wilentz, Dylan came to the Beats through Kerouac's Mexico City Blues, which sings the praises of the movie of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men -- the score of which was written by Copland. (He also apparently was introduced early on to the work of Burroughs)

    But he apparently lost interest in Kerouac by the time he came to NY and became a friend/protege of Ginsburg.

    This is the chapter that I found a bit patchy and difficult to follow, with all sorts of connections being woven in and out, but it seems like this was a formative period for Dylan as well as many others.

  39. @ avrds
    After almost a dozen years, I remember little other than the usual impressive work of John Turturro in The Hand That Rocked the Cradle; but the Director(despite his recent divorce)is to be commended for tackling this work. It is of course the kind of thing for which he is continually noted, theatrical challenge.
    In regard to the relationship of Dylan to Ginsberg, I should like to refer to an earlier of your posts, and do so in segments.

  40. In reply to:avrds said... Also interesting to see the influence of left wing Jewish homosexuals at a time when you would think their cultural impact would have been socially restricted. So far Wilentz hasn't made much of that, but I would guess that is fairly significant given the time period.
    September 30, 2010 5:42 PM

    "Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, on June 3, 1926. The son of Louis and Naomi Ginsberg, two Jewish members of the New York literary counter-culture of the 1920s,"
    I feel this places him in the same Newark milieu as Philip Roth.
    "Being a Jew is like walking in the wind or swimming: you are touched at all points and conscious everywhere",
    Lionel Mordecai Trilling,
    Columbia University, I've recently commented upon at Melba's Place(escape from elba); Allen's excessive dependency on Lionel Trilling and his wife Diana, who was the first to recognize it not for what it was but suspected that Allen's homosexuality was a threat to the Trilling marriage. Maybe I'd be the first to admit that the reality was rather the Newark literary background of the poets among the men in the Ginsberg family:Allen's father; and there is also an uncle's influence with which I am less familiar.

  41. Whether Allen was already seeing the psychiatrist who became apparent during Allen's off-campus life involving a cluster of homosexual influences: William Burroughs on one hand; and the attraction of Jack Kerouac for rough trade that he continually wrote about and, felt like a missing limb, now but a mystical remainder of his childhood's lost brother, Gerard, deceased before Kerouac was safely past puberty's development, the psychiatrist did figure in by persuading Ginsberg to drop the mask of social assimilation
    as the properly dressed attentive student of Prof. Trilling. I cannot recall if this loosening up of tie and collar had entirely taken place before the Morningside Park Heights murder erupted where Lucien Carr (father of historian, Caleb Carr, who is a beautiful writer of novels beginning with,The Alienist) lashed out at some stranger in the park who had apparently tried to kiss him. This ended up with a dead body dumped in the river, after several persons helped roll the body downhill; which resulted in the entire residency of the Columbia off-campus apartment being summoned or arrested by the police. There were no witnesses, as far as I recall; one had to take Lucien Carr's word for it.

    *In 1954, Ginsberg moved to San Francisco. His mentor, William Carlos Williams, introduced him to key figures in the San Francisco poetry scene, including Kenneth Rexroth. " Actually, this correspondence between Williams and Rexroth is a matter of literary record that goes back to the days when Williams carefully accompanied H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) to the house-party at Point Pleasant Beach,New Jersey that was being given for Ezra Pound's departure to Europe (of which his "fiancee" Hilda Doolittle was unaware). Upon realizing this, H.D. threw herself into the Atlantic, and Williams dove in after her to save her life

  42. Rexroth later went on to Paris, to the circle of Surrealist painters and poets, whom he translated, then made his way to Aix en Provence (call this, more Troubadours, if you will). Encountering Pound at some point, Rexroth wrote to James Laughlin (after Ezra had asked him to become his secretary): why don't you go on and take the position with Ezra Pound? It will give you something to do. Jim Laughlin instead founded New Directions publishing house, remaining close friends, camping buddies, leaving an extensive correspondence with Kenneth Rexroth who at this point was writing poems lauding his admiration of the Paterson, New Jersey poet, as letters to William Carlos Williams. These are admirable as poems but were the direct cause of Williams, alas writing a letter of recommendation for Allen Ginsberg to Kenneth Rexroth who took the Imagist poet Williams at his word. Within another ten to fifteen years, Rexroth loathed Ginsberg as much as Diana Trilling had.

    Quotes are from Poets.Org The Academy of American Poets (with exception of the Lionel Trilling quote, from The Nation; or,

  43. Lawrence Ferlinghetti remains active at the age of 91:

    I love this one:

    And this:

    From 'A Coney Island of the Mind'
    Number 20

    by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

    The pennycandystore beyond the El
    is where I first
    fell in love
    with unreality
    Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
    of that september afternoon
    A cat upon the counter moved among
    the licorice sticks
    and tootsie rolls
    and Oh Boy Gum

    Outside the leaves were falling as they died

    A wind had blown away the sun

    A girl ran in
    Her hair was rainy
    Her breasts were breathless in the little room

    Outside the leaves were falling
    and they cried
    Too soon! too soon!


    Ferlinghetti did not consider himself a Beat (neither did Dylan) but both were influenced by and, in turn, exerted an influence on them and their followers. And while some of their work (like the blurb above) deals with mortality or other forms of limitations, the truth is that they live on through their great works.

  44. Again, jumping ahead to chapter 2, early in the 1960s Dylan actually met with Ferlinghetti to discuss publishing his work as one of the small chapbooks (like Howl) that Ferlinghetti was publishing. I imagine even then that would have been a best seller for him.

  45. WOW!!! The discussion is really off and running. I just downloaded and copied Wilentzs' New Yorker article, which is an excerpt from Chapter two---which I already read--oh, well--such is life. I'l start re-reading tomorrow. I'll also look into Lionrl Trilling--a figure who is very obscure in my memory, but I remember his being somewhat controversial. I'll also read up about Lincoln Center--a Bob Moses project gone mad.I have Robert Caro's POWER BROKER--a must read on the part of us all. It's a thosand page tome on how a New York City Parks Commissioner became the most powerful man in the City and proceeded to literally rebuild the City. You can't fall down in Ny without hitting a Bob Moses Proect. Lincoln Center was a TITLEII FHA Housing rehabilitatio project. It displaced thousands and required the total destruction of a massive slum. It was slum clearence gone berzerk.

  46. Trippler,
    Enjoyed your research of the REAL Hibbing! That really brought back memories of how bleak that part of the country really is. I went back to one of my childhood haunts in the early 1980s, in a place which today I refer to as East Lake Wobegone (my brother still lives in the Twin Cities);and I once waved goodbye to a young lady taking off in a Volkswagon hauling a tiny trailer to the southern shore of Lake Superior where there were all of four rooming houses you might rent a room from since there were no hotels or motels available even in 1994-5(?)where she was going to do a water-quality study. I kept calling after her,"Are you sure you have enough woolen blanket, feather-downs,heavy socks, extra boots, long underwear...?" As we were living in the fairly mild Hopewell,New Jersey where you had a "Nor-easter" about once every four years and could walk down the middle of the street climbing through the snow-drifts on the main commuting route from the Delaware toward the Greater Metropolitan area.

  47. Ps.
    No, Ferlinghetti did not consider himself a Beat, just a book publisher who had trouble with immigration during and immediately following WW2 because he came to North Beach from a "fascist country". THAT is what I seriously believed less than three years ago!

    It seems there is plenty of contradictory evidence; and it also appears he has a much better education that almost all of the Beats.

    You will find several of his most interesting poems at the web-site below.

  48. I meant to mention to you, Trippler, re: the posted photographs. The Beats did not really dress like that; the women that is. That young woman in the black or dark turtleneck was what the Village residents of those years referred to as "Jelly beans" by which they meant tourists who descended on Washington Square each weekend. Often the tourists were from the outer boroughs or good heavens!from across the river.

    Then as recently,all black garb was favored, as we dashed in and out of dance studios with maybe a pair of dry tights that we had time to change into,some pullover top or wrap-around skirt buttoned at the waste and a big cover up ballon coat three-quarter length or jacket.

    Thick black eyeliner rimmed the eyes; if, and when it strayed, you smudged it in as dark shadow and relined your eyes. The palest almost whitened lipstick contrasted. We had pony-tails; but by that time I favored a braid down to my waist.

    Young men seldom looked like Bobby Dylan but had gone through an Existentialist phase and dressed with about as much aplomb as Jean Paul Sartre who looked truly wretched. This changed after 1957 when Norman Mailer's article,The White Negro, was published.

    The girl whom I remarked was at Big Sur, looks very much like Natalie Wood dressed about the time of: Splendor in the Grass.

    And there really was a movie "based on a Kerouac novel" which it hardly resembled; but it did have Gerry Mulligan,Art Farmer, Dave Bailey,and Art Pepper(?), Buddy Clarke(?), as the musicians, theoretically at The Cellar, I suppose, in The Subterraneans.

    I recall that we all got in a car and rode off across the Hudson and went to the McCarter Theater in Princeton, where the Quartette were giving a concert but that had actually more to do with the music from another film, I Want to Live (starring Susan Hayward).

  49. There was another fashion statement; for men.
    Many decades before Grunge, I met a young person who seemed to be Jack Kerouac's "valet". He followed him everywhere and waited on him hand and foot(would be the cliche). He was also studying at Columbia,and lived with his parents on Sugar Hill in Harlem.
    Naturally, he dressed exactly like Jack; in those flannel shirts that have various plaids.

  50. @ Bob,
    Re: Copland, I happened to notice when coming in tonight that a previous reading on Aaron Copland identified that he had studied with Nadia Boulanger while in Paris.

    During the War, she came to Princeton and lived in the neighborhood which was the first where I found an apartment; rather at the bottom of the hill from Westminster Choir College where Boulanger taught Piano.

  51. Much to my relief, my copy of Dylan arrived today and will dig in right away.

  52. Glad you got the book, Gintaras! It's a quick read. I read another two chapters last night.

    Now if we can get Dianne to read and discuss the book, maybe we can focus the discussion again.

  53. Not that I recommend anyone ever read Stanley Fish -- talk about uninterpretable -- but this is relevant:

  54. Stanley Fish uninterpretable? What do you mean? I really like his blog and use it from time to time in my composition classes. (Uh oh, maybe that's why my students have been giving me those funny looks.).

  55. In reading Wilentz' section on Dylan and the Beasts from the New Yorker, I find myself a bit bemused that he would support the conclusion that Dylan's success proved the death knell of the Beats. I wonder what Tom Wolfe would have to say about this, who followed Ken Kesey, Neal Cassidy the Merry Pranksters, the Grateful Dead and many others in his "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." These guys definitely captured the "yab-yum" experience as told in "Dharma Bums."

    Nevertheless, I found all these linkages quite interesting, as well as the relationship that developed between Ginsburg and Dylan. Seems to me that Ginsburg sublimated much of his earlier passion for Kerouac in Dylan, especially in regard to the Rolling Thunder Revue. I don't think that "film" was ever released. All I have been able to find is the concert from 1975, which was part of his "Bootleg Series," and the Logbook which Sam Shepard kept. Probably better to call it footage.

  56. It also intrigued me that Dylan tried to remain apolitical, despite writing songs which very definitely can be regarded as political in the 60s. Maybe he choose to move away from this later, which apparently worried Joan Baez. I suppose by the mid-70s much of the spirit that had lifted Dylan and others in the 60s was gone, or as Hunter Thompson evocatively describes in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," had receded like a giant wave. It was time to move on.

  57. Interesting idea that Ginsburg may have shifted his interest from Kerouac to Dylan -- Wilentz paints him as smitten with Dylan, that's for sure, as Kerouac sort of receded into the background by his own choice.

    I'm not sure where the idea of Dylan being apolitical comes from. As you say (and Wilentz lists), he wrote some powerfully political songs. As his career continued, he appeared to be interested in pushing the envelope musically as well as content-wise.

    The chapter on the recording of Blonde on Blonde shows Dylan struggling to perfect his lyrics and capture that in sound as they recorded.

    Still not sure what exactly Wilentz is trying to do here -- but I'm sticking with him.

  58. Interesting to see that Ginsberg's foray into music came in the 70s with COME BACK CHRISTMAS; MacDougal Street Blues,

    Does one suppose this was a result of his time with Dylan?

  59. Seems if anything Dylan became more subtle in the way he expressed his political views, but they were still there. At least as far as the 70s is concerned. After that is anyone's guess, but he finally got a chance to be part of a Western,

  60. DJ,

    Thanx for those personal reminiscences about Village life back in the day. You must have had a good time with those very interesting characters!

    Years later, I must have been one of those 'jelly bean' types since I only hung out there on weekends or at night after work. But thereafter, I always went back to my haunts in good old Brooklyn. I always wonder how many future or wannabe Dylan's or Baez's I watched performing on the streets or in Washington Square Park back then.

    The Other End, Village Gate, Village Vanguard, and Bottom Line were still there when I stumbled upon the scene. But their heyday was pretty much in the past. Now with gentrification, much of the area has lost its Bohemian character and is now rather ritzy. Gone but not forgotten!

  61. A really neat Dylan link:

    As Wilentz points out, Dylan had many detractors and defenders throughout his entire career. If there is one person who opened up many people's eyes (and ears) to Dylan's work it is the famous NYC disc jockey Murray the K:

    from wikipedia:

    ''he played artists like Bob Dylan and Janis Ian, the long album versions of their songs that came to be known as the "FM cuts". Al Aronowitz quotes Murray as saying, about his this formula, "You didn't have to hype the record any more. The music was speaking for itself." [4]
    [edit] Dylan

    During that time Murray was often a champion of the much-maligned electric Bob Dylan. He introduced him to boos at a huge Forest Hills Tennis Stadium concert in August 1965, saying "It's not rock, it's not folk, it's a new thing called Dylan."[5]

    He defended Dylan on a WABC-TV panel:

    "Even in his months of seclusion after the motorcycle accident, WABC-TV dedicated a television show to a discussion of what Bob Dylan was really like. When one member of the panel accused Dylan of all but inventing juvenile delinquency, there was only Murray the K to defend him. 'Is Bob Dylan every kid's father?' Murray asked." [6]

    And he played his music, full length, on the radio. Some referred to him as the Second Dylan.''

    Up to 1964, Murray Kaufman played popular Top 40 singles on AM radio. But when FM was developed he pioneered an album oriented format which played longer records many of which featured social commentary. Therefore, it was natural for him to present Dylan.

    I am now on chapter 5, part III of the recorded book and have yet to find Murray Kaufman's name mentioned in the narration. Perhaps I have overlooked that in listening to it. If not, and if Wilentz has overlooked Kaufman's role in promoting Dylan, I would that Wilentz has made a VERY serious omission in his book.

  62. Even I remember Murray the K, but haven't seen him in the book yet (or in the index).

    That's a GREAT site you linked to, Trippler. The one photo of Dylan makes him look like a young Russian or American revolutionary -- totally different look.

    One thing that timeline calls out is that Dylan was booed when his music began to change. Wilentz also mentions that in passing, but there doesn't seem to be any real context for this, at least not yet in my reading.

    I'm interested in what others think of the book as a whole, once we all get to the end of it.

  63. "Now if we can get Dianne to read and discuss the book, maybe we can focus the discussion again.

    October 5, 2010 5:29 AM"

    On Friday, the 24th. of September, at this time in the late-afternoon/early evening, Carol Polk posted that this reading was taking place at Am.Hist.Perspectives. The next day, I read the reviews and excerpt; ordered the book although the student-union no longer maintains the bookstore on campus. I was informed who was handling books for them currently and that the book would probably arrive on Monday the 27th. of Sept. I then sent an e-mail to Wilentz who will be conducting a course on this text.

    My receipt from the book shop on Nassau is dated Mon. the 27th, although I am not quite sure exactly which day it arrived, If you read the contract with Google carefully, there are negatives for some people just as much as there are positives for others posting with them. I asked the opinion of two careful friends whom were listed as readers/participants here at Am.Hist.Perspectives. Meanwhile I looked over the discussion and followed it from where it began.

    I then began reading the book as soon as it had arrived. If I had not, I would not have chosen to post on the material that I have posted.

    As I mentioned to Bob W., my reply to how Copland would partner with the choreographer who commissioned the music for the dance-suite amounted to 15 paragraphs, mainly shorter than longer, to describe how the composer has the advantage of being able to see the rhythm that the dancer has created and, as a musician, usually can feel that as well. He can watch the singular dance creator and/or the whole company that will be performing, although this may remain in flux as quite often, when the music is performed, the choreographer will be inspired to take up other tangents that the music calls up.

    In short, I mentioned to Bob, his other concern about what the folk artists themselves might be providing for a new generation in the tradition of folk artistry adapting to what social conditions in our own time. I could see that he was about to tackle a lot of variable material. In fact, his response rather proves the breadth of his interests on various tangents of Wilentz' topic.

    Other than the above pertinent matters, what can I say? Meow?

  64. @Trippler,
    The down-load was taking much too long before reading the posting of the day but...Will get back to it eager to see this Zimmerman guy as Russian revolutionary (or, American; whatever...).
    Not actually odd, puts me in mind of Stapleton doing Emma Goldman, alhough much better looking than the Polish-American that the Pinkertons did not really want to become an American.

    It is just as likely that folk-song artist Zimmerman (with the one-legged father)had origins further East than his birth-name implies. His curls just emphasize his look of the Chassid schoolboy; better looking no doubt than the great writer who left Warsaw and came to Manhattan just in time while his brother preferred to stay behind. That is Fate. Issac Bashevis Singer started the first Yiddish newspaper for New York and often you encounter people who send a letter to the editor of The New York Times about how much they loathe him. Especially women seem to be annoyed with something; whatever...

    We already know what Bobby Zimmerman started but I haven't met anybody as yet who actually hated him for having done so.

  65. Thaks for the the reply>>>>I sometimes get tangential, but am easily redirected.Right now,for instance, I started to read Ron Chernow's George Washington: A life and find it as good as his other books. I'll be back into Dylan in a day or so...have a good evening.

  66. @Trippler
    I tried explaining The Village Gate to "..theLarch" a few years ago but somebody raided Melba's place and the connection crashed. I had been asked on occasion to fill in when somebody had to take a break and wouldn't be able to come in to work.

    At this point Toots Thielemans was working there -- (and Brownie McGee...
    I do not notice in the above material that John Lennon paid him a visit, possibly Hamburg, when Toots was doing the lunch crowd music. I was a great fan of Django Reinhardt. Lennon incorporated Thielemans' influence into the Beatles.

    John Cage performed "Prepared Piano" here. Students brought their music scores with them to follow as they listened.The Baroness de Rothschild came to hear Cage, which was the first time that I actually saw her. Usually she waited in the car outside of The Five Spot at closing time to whisk her composers back to Jersey.

    Pannonica now fell off her chair, having over indulged, and half a dozen gentlemen in her party quickly picked her up and put her back in place.

    The D'Lugoffs were extremely affable people more than willing to form a clacque of people with faces to which they were acquainted.

    It is hard to believe that now it costs a cover charge of $30 per set at these places for which $10 at The Five Spot taught us much you would never learn anywhere else; and that a CVS now stands where Art D'Lugoff's Village Gate once was.

  67. @Trippler

    My posts have all been marked for deletion.

  68. Deletions? Good Heavens, no!!

    A few personal anecdotes can enhance the discussion. For example, I just communicated with Peter Altschuler who is the son of Murray the K. He has not read Wilentz but feels that the failure to include a few notes on the role played by that famous DJ in promoting and popularizing Dylan's work is too marginalizing. I have to agree.

    In my letter to Peter I indicated that it was Murray Kaufman's radio show in which he discussed Dylan for over an hour was what made me a fan of his work. I am certain that many other New Yorkers can and will say the same. Kaufman was a Rock & Roll visionary. Wilentz erred by not discussing his crucial role in popularizing Dylan.

  69. That would indeed be a very serious ommission, trip. But, I think there will be a lot of ommissions in this book, making room for some very interesting additions, like this whole thing about Aaron Copland that starts off the book. Not sure where Wilentz wants us to take from this, other than to explain why Dylan was using Copland pieces as intros to his 2000 concerts. Hard to see how Dylan used Copland in any other way. Bob is a lyricist first and foremost. Plenty of more daring contemporary musicians who would have used Copland to inspire their work.

  70. Maddy, the trashbucket appears with everyone's comment. You can use it to delete your posts if you double up on them, or feel you want to rewrite them. I don't know how you found us, but you are welcome here only as long as you don't bring all that paranoia and excess baggage with you. We started fresh in this forum, hoping to avoid the kind of nonsense that made it impossible to post anything of value in the Am History forum at Melba. Keep on topic.

    If you feel the need to muse about things other than what the post is about, then drop your comments in the Meander posts that pop up from time to time. This is a reading group.

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  73. Actually, NYT, you are on topic as the play is mentioned in the first chapter of the book. But, I set up a new post for discussion if you want to add more on it.

  74. Enjoyed the photo trip you linked, trippler. Seems Wilentz doesn't really stick to a timeline in his book, and leaves out the 90s, which he regarded as a wasted decade. I don't recall Dylan doing much that was memorable in the 80s either. other than joining up with Harrison, Orbison, Petty and Lynne to create the shortlived Traveling Wilburys, which was fun but not very memorable either.

  75. Trippler
    Also enjoyed the "photo trip" through the decades, watching Dylan "age" with responsibility. (I hit the wrong lever/button the other day. Last night I got it in two seconds.) There is a certain amount of humor in the "choice" comments; such as his gaining a doctorate from Princeton which makes him equivalently equal to a certain lady novelist who was a girl from upstate New York with a thyroid problem which leaves her absolutely no resistance from writing novel, after novel, after novel, after coming to live in Princeton. Just in case you never realized that Bob Dylan was the equivalent of Joyce Carol Oates.
    This is probably to say that the segment of Todd Haynes, I'm not There, that I most enjoyed was the Robbie section about Dylan's home life when not on the road. Ledger did it straight, for what it is worth; that part of the performer's life which the backstage fans can not conceive of because it is they who are "never there".

  76. By the way, your link to Dinkytown, at the Univ.of Minnesota, correctly describes a dinky in the first option.

    The Dinky Station of Princeton is where you catch the dinky that takes you to the Princeton Junction commutter train arriving from New York and going on to Washington,D.C.

    Of course, where my mother was born, they call it a "funicular" which is pulled by a cable. In other words, a cable-car; but two cars counter-balance each other as one ascends while the other descends.

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  78. Ah Dinkytown!

    From old:

    to new:

    Yep. It has lost much of its old character just like Greenwich Village and Montague Street in downtown Brooklyn. But such is progress for better or worse.

  79. I just don't buy the attempt to link Dylan to Copland. These two worked at opposite ends of the folk music movement, and I don't imagine had any contact with each other. About all you can say they had in common is that they were trying to reach a broader audience with their music and succeeded.

    I suppose discussing the 30s and 40s folk movement is well trodden ground and Wilentz wanted to explore a new path, especially since Dylan was using Copland pieces as intros to his 2000 concerts. But, in my mind he framed the chapter all wrong, implying that there was a strong connection.

    I think Wilentz is on much more stable ground when it comes to the Beats, the 1964 Halloween Concert and the recording of Blonde on Blonde, one of rock music's quintessential albums. I have the Halloween concert, which was part of the Bootleg series. I would love to see a Bootleg release of an expanded Blonde and Blonde with some of the outtakes. The process Wilentz describes is amazing, and fits right in with the Beats.

  80. Here's another "chapter" Wilentz released independently of the book, entitled "The Making of Blonde on Blonde,"

  81. Interesting that Wilentz stresses the Dylan-Guthrie connection, when it was Pete Seeger who actively promoted young Bob and probably was more a musical influence on Dylan than Guthrie was. Guthrie would have been more a mythic figure with Dylan's only real exposure to him being through recordings. Seeger and Dylan went on tour together, including Greenwood, Mississippi, which Wilentz bypassed for some reason.

  82. Anthony Scaduto's biography of Dylan from way back when emphasized the influence of Woody Guthrie. I seem to remember Dylan visited a very ill Guthrie in a hospital somewhere near the end of Woodie's life. Can't remember if the Dylan/Guthrie meeting was one of the many personal fictions Dylan spun in his early years or if it actually took place.

  83. Wilentz mentions Dylan meeting Guthrie, who apparently was brought home on weekends. Apparently, Pete Seeger took Dylan along with home on one of his many visits. Guthrie's home had become a shrine of sorts, with many weekend visitors.

  84. I think musicians are just as likely to be influenced through recordings as they are through personal contact. It is impossible for me to listen to early Dylan and not hear the very heavy influence of Woody Guthrie. And influence might be too mild a word to describe how Dylan appropriated Woody wholesale. Listen to "Talking Fishing Blues" by Woody Guthrie, for instance, and then listen to Dylan's "Talking World War III Blues" and you can't help but notice they are one and the same, just the lyrics are different. There are many other examples.

  85. So who is the biggest influence in Dylan's life?

    Could it be the devil ?

  86. No doubt Guthrie made a very strong impression on him, and he borrowed liberally from Guthrie recordings, but when I think of "influence" I think of impact someone makes on your life, and who you model your life after, and it seems to me that Pete Seeger would have been a towering figure for young Bob at the time, and by most accounts he was. Yet, Wilentz gives their relationship little mention. I don't think he even notes the Greenwood Mississippi concert, except maybe in passing.

    Maybe Wilentz felt enough had been said on the subject and decided to explore other terrain. As the book unfolds, I see that the chapters more or less are based on those aspects of Dylan that made a very deep impression on Wilentz. I thought his chapter on Blind Willie McTell marvelous.

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  88. Wilentz does mention Guthrie joining Seeger on the Almanac Singers, and later working with Seeger on People's Songs. They were contemporaries. Guthrie is widely regarded as the most "authentic" as he came from the "Dust Bowl" experience, while Seeger is a New Yorker. But, I would say it is more Seeger's eclectic style that Dylan would adopt, not Guthrie's "working class blues." He more or less sampled Guthrie, the way he did many other earlier musicians, even though he briefly toyed with the persona of Guthrie as evidenced in the lead picture.

    The Copland references threw me for a loop, and reading more from the biography of Copland I linked, don't seem to be there. Wilentz returns to Copland several times, notably in referencing Dylan's soundtrack for the movie "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," and that Dylan may have drawn from the same account of Billy the Kid that Copland did. Interesting, but more like a game of "Six Degrees of Separation."

  89. I really have trouble with Seeger as an influence as you have no doubt figured out. He is a completely different kind of singer, song writer and performer. The connection with Guthrie is so much more apparent -- heck in addition to mimicking many of his musical styles, Dylan even adopted Woodie's dustbowl look.

  90. For a very brief period. As Wilentz points out, Dylan rather quickly shed this Guthrie persona for a more Beatnik one when he came in contact with Allen Ginsburg in 1963. When Dylan went electric in 1967, he drew boos from the "folkies" in concerts and by the time he experimented with glam rock in the mid 70s he pretty much lost his folk base. It seems that alot of persons still prefer to hold onto the image of Dylan as a latter-day Guthrie. He moved away from Seeger as well, but I think the way he dabbled in all sorts of musical genres was more in keeping with Seeger's world view of music than it was Guthrie.

  91. ... and he actually had contact with Seeger. All he ever witnessed was the shell of Woody Guthrie.

  92. "NYT Perdu said...
    Perhaps introducing Copland as an influence reflected a genuine connection Wilentz traced,..."
    I tend to think she is right. Perhaps Wilentz had not quite found the correct way to express what he clearly saw more readily than he could say.

    This leaves me wondering if I can find what I was originally writing to robertwhelan, re: how to visualize a sound or what does a motion (expressing a human emotion)sound like?

    It may be that Wilentz meant to parallel what we are taking for influence upon Dylan. More likely they were two musicians who composed in different styles but had the same nagging idea that they wanted to express. Perhaps Wilentz more clearly set up how his thesis begins by placing Copland on the one hand(as a "Modern" composer)with Guthrie and Seeger traditions of folk music in America on the other. Then Bob Dylan appears on the scene.

    I think that readily follows with the War Years of the Forties when Copland composed a commissioned ballet for Graham while Agnes de Mille uses another of his compositions, because of the factor that Americans were now feeling pretty proud of themselves in going to war when called upon to realize there was no other choice(albeit how it was originally put off).

    This is not a lot different than the inspiration that Dylan harbors of living on a frontier where you do what you have to do;even if you sometimes come off as "rebelling folk hero"(particularly so to the political group or whom you are critical; but, lyrically so).

    It is easier to simply say that he is continuing the socially conscious position of Guthrie, without being less of an American for it. That in a nutshell is why Wilentz parallels a classic Modernist such as Copland with traditionalist songster instrumentalists in the protest-mode.

  93. Meanwhile, at present:

    Bob Dylan
    Ft Lauderdale set list:

    Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
    It Ain't Me, Babe
    Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
    ...The Levee's Gonna Break
    Just Like A Woman
    Honest With Me
    Tryin' To Get To Heaven
    High Water (for Charlie Patton)
    Desolation Row
    Highway 61 Revisited
    Workingman's Blues #2
    Thunder On The Mountain
    Ballad Of A Thin Man
    Like A Rolling StoneSee More

  94. Dropped one here. Question, why does Dylan seek out Ginsberg,"What do two Jews argue about?"
    As Ginsberg says to Dylan, I am not interested in being your "mascot" while you are on the road.
    He had already gone through that bad feeling of just being an extra appendage in Kerouac's set, which is why I think that he gladly took off with Burroughs and Corso for Tangiers and Paris, and was not on 10th.Street when I lived next to the Polish Clinic on 9th.

    This is why: "One of Williams's most dynamic relationships as a mentor was with fellow New Jerseyite Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg claimed that Williams essentially freed his poetic voice. Williams included several of Ginsberg's letters in Paterson, stating that one of them helped inspire the fifth section of that work. Williams also wrote introductions to two of Ginsberg's books, including Howl."

    Which is why the "Community" stuck by Ginsberg and put up the defense money in the notorious obscenity trial of US vs Ginsberg. They were not about to see Allen become another Emma Goldman as a popular figure on the road doing speaking tours.

    William Carlos Williams was not just another "baby doctor" or even a doctor for an insurance company. If you check that above cite/site it is evident that he caroused with all the European Modernists who migrated from Paris to New York.

  95. I have been lost for days setting up a facebook account and lost track of the forum--I'll catcu up to you tomorrow. there have been 45 post since I left--so I'll need time to read them all. See you tomorrow

  96. I'm watching NTOCHKA with Fred Astaire. I can't resist Astaire movies

  97. In Part II, Wilentz recounts the Concert at the Philharmonic Hall in 1964, which trippler has already alluded to and the Making of Blonde on Blonde, regarded by many as Dylan's greatest album. Certainly his most daring. The acoustic Bob Dylan gave way to the Electric Bob Dylan and the folk scene would never be the same. Things got pretty crazy at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1966 when Dylan introduced his electric band, and some folkies never would forgive him for it.

  98. chronological listing & presentation of some of Dylan's gems:

  99. I bought every Dylan album up until and including the release of The Basement Tapes in 1975. After that not so much. Blonde on Blonde has some of Dylan's best material, but almost all of his albums in the Sixties and early Seventies are loaded with keepers. The albums that stand out for me and that vie for my personal Top Ten are as follows:

    1. Bringing It All Back Home
    2. The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
    3. Highway 61 Revisited
    4. Blonde on Blonde
    5. John Wesley Harding
    6. New Morning
    7. Blood on the Tracks
    8. Nashville Skyline
    9. The Times They Are A-Changin'
    10. Before the Flood

    There are no other bands/musicians other than the Stones and the Beatles who come close to matching that body of work.

  100. ''There are no other bands/musicians other than the Stones and the Beatles who come close to matching that body of work.''

    Both largely influenced by Dylan ~ this validates his work as art because he writes of universal themes which all can relate to.

  101. I'll look at Part III to refresh my memory tomorrow and then post more.

  102. There were a lot of crosscurrents in the 60s and that whole thing going out in San Francisco which eventually Dylan himself tried to tap into. The British Invasion not just in the Beatles and Stones, but in Cream, The Who and Led Zeppelin had a pretty strong influence on American music as well. They would re-introduce many young Americans to fully electrified Blues.

  103. It was interesting to read that both Dylan and Copland had Lithuanian ancestory. Those Litvaks really got around. Dylan was in Vilnius in 2008. We were in America at the time. Tough break.

  104. Brooklyn's Al Kooper:

    arranger & coordinator of talent on Dylan's studio work and Newport concerts

    Sure as heck I could have been there.

  105. Wilentz reported that in 1966 Dylan, in an act of anti-left rebellion, hoisted the American flag in a Paris concert. This on his 25th birthday.

    Throughout the book Dylan continually is reported to insist he is not a spokesman for any group or trend. This act, in an area hostile to American imperialism at that time would show that he was quite daring. Indeed, artists generally are.

    Does anyone have a video clip of this act?

  106. I think Dylan used the flag as a two-edged sword, showing that this was explicitly American music he would be playing, but at the same time shocking his Parisian audience. Later, Wilentz would say that Dylan seemed to like creating these "storms," standing at the eye of them as if nothing was going on around him. A latter-day Prospero and his songs.

  107. "Bob is much more disciplined as a writer of lyrics, as a poet. He's an absolute genius. As a singer - absolute genius. But musically, I think it’s a lot more basic. The music just tends to be a vehicle for that poetry."

    Trenchant comments by Mark Knopfler on the making of Infidels (1983). It seems Dylan relied on his musicians to cover for him, as evidenced on Wilentz's description of the making of Blonde on Blonde.

  108. Among some of Dylan's musical inspirations were the old minstrel shows where white performers sang in black face. But he turned this around by singing in white face!

    In the 70s there were a number of 'glam rock' artists such as David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop who wore makeup on stage. But usually it was highly ostentatious. Dylan's makeup was not glamourous as you can see from the photos.

  109. Seems we have bottomed out here. Probably more interesting to pick up on the thread that Wilentz establishes in regard to Dylan's song drawing from the "Great American Songbook," so to speak, reaching back into early 19th century gospel and turn of the century blues songs that reflected life in the Deep South. His turn to Christianity would also make for a good subject, although Wilentz chose not to talk too much about it.

  110. When you say, 'bottomed out' do you mean to say there are too many posts here already therefore making it difficult to follow?

    If so, I suppose that means it shows how much interest we have in this subject!


  111. "His turn to Christianity would also make for a good subject, although Wilentz chose not to talk too much about it".

    That's because apostasy is most usually frowned upon.

  112. Trippler,

    "white face" ala Jean Genet

  113. I suppose within the Jewish community it is, and on a broader plain I guess a lot of folks thought Dylan was above religion, but it seems that all that gospel music got to him, buried itself under his skin. He apparently has maintained his Christian faith since his conversion in the late 70s, although is much less vocal about it, according to Wilentz.

  114. After the initial outpouring, trip, things got pretty quiet in here, but glad to see things are perking up. I guess you can look at the "white face" as a hark back to the minstrely and vaudeville shows, which to some degree he tried to emulate in the Rolling Thunder Revue, or the French circuses as Wilentz notes, or The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, or just a nod to the glam rockers who were all the rage at the time. Interesting that he tried to lure Patti Smith on the tour. Seems he really wanted to create a circus on stage.

  115. Although I will always be a fan of Dylan's music, there isn't much to his life outside of the music that I find of interest. This is true of many artists I admire. In fact, it's the reason I seldom read biographies of artists, especially writers. To be sure, some artists have lives that compliment if not almost transcend their art, but many (most?) don't.

  116. I'm not so much looking for interesting life stories as insights into their creative processes, and Wilentz provides some interest insights. His chapters on how Dylan drew from mid 19th century hymn books, Civil War poetry and the "Blues" ballads of the turn-of-the-century are very interesting. It was also fascinating to read how he worked in the poetry of Rimbaud and others into his verses, to the point of being accused of "plagiarism" by some critics. What Wilentz succeeds in doing is placing Dylan in a cultural context, pretty much leaving his private life alone.

  117. ~ cultural context ~

    Very interesting!

    I am reminded of the extensive historical report on Blind Willie McTell - he was descended of slaves and was blind since birth. He did much wandering but was gifted as a musician and businessman. He was spiritually inclined though he performed music in sin houses. He was also enterprising in that he drew musical inspiration from other songsters of his era (as did Dylan later on).

    The reported interview and sequence with John Lomax was fascinating! McTell refused to speak out against racism knowing that he was financially dependent on white patrons. Yet, there was an undercurrent of disillusion with the rampant racism that existed in that time. He fell into obscurity but his musical inspiration lives on in Dylan and others.

  118. Blind Willie was still alive when I was very young. He had grown up in the twenties when the Klan reigned supreme anf he had to be very cicumspect on issues--soit was natural for hin to avoid comments on racism---one false remark could have cost him dearly--even to to the point of risking his personal safety.
    I remember he played a guitar and that when he played a piece, he never played it the same way twice. Is there a name for that style?

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  120. I remember the very early 1960s when my then-spouse was in the Methodist seminary in Dallas and I was doing some grad work and teaching freshmen. We lived in the married students' dorm - very spartan - and washed clothes at a nearby laundromat filled with racks of John Birch Society material which the proprietors urged on all their customers. We started collecting it with an eye toward writing some kind of paper, but the nutty activities of Gen. Edwin Walker (ret.) and our growing involvement in desegging the school beyond the seminary got in the way. Hard to believe that's 50 years ago. We had some fine times twitting the right wingers, but I am very glad I left there eventually. If you like personal horror stories, I have a good supply and think of them often in November. Nothing in Wilentz's interview to compare, although it was freaky enough.

  121. Blind Willie McTell is considered a Blues musician, robert, but it is a pretty broad category with many variants, as Wilentz points out.

    The parallels are intriguing, trip, but then there were many Blues men like Blind Willie, so Dylan pretty much had his pick. But, he probably liked the lyricism of Blind Willie best.

  122. @Trippler and robertwhelan
    For about two years between 1963 and 1965, when I organized a poetry reading schedule in a neighborhood coffee house for which a friend was the manager, he made a request; whether I would be up for attending to the arrivals of these particular old men he had booked for the coffee house.

    They would come up from Chicago, where they had recording sessions, moved in and out of the South Side community, possibly even maintained a residence there. They would arrive by train or by bus and then walk up the few blocks past the park on the Lake front, the tall apartment buildings overlooking the Lake, through a Waverly Place of Paladian mansions and choose between a block of Prospect Avenue or along the Farwell bus-line to the bookstore that I was already attending to as it was a vast barn of a main room with floor to ceiling books collected throughout the career of a teaching psychologist at the university.

    This had come about at another friend's request; a painter returning to the university for his Masters degree but who received his studio space, and living quarters in another large room behind the bookstore, contingent upon his maintaining the bookstore. Returning to school meant he would not be there to sell the occasional book and the various Underground News-papers with psychedelic illustrations imitating Peter Max. I cannot recall ever selling a book (maybe a newspaper) in the time that I tended the store. My son (who was not yet in Kindergarten was under the impression that he went to kindergarten at the University) would accompany me on the walk to the bookstore where there was a desk where I could write and several old couches for perusing books. My son would "do Art" (as our artist friends spoke of their occupation for the next twenty years).

    Adequately furnished in this way to receive guests, the old men of music would arrive with their guitar cases in hand which they would open up and proceed to tune up and warm up for their evening appearance. In those days, it was quite often a performance of bottle-neck guitar. My son was the very opposite of nonplussed while he listened and watched; after all, didn't his grandfather now and again play the washboard in the kitchen as he had in New Orleans as a boy. His grandmother of course played church piano. My father only thought he played church piano when what he actually played was barrel-house stride.

  123. ''Is there a name for that style? ''

    There probably is a term but for the life of me, I cannot remember what it is. Since many of those great Black musicians couldn't read music (or English for that matter) it is no surprise that so many songs had different endings.


    Hiway 61 & 49 is where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil. From wiki:

    ''Devil legend

    According to legend, as a young black man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi, Robert Johnson was branded with a burning desire to become a great blues musician. He was "instructed" to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar and tuned it. The "Devil" played a few songs and then returned the guitar to Johnson, giving him mastery of the instrument. This was, in effect, a deal with the Devil mirroring the legend of Faust. In exchange for his soul, Robert Johnson was able to create the blues for which he became famous.''

    Dylan's 61 revisited was inspired by all this.

  124. ... but Blind Willie McTell could read music, using braille songbooks,

  125. Oh, we're meetin' at the courthouse at eight o'clock tonight
    You just walk in the door and take the first turn to the right
    Be careful when you get there, we hate to be bereft
    But we're taking down the names of everybody turning left
    Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
    Here to save our country from a communistic plot
    Join the John Birch Society, help us fill the ranks
    To get this movement started we need lots of tools and cranks
    Now there's no one that we're certain the Kremlin doesn't touch
    We think that Westbrook Pegler doth protest a bit too much
    We only hail the hero from whom we got our name
    We're not sure what he did but he's our hero just the same
    Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
    Socialism is the ism dismalest of all
    Join the John Birch Society, there's so much to do
    Have you heard they're serving vodka at the WCTU?
    Well you've heard about the agents that we've already named
    Well MPA has agents that are flauntedly unashamed
    We're after Rosie Clooney, we've gotten Pinkie Lee
    And the day we get Red Skelton won't that be a victory
    Oh we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
    Norman Vincent Peale may think he's kidding us along

    [ From: ]

    But the John Birch Society knows he spilled the beans
    He keeps on preaching brotherhood, but we know what he means
    We'll teach you how to

  126. Above are some of the lyrics of the Chad Mitchell Trio paradoy of the John Birch Society

  127. I note a post saying the John Birch Society was the precursor to the Tea Party....I disagree. need to finish an artice on the Tea Party (Rolling Stone article in the current issue) Then I'll give you a clearer picttue. Sufficite to say that there is a more direct line to the Post war consevative movement circa the late 1940 and early 1950's and associated with the old Southern Democratic Party overlapped with the Anti-Communist Crusade of the early 50's (Schwartz's ANTI COMMUNIST CRISTIAN CRUSADE. I'll post more tomorrow and try not to get too far afield---Dylan did a take off of the Chad Mitchell Trio much later on...have a good evening.

  128. This comment has been removed by the author.

  129. Thumbing thru ''The Mayor of MacDougal Street'' by Dave van Ronk ~~

    His comments about Dylan were not entirely flattering. He did acknowledge that BD was exceptionally talented and that he had a charisma that naturally attracted people. But also that he was given to telling little white lies and creating myths about himself that were a bit difficult to believe. Dylan, for example, withheld the fact that he was Jewish and that he came from a privileged background unlike so many wannabe stars in NYC. When he became a star he gave unwanted advice to others about how to achieve the same ~ but this was not entirely appreciated as it was viewed to some extent that his success was largely based on his selling out to commercial interests and thru swiping songs that were not his. As NYers and hippy or non-conforming types, van Ronk and others would not compromise their views and their ways. They willingly forfeited commercial success so long as they could keep producing music from the heart rather than with the big royalty checks in mind, unlike BD.

    I thought the story of 'House of the Rising Sun' to be amusing: van Ronk wrote it but Dylan enjoyed success with it. Fans asked van Ronk to sing ''Dylan's song'' and he got tired of BD getting credited for doing a song that he did not write. Then when the British group the Animals got a big hit out of it, Dylan was asked to sing the ''Animal's Song''. And he got sick of them getting credited for a song that he popularized! Again, the great irony being that he did not write it in the first place.

    Late in the book, van Ronk acknowledged that Dylan was responsible for popularizing folk or protest music. That because of BD's work, many people like Peter, Paul, and Mary, van Ronk, Phil Ochs, and others became successes. Moreover, he acknowledged that it was Dylan's right to enjoy artistic freedom to take his music in whatever direction he decided upon. Those are the sentiments of a true artist. And this proves that both Dylan and van Ronk fit that category quite well.

  130. I think of van Ronk more as the true artist. Not to deny Dylan's exceptional gifts, but as Rick noted upstream, after his outpouring in the 60s, culminating in Blonde on Blonde, there was a pretty sharp decline in the quality of his work overall. I think in large part because he "sold out" to commercial interests, changing with the times, rather than sticking with a clear vision. This was most evident in his conversion to Christianity in the late 70s, which led to 3 "Christian" albums with a whole lot of preachy lyrics that left his fans wondering what the hell was going on. Infidels marked a "return," partially anyway, to his earlier music with Blind Willie McTell coming out of these sessions. He continued to produce, but it was hit and miss from here on out.

    Of course, one could say this was the nature of the times. After Nixon nothing would be the same. Hunter Thompson beautifully evoked the feeling of withdrawal, or the receding wave of the 60s, in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," coming off one of his notorious binges in a Las Vegas hotel room.

    Dylan has now become an icon, but who really remembers his work after the 60s? He has become frozen in time.

  131. One thing this discussion has me doing is listening to Dylan's music while commuting from home to work and back.

  132. It was a very pleasant surprise to hear Visions of Johanna in the supermarket this morning.

  133. The Wilentz article on the conservative connections to the John Birch Society is in the October 18 issue of the NEW YORKER. I'll read it tonight--but with all due respect, the Birch Society arose after and probably in part as a respone to the Christian Anti Communist Crusade. I'll read the article and post more afterward. The connections here go back to the Forties--not the fifties or sixties.

  134. @Trippler Oct.14,6:26AM
    ...Devil Legend

    I might as well take this up to start with, that weren't no Devil. That was Papa Legba.

    Although I read this or think I did last night before posting, on re-read in order to find my place, I notice how the Johnson legend has been distorted. I think most African-American musicians knew about this tradition. It is when it gets passed to folks that we get terribly lost and probably don't make it to Dockery Plantation, Mississippi. It is a little like Dylan changing religions in mid-stream. You got to wade in the water....

    Rastafarians do you know, producing traditionalists like Marley. Haitians who came on the second wave of the Slave Revolt to New Orleans added another layer atop the original arrivals of slave transport from Africa two centuries earlier at New Orleans where plantations cluster close up to the walls of the Vieux Carre and some on the other side of the River at Algiers Parish. African religion in New Orleans and Haiti is Voodoun frosted with a layer of Roman Catholicism. There is a belief in water-spirits as a connection to the world of the departed which still exists in Orthodox Judaism but in practice of African-Christianity still is immersion baptism. Thus, Erzulie Freda, sometimes depicted with a mermaid's tail in Haitian art,is more simply on a voudoo alter represented by the Virgin Mary. (sometimes standing on the crescent moon, accompanied by stars equated with Venus)

    Legba, however, is Saturnine,representative of an old priest in Africa; in the Deep South,but also throughout the US in the modern era: an itinerant Preacher,who travels a circuit, as does the circuit judge in a custom inherited from France.

    Where would one find him in the dark of night? Why looking for the markers at the crossroads to be sure he was on his way in the correct direction. And that is where you can meet him to make your request. Unfortunately as you move into adjacent States, today, you have crossed into English settlements and language and beliefs. So that the devil is more readily spoken about. Unfortunately as I realized early in life, via convent school in fact, the crossroads in British tradition is also where highwaymen are hung. Tantamount to saying, let them go to the Devil.

    "Dylan's 61 revisited was inspired by all this." Tacitly, not only did musicians go South with political purpose but it provided the occasion to trade song renditions and pick up unheard of song-stories.

  135. @NYT Perdu
    I rather wistfully recall when Wm. F. Buckley represented the far right. Sigh...
    October 14, 2010 6:20 PM

    My feelings exactly

  136. You can spin such legends anyway you want, but this is one largely created after Johnson's death by those who sought to immortalize him. His major influences were more prosaic -- Son House and Willie Brown. Because he was such an enigmatic figure, much like Buddy Bolden (of whom even less is known), these legends persist.

  137. Back to Trippler at 8:36PM Oct.14th.
    "I thought the story of 'House of the Rising Sun' to be amusing: van Ronk wrote it but Dylan enjoyed success with it."

    I'd question that and below I have posted an out of the way site but you have to read it very carefully from top to bottom to get at how mean people can be when it comes to matters of success and profit.

    For instance, we've already heard when Dylan broke it off with Baez, however she performed and recorded the song prior to his rendition about a year following.

    When we get to the New Orleans investigative, exploratory historians, we uncover a lot of buried occupational data, and I would go along with the remarks on Gambling. Since, when curiosity got the better of me, as I've told Desdemona in the past comparing notes on fun in the Quarter, I always found it interesting that when in the evening passing the hotel for professional gambling men who traveled from everywhere to play each other at this residential hotel closer to the Canal Street entrance of the French Quarter,the door was always open and a light burning in the foyer. It was meant to be welcoming. But if you had any sense you stayed on your side of the street and kept on walking, faster.

    Des and I compared what it means to be a teen-ager in the Crescent City, compared to Grace Zabriskie, whose father owned John Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop about two blocks down the street from the corner where I lived on Ursuline. Grace twisted her father's arm who allowed her then to read her poetry to his customers in the bar. We talked of all this when inspired by the short story that became a movie:The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  138. This other remark was kind of funny,Trippler,
    " Dylan, for example, withheld the fact that he was Jewish and that he came from a privileged background" Sorry but...

    in New York that would be kind of obvious. He was readily identifiable as just another Schul scholar.

    I thought in fact on your Hibbing pilgrimage that you or the article mentioned re: the house that had been sold when his mother passed away, that his father had an accident that left him with one leg. Which I would have to suggest possibly left the family home less privileged before Bob succeeded. But who knows?

  139. robertwhelan,
    Thanks for bringing my attention to The New Yorker article for Oct.18th.

  140. Ps. I detested the John Birch society too. Understanding what they were doing to influence the bowdlerizing of books that otherwise outright vanished as local authorities copied their example as suggested. I wrote my first letter to the editor on that topic.
    Or, maybe it was the one about closing coffee-houses that probably slipped alcohol into the cups because the proprietors were Italian?

    If it wasn't the one protesting the local municipal theatrical director was editing his production of Shakespeare by cutting out anything the locals might object to?

    I believed that Steven Allen was right about everything and that Ernie Kovaks meant well.

  141. I just finished the Wilentz article, and while it took a different road than I would have, it is an excellent exposition of the Birch Society and Glen Beck. I'd love to examine Conservatism back to the forties. That would be inappropriate in this forum. Gintara opened a window on the Birch Society. I might post something there--but please read the Wilentz article--its excellent asfar as it goes.

  142. ''in New York that would be kind of obvious''

    Generally, yes. But not in this case as most who hung out with van Ronk and Dylan were non-New Yorkers. His midwestern accent was nowhere like the Jewish accent folks use in NYC so that it is easier to hide his identity if in fact he did so.

    When I hung out in the Village (mid 70s-80s) half the folks there were also from out of town. It's kinda easy to make up myths about yourself when no one can readily identify your background. And, I suppose myth making is a part of an artist's life.

  143. This comment has been removed by the author.

  144. Dylan engaged in a lot of personal myth-making. I think it was in No Direction Home that it was said he "disappeared" for a year and "returned" with a much more personal style after initially offering little more than covers. Essentially, he reinvented himself by the time he got to the Village, apparently not having made that deep an impression on the folks in Dinkytown.

  145. I would like to keep talk of the Birchers and other non-related subjects out of this particular post, as it tends to dilute the topic. Dylan is fascinating enough in his own right, without dragging all this stuff into the discussion.

    I set up a post for the JBS, and if you would like to introduce other topics please feel free to create a post separate from this discussion.

    Thank you.

  146. Wilentz focuses mostly on Dylan's creative process. The majority of the chapters concern specific concerts, albums and songs, providing fascinating insights into these events.

    After his initial folk-styled albums, Dylan wanted to create a large sound to back his poetry. He no longer seemed content just playing rhythm guitar. He came across Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, who would later be known simply as The Band, and also enlisted the services of Al Kooper and the Blues Project on Highway 61 Revisited, and combined the two on Blonde on Blonde.

    Never fully satisfied, Dylan decided to get a more twangy sound out of Blonde on Blonde and finished up the project in Nashville, enlisting the support of some fine Nashville session performers.

    Dylan composed the pieces to some degree but it seems much of the compositional work was done by his band members. He apparently relied heavily on Al Kooper and Robbie Robertson on Blonde on Blonde.

    I really enjoyed this chapter, because it gave one of the fullest insights into Dylan's unique recording process,

  147. It was interesting that Wilentz chose to pretty much bypass Nashville Skyline, Dylan's only collaborative work with Johnny Cash. Cash had defended Dylan when others were saying he was straying too far from his folk "roots." In Nashville Skyline, Dylan did amost a "pure" country album with classic songs like "Lay Lady Lay" and "Girl From the North Country." Also worth noting that Charlie Daniels appeared on this album.

  148. I seem to remember that those Nashville session musicians couldn't stand Dylan because his musical knowledge left a lot to be desired. Nashville Cats are slick.

  149. Not according to Wilentz. They were initially put off by the countless takes as Dylan struggled to get his 9 and 10 minute songs to come together. They were session musicians and used to quick 3 minute cuts planned out in advance. But, as the songs took shape the session players were notably impressed, among whom was Joe South. Read the article I linked, which is pretty much the same as the chapter in the book.

  150. I had forgotten that Dylan had done "Love Sick" (from Time Out of Mind),

    for Victoria's Secret. He shared the stage with Adriana Lima. Talk about "Beauty and the Beast!" Surprisingly, Wilentz makes no mention of this. VS cut an EP that included this song along with a few of his classics.

  151. I knew I remembered some issue with the session musicians. That's what I get for trying to recall on the fly something I read over twenty years ago.

  152. IMO, Dave Van Ronk, who was a darlin' man the one time I met him, wanted to be a big star. Every performer wants to be a big star; those who don't make it sometimes get a niche going for themselves, but any of them pretty much would give it up for the money, the recognition, the opportunity to do a lot of things they otherwise couldn't do. Nothing but human, nothing wrong.

  153. Nothing wrong with making a little money, but did Dylan need to do an EP for Victoria's Secret? Or, join in that awful session of "We Are the World?" The Folkies felt he sold his soul to commercialism long before. I think mostly Dylan liked being the center of attention, no matter what kind of attention. Of course, easy to forgive him for it, given his body of work.

  154. (With apologies for digressions and dilutions, am removing previous off topic posts, thanks for the tolerance.)

  155. In the face of other sins in the world, Dylan's seems quite small. since as far as I know, none of us is privy to how he spends his money, perhaps he did something wonderful with what he got from Victoria's Secret. And whatever any of us may individually or collectively think about the artistic merits of "We Are the World," it seems to have stirred some souls to good. If I have a cvil with him it's that his influence has sometimes sidetracked Sean Wilentz from a career as a serious journalist.

    Having said all that, I'm taking a leaf from nyperdu's book and will remove a couple of only very tangentially related posts, assuming I can do it from here.

  156. In the 80s Dylan continued to enjoy commercial success though he was no longer the musical influence he used to be. Interestingly, his charitable work was said to have inspired Willie Nelson to do the Farmer's Aid concert shows. His work with the Taveling Wilbury's produced three albums which also enjoyed commercial success. After he left that group, he received a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 1991.

    As for me, by this time I stopped listening to his music and am not at all familiar with his work from that era. Some day I will have to listen to his albums and watch videos of his concerts. Aside from 'You Gotta Serve somebody', I cannot recall offhand any of his songs. But then I am a nostalgia buff and haven't paid much attention to recent music from many others as well. But that tells you more about me, not about Dylan or anyone else. ;)

  157. Tripp October 15, 2010 4:26 PM

    " It's kinda easy to make up myths about yourself when no one can readily identify..."

    In those days, they kinda made up myths about you so that you would barely recognize yourself. It had something to do with being New Faces. Oddly enough, the Village has always been a community and people tend to get settled in and not wander far beyond the boundaries. But, they are all new to you, as a new arrival. If they fixate on you,as to how and whom you are connected with, the stories get pretty wild. However, this goes nowhere. The only way that gossip travels, not oddly at all,is with those who most travel and that is the esoteric world of the jazz musician.

    "His midwestern accent was nowhere like the Jewish accent folks use in NYC so that it is easier to hide his identity if in fact he did so."
    I think it is kind of hard to tell if Dylan had a Midwestern accent, as he affected tonalities that he picked up along the way going South and coming back,just to use them to folksy up his renditions. I think that was pretty obvious.

    I also think that the people who have New York Jewish accents, please, never forget I lived within walking distance to 2nd.Avenue, the Delicatessen mile supreme, in other words, I was a tenant of the Lower East Side,who learned to work in the even further south "Lower East Side" which was an eye-opener just arriving there when I went to work at the neighborhood Jewish Community Center. By comparison, 2nd Avenue would be considered glamorous, a cultural center of some import. It was the home of the Yiddish Theater. As far as "delicatessen. I liked Ratners but, then again,you might run into Woody Allen in his favorite deli. Or,numerous tv comedians who gravitated there to knosh, because after all the Yiddish theatre,and then the Burlesque had been the roots of their shtick, their stand-up comedy.

    By comparison, the really "lower East Side", was Poland, Russia. It came along with them.
    Not that my neighborhood between 2nd and 3rd was "clean". 3rd Avenue was the home of Polish butcher shops, one right next to each other. They were "Kosher" but, for someone who is not used to it,hardly clean.

    What I am getting at here, is that people did not stay, if they could help it. When my great-aunt's husband arrived in same neighborhood as an immigrant, he was readily accepted by the local Jews in this neighborhood because they were used to the idea in a way that we are not at present; because their history went back into the Middle East, as Sephardim who were forced to migrate West in Eurasia.

    Having fought for the British,Uncle Harry arrived following The War to End All Wars but then immediately found a way to get to Chicago and to spend the Twenties there.

    This was not uncommon. Most of the Jews whom I have known in my Midwestern home-town got there by coming from New York and, true, although their dialect changed (primarily because Western European urban Jews were gradually forced to accept Eastern European shtetl Jews with whom they felt that they had nothing in common) their own accent was not something forgotten but something readily recognizable in other Jews. Thus, when Bob Zimmerman arrived in Lower Manhattan as Bob Dylan, he was not of foreign attributes. I think we made that pretty plain by discussing Ginsberg or even the owners of the 8th.St.Book-Store. He got along (and, no doubt,he got a lot of help).

  158. Trippler,
    I just had a novel experience, in reply to your post of the 15th re: myths people make up about you when you arrive in the Village as compared to myths Dylan could have but would he,etc.

    Plus a whole packet of info on how you get your Jewish accent in the first place.

    When I put the preview up to post, they wanted my Girl Scout Badge Number, and if I had been a Google member before which I just happen to have been, then I should enter that information (but now that I think about it, I entered my current and have always had e-mail address and not the rearranged but similar Google form of it plus my Google password. Therefore, my entire well-worked post disappeared when I moved it from Preview to Post. Gone. It is driving me crazy. I have had this happen twice in one week in two different places.

  159. No, actually my post is up there above the latest. They just didn't tell me they had decided to put it up after it apparently had seemed to disappear from my computer-end of the exchange! Thank God, as I would not have the heart ot attempt to repeat that again.

  160. No need to remove posts. The recent comments updates allow you to come in at the tail end of the discussion, and pick up the thread.

    I think one of the problems in doing a reading of a contemporary figure or event is that we tend to get easily sidetracked, as I did as well on the VS thing. Just thought it was funny.

  161. Getting back to the book, Wilentz explores Dylan's fascination with the Civil War and 19th century sacral music in the closing chapters. He notes that Dylan had drawn on Henry Timrod for inspiration long before the controversial Modern Times album, which apparently took some quotes verbatim from Timrod's poetry and some even thought the title was a scrambling of Timrod's name, even if the letters don't quite add up.

    Dylan is apparently quite a Civil War buff and has also drawn on Whitman's Drum Taps and Melville's Civil War poetry. Does this make him a plagiarist? Wilentz effectively argues not, as Dylan more often adapted lines of verse to the rhythms of his songs, resulting in some remarkably evocative passages.

    The sacral music angle was probably the most interesting, as Dylan mines such hymn books as The Sacred Harp for his songs,

    apparently remaining devout to his adopted Christian faith.

  162. ~ affected tonalities ~

    and his use of the word 'man' as hipsters did in that era - all signs of a true artist

    In my days of hanging out in the Village you just didn't ask which parts people came from. It's quite easy to keep secrets when nobody knows who you really are. In a big city like NY, it's even easier to do so.

    Not to get unnecessarily off track but does anyone remember the 1970s story of the ''Minnesota Strip''?

    A movie was made about that as well. Evidently, NYC has been a haven for refugees from the Gopher state for a long time.

  163. At one time or another, it seems just about everyone tries his or her luck in NYC. All though, LA would be a close second.

  164. ''Sacred Harp''

    Once again, the fact that Dylan draws so much musical inspiration from such a wide list of resources proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is a true artist.

  165. He certainly is well read and well versed. He has a passion for Robert Burns as well. Can't go wrong there.

    Although Dylan often didn't reference his sources, I think he honestly wanted to draw attention to them, not away from them. He apparently says as much in Chronicles, which I haven't read yet.

  166. Just a bit more on myth making & hiding one's true identity in that era:

    Wilentz identified Sue Rotolo as BD's sweetheart during his Greenwich Village days. She wrote about him hiding his past and identity in the Village:

    ''Bob's parents were ordinary in a way he was not. He didn't feel he came from the right place considering how he felt about himself in the world.

    Quite a few of the folk musicians playing in the Village had grown up in the suburbs in middle class families and didn't advertise it ... they were not talking about their background anymore than he was ... I didn't feel like talking about my family, either. Those were the times; everyone was busy reinventing his or her wheels. Family was baggage.''

    from ''A Free Wheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties''

    p 250

  167. Trippler
    " NYC has been a haven for refugees from the Gopher state for a long time."

    And vice-versa. The funniest story, although not so funny was about Charles Lindbergh's father who was an embezzler in Scandinavia, and purposefully picked out a place like Minnesota which was under-settled and rough, rawly cold, so he could hide out and start over, despite the fact that lots of people there were Scandinavians. He too was native to Scandinavia, although the embezzlement may have taken place in a German bank.(That is why the later variation on a theme was almost embarrassing when you read something like Ludwig Kennedy's,The Airman and the Carpenter.)

    The senior Lindbergh later went into American politics, writing about economic and monetary policy, sometimes lecturing Congress. You don't get a whiff of this in reading the extensive literature on the Lindbergh kidnapping. And everything seems very much of the moment,as they experienced their era. Until quite recently. Following the death of Ann Morrow Lindbergh, we discovered in the news or gossip columns that Charles Lindbergh reverted to a secret life in Germany anyway; as if his father had bequeathed that to him.

    Bobby Zimmerman,aka Dylan, on the other hand seemed to have lived a Suburban Minnesota life
    much like everyone else who found themselves in the suburbs of the 1940s and the Fifties. Until he traveled.

  168. Trip, that's another reason I thought Dylan was closer to Pete Seeger than Woody Guthrie. Seeger also came from a middle-class background but adopted a workingman's lifestyle. Guthrie was the real deal. I suppose it was more appealing for Dylan to think of himself as the next Woody Guthrie, but it was Seeger who gave him entry into the folk movement, and oddly enough Wilentz bypasses this almost entirely.

  169. Funny thing is, I left New York and moved to Minnesota many moons ago. I've been told the Gopher state has never been the same since I came here.

  170. ''Dylan often didn't reference his sources''

    One is compelled to wonder just how many hours he spent at the mammoth 42d Street library to research all those Civil War, minstrel show, old church a cappella music, and blues sources. From personal experience I know how time consuming it is to first find where to get info, then to get those librarians to access it, and then to run it thru the monitor screen in order to see the info you are looking for.

    Not to get untracked here (there I go again) ~ did anyone see the ''60 Minutes'' presentation on the Market Street, San Francisco video?

    The researcher researched certain points made and it was painstaking work to say the least. Just imagine what Dylan went through in order to get his work done!

  171. I think Wilentz noted that Dylan confessed to Joni Mitchell that he jotted down verses and passages in his notebooks, rarely noting his sources. This apparently served as fodder for Joni's allegations that Dylan is "a fake and a plagiarist,"

    I guess he might have cribbed a few of her verses along the way, I don't know, but I don't imagine she is above lifting a line here and there.

  172. I'm still loookin' in.

    I don't think Dylan's behavior was plagerism....thouh he might have not noted sources, most of the notes involved stuff erll in the public domain----but I sense no effort to deceiveanybody or to claim original authorship. I probably way off legally, but I see no ethical problem---does anyone else. Does anyone have any page references to this behavior so I can get the hard copy and get a sense of thing again? I lost tract over the past week.

  173. ''I see no ethical problem---does anyone else. ''

    I did not read all of Dave van Ronk's book but even he said that Dylan was within his rights to cheat just a bit in the interest of art.

    Heck, over the years I made suggestions that were adopted at work and my managers got all the credit for the way things were now being done. It's just a fact of life ~ sometimes others get the credit for the work you do. That's life. So while we often say in Brooklyn, ''sh1t happens and then you die'', we still go forward remembering NYS's motto which is,


    which means, 'go forward ~ ever higher!'

    Such is life.

  174. Joni Mitchell's comments make me think she had been doing some drinking. It is also worth noting that she suffers from Morgellons disease, which has been described as delusional parasitosis. Not sure if Joni is all there, if she ever was. But she made some pretty good music in her day.


    and there are plenty more on you tube

  176. Wilentz indicates that Dylan's later albums got much praise though the sales were not as generous as his earlier work. I have checked some of his later works on youtube but cannot develop any interest in the musical direction he took later on in life - perhaps this is because his lyricism is too metaphysical or too unclear for a simple minded guy like me. However, I see that his series on MTV is readily available online and will check that out some day soon.

    There's no question that BD is a major influence upon the world of entertainment. He definitely was a product of the 40s and 50s but his artistic direction evolved with the next two decades - a direction that exerted a great influence upon too many to name here. To this day his influence can be found on radio, TV, and in society in general. Many today are benefiting from his great charity work and many songsters profited from the popularity he generated for their work. The world is a greater place for having Dylan. Long after we are all gone his influence will live on.

  177. I thought Modern Times was pretty good, but there is no sense of urgency anymore. Like Clapton, Dylan seems to enjoy reshaping old music to suit his taste. Still, I enjoy it. As Wilentz noted, he seemed to rediscover his voice. There was a point where it was virtually impossible to listen to him, he sounded so bad.

    But, he remains a force in the music industry. The concert schedule he keeps up is amazing, both at home and abroad. He really seems to enjoy taking his show on the road, offering different song lists so as not to grow stale. A Rolling Stone gathers no moss.

  178. ''Red Channels''

    This right wing publication's revelations led to black listing of Pete Seeger & Weavers who inspired BD.

    Tonight, I'm listening to a nostalgia radio show (Steve Darnall's 'Those Were the Days') which features beautiful Marsha Hunt. She was included in that publication and said to be a subversive because of her activity in defense of the poor and oppressed. You may read about this lovely lady here:

  179. more on 'Red Channels' and the Red Scare:

  180. Carol about ten days ago,
    "...his influence[Dylan's] has sometimes sidetracked Sean Wilentz from a career as a serious journalist."

    as Gintaras posted on
    October 17, 2010 11:24 PM
    "Getting back to the book, Wilentz explores Dylan's fascination with the Civil War and 19th century sacral music in the closing chapters."

    Quite naturally Wilentz would because he is an Historian on faculty at Princeton. In fact will be teaching this course from the book's topic: Bob Dylan in America. I can entertain the idea that possibly "a career as a serious journalist" side-tracked by Dylan, only in the sense that Wilentz put his nose in as close as he comfortably could to observe and learn what ought to go into this course as a permanent record in the current age where the communication is so rapid that syncretic notions not only coalesce but tend to congeal into putative facts.

    It is not odd however for departments on campus to veer toward each other, other's field of interest. while quite often unaware of doing so, not with ambitions of some grand symposium but, because they do succeed as popular journalists assaying subjects that interest them. One who often likes to travel and investigate his source material in some geographic location ( as often as from research quotable of other interesting authors surveying a specific subject )is John McPhee,"an American Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, widely considered one of the pioneers of narrative nonfiction" (or,"literary journalism"),whose "writing career began at Time magazine" . I am quoting some of his publishers' descriptions of him.

  181. Anyway, the last thing that I remember before today was a comment from Gintaras that a book which I had read,Positively Fourth Street (a title which I quoted as an opening to posting here), had been reviewed by Janet Maslin; so, I went in search of her review and then fell down the rabbit hole when her bar-link opened not upon Dylan whom she doesn't seem the least bit interested in now since she was instead reviewing the Memoirs of another guitarist. You know, some also-ran known as Keef Richards.

    At least, I think that's what happened to me over the weekend and up until now; since my niece whose favorite beach walk in her neighborhood is usually passing by where Johnny Depp is having a shooting of an episode for, Pirates of the Caribbean, which are always done in Hawaii. Kiana then manages to add beautiful photographic stills to her memory book but never is available off from a work day when casting is actually taking place no matter how she happens to have caught Johnny's attention. Anyway this usually causes a flurry of new head shots(or more) of glamour poses for her portfolio.

    I thought she'd be interested in the stories being passed along after posting, re: the fact that Keith Richards has a son who used to bring home Johnny Depp so often that Keef began to wonder and finally decided that guy must be the kid's drug-connection; as he had otherwise no idea where he'd seen his son's friend before?

    Finally, one day at breakfast,Keef's eyes sort of lit up a bit and he just looked up a moment and said, "Scissorshands". Then he nodded,satisfied that he had solved that conundrum.

    What he did not know at the time, and somebody else explained, was that Depp was studying him closely, having decided that he would base his Pirate character on Keith Richard's appearance, his makeup, the way he moved,even something of how he talked.

    Kiana found this fascinating(if you do not) because she is going to do a movie, and if not cast in the latest Depp does Caribbean in Hawaii on a back-bay, it is something involving many local Hawaiian-Japanese as a company like those she takes acting lessons with when she is not busy working at the hospital where Barack Obama was born (starts with a K, the name of the college hospital but I never remember not to forget it).

    Apologies to the assembled posting readers. I will now get back to reading Trippler's posts.