Mittwoch, 25. April 2012

Due to the recent seizure of by the FBI, most of my (legal) files  (under EU law where this blog originates and in accordance with the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107) are no longer accessible.

I feel that the U.S. Government/the FBI is TOTALLY ABUSING its powers by negating CITIZENS OF FOREIGN COUNTRIES the right to use a LEGAL SERVICE THEY HAVE PAID FOR!!!!

I have heard that EF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is helping to get U.S. users to get their legally stored Megaupload files back (if they're still on the servers) -- but what about international users?

Is there any way to sue the FBI for not allowing me to use a (legal) service I have paid for, with hard-earned money?

Freitag, 25. November 2011

Riverside Church, New York, NY, July 29, 1961 -- includes Robert Shelton review, New York Times, July 31, 1961, mentioning Bob Dylan

Recently, I came across two CDs of amateur recordings from the July 29, 1961 "Saturday of Folk Music", broadcast on WRVR, New York, NY.

Whoever had the foresight to record this for posterity, did it with amateur equipment off the air -- there is a fair amount of interference and the reel-to-reel recording was stopped, whenever the taper seemed not to be interested in an artist. Upon restarting, the beginning of songs are cut frequently, as the taper did not manage to push the button on time -- so, quite a few songs are fragments only.

Moreover, this is from a tape labeled "Part 2" -- other tapes have not been located so far, although they might exist, based on the following clue from my detective bag:

-- The performance of a yet unsigned Bob Dylan from that date (featuring Danny Kalb and Ramblin' Jack Elliott) is NOT part of the tape labeled "Part 2" (as Dylan's performance is in circulation for quite a long time, there could be other tapes including his performance and that of others somewhere).

I have no idea, unfortunately, about the sequence of performers during this 12-hour marathon, but have included (unsigned) Bob Dylan's performance for the sake of (temporary) completeness.

Kick back, relax, and enjoy a certainly less-than-perfect historical audio document of an event half a century ago, where Suze Rotolo started flirting with Bob Dylan and where Bob might have first met Len Kunstadt and Victoria Spivey, leading to his recording session with Victoria and Big Joe Williams....

For your convenience, I have transcribed Robert Shelton's review of this event (New York Times, July 31, 1961):

WRVR-FM Program Marks Start of 'Live' Project

A marathon program of folk music was run on Saturday to initiate the live music project of the city's newest FM radio outlet. Aside from a few pauses to identify station WRVR, the sound of ballads, blues, banjos and bouzoukis was heard from 9 A. M. to 9 P. M.

From noon on, the "festival" was held in the theatre of Riverside Church before a vociferously appreciative audience. The co-producers, Israel G. Young and Bob Yellin, rounded up more than fifty volunteer performers, of whom only a handful fell below a general high level of competence. No one was paid for his efforts, but the success of the program may serve to remind commercial radio and television stations that there is a largely untapped reservoir of zealous city folk musicians ready, willing and able to perform.

Although there were enough lapsv [SIC] of broadcasting practices during the day to gray a studio official's hair, the musical proceedings moved along with pace and variety and relatively few arid patches.

Commentary by Kunstadt

The segment on the blues, probably the day's best portion, was given shape by the commentary of Len Kunstadt, a jazz historian with a flair for aphorism and enthusiasm.

He introduced a series of singers—Bob Fox, Bruce Langhorne, Dave Van Ronk, the Rev. Gary Davis and Victoria Spivey —who touched on every aspect of the genre — traditional and commercial, sacred and profane, sad and even happy blues. Miss Spivey, whose recording career began in 1926, had as her accompanist on "St. Louis Blues" W, C. Handy Jr., son of the song's composer.
An exotic interlude of music from the Middle East was provided by local Greek and Turkish performers organized by J. R. Goddard and introduced by Cynthia Gooding in a section on foreign music. The Turkish songs of Saliha Tekneci were sinuous and haunting. The oud-playing of George Mgrdichian was dancingly rhythmic and tonally beautiful. And a taxim, a free improvisation on the bouzouki by Thomas Athanasiou, was inventive and pulsing.

The more-familiar banjo had its moments, too. Paul Cadwell is an old-school florid technician with a bag of virtuoso tricks, and John Cohen demonstrated traditional country styles. The flashy pyrotechnics of Scruggs-picking were offered by Roger Sprung, Marshall Brickman and Mr. Yellin.

Sandy Bull Performs

But it fell to a young music-J theory student, Sandy Bull, to really plumb the depths of creativity on the "primitive" folk instrument. Mr. Bull is equally at home in Southern mountain and blues styles, but his tonal richness, technical mastery and imagination excelled in his own explorative banjo transcriptions of a canon by William Byrd and Orff's"Carmina Burana," no less.

Among the newer promising talents deserving mention are a 20-year-old latter-day Guthrie disciple named Bob Dylan, with a curiously arresting mumbling, country-steeped manner;
John Wynn, a polished, poised tenor whose art-song approach to balladry was impressive; Tom Paxton, a Western singer with' an obvious potential as a songwriter, and Buddy Pendleton, a country fiddler of rare vintage.

It would be impossible to list every high point during the day, but some old friends did
have their innings. Among them were Logan English's tart topical song on the Washington Square ruckus and John Herald's alfalfa-flavored sacred, song, "We Need a Whole Lot, More of Jesus and a Lot Less Rock 'n' Roll."

The personable stage manner of Molly Scott, the hand-clapping gospel rousers of Brother John Sellers and Herman Stevens, and the antics of Rambling Jack Elliott were other pleasing moments.

There were few big-name performers to give glamour to the proceedings, but the talent
and exuberance of so many dedicated musicians made the day one to remember.



Ramblin' Jack Elliott
01  San Francisco Bay Blues
02  How Long Blues
03  Hard Traveling
04  Talking Fisherman
ß5  -I Belong to Glasgow
06  Cocaine

07     unknown Turkish singer  & 08 another unknown (??? - sounds like French) singer

John Wynn

09  Preamble
10  Man Is For The Woman Made
11  Let Me Go With You
12  Little Boy How Old Are You?
13  Low And Sweet

Herman Stevens of the Stevens Gospel Singers

14  He's Wonderful
15  He's Got The Whole World In His Hands

16   Station break

17   Bruce Langhorne 

Don't Take Everybody To Be Your Friend

18   Anne Bird

Anchored In Love
Anne Bird & Logan English

19  Sun's Gonna Shine In My Back Door Someday
20  Storms Are On The Ocean
21  Till I Return Again
22  Knoxville Girl

Logan English

23  Barbara Allen
24  Kitty Alone
25  Washington Square Music Permit Blues

John Herald & The Greenbriar Boys

26  Down The Road
27  Stewball
28  Instrumental
29  We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus And A Lot Less Rock And Roll 

Reverend Gary Davis

01  Salty Dog instrumental
02  Iinstrumental
03  Instrumental

Dave Van Ronk

04  Death Letter Blues
05  Green Green Rocky Road
06  Hoochie Coochie Man
07  Poor Lazarus

Victoria Spivey 
08  Introduction by Len Kunstadt
09  Satan Get Down Below
10  My Man Caught Me Wrong
11 Intro to Saint Louis Blues
12 Saint Louis Blues with W.C. Handy Jr.

Tom Paxton

13  Springhill Mine Disaster
14  Pepperfoot
15  The Train for Auschwitz
16  Sully's Pail
17  Going To The Zoo
18  John Birch Society
19  Pastures Of Plenty

Samstag, 5. November 2011

Rosanne Cash on her father's list of "100 Essential Songs" and Bob Dylan's "Girl From The North Country" (2009)

Rosanne Cash, in conversation with Daniel J. Levitin, WGBH, Boston, MA, on her father's (Johnny Cash's) list of "100 Essential Songs" and Dylan's "Girl From The North Country" (Oct. 21, 2009):

BDSM=Berlin Dylan Subway Massacre, early 1990s

An attempt at visualising what I perceive as a rather prevalent phenomenom -- why do buskers ALMOST ALWAYS have to use Bob Dylan songs to extort money from innocent subway passengers?

Inspired by an all too recent experience of that kind and a "New Yorker" cartoon, October 2010.

Freitag, 4. November 2011

Tom Paxton on Bob Dylan (2000)

Found this interesting passage about early Bob Dylan in Ken Paulson's
Tom Paxton interview of November 29, 2000:

Paxton: One night in Greenwich Village, there's a — there used to be a club called Gerde's Folk City. So, one night, Dave Van Ronk and I — apparently, we had already done our three songs apiece. And we were sitting there drinking beer, and this scruffy kid in a black corduroy cap — what they called a Huck Finn cap — and a, and a harmonica rack and a — I think a Gibson guitar got up and sang three Woody Guthrie songs. And both Dave and I, who were not easy, said, "Yeah, not bad. Ooh, this guy's all right." So, in next to no time, Bob Dylan was the most talked about, argued about artist in the Village. I mean, they were accusing him of being a Woody Guthrie clone, which was nonsense. He didn't sound like Woody Guthrie. Jack Elliott, in his early days, sounded much more like Woody than Bob ever did. But Bob had a tremendous repertoire of Woody Guthrie songs. He knew Woody Guthrie songs no one else knew. And perhaps Woody didn't write 'em. Perhaps Bob did, but who knows?

Paulson: Turned out to be a pretty fair writer. Do you recall your reaction to Dylan's first compositions?

Paxton: Oh, yeah. I liked his writing right from the beginning. And I have to tell you about one night. The Gaslight Cafe, where most of us worked, was on MacDougal Street. And it was down about eight steps. It was a cellar. It was a coffee house, no booze. And I — it was not a large place at all. Upstairs, on the first floor, in the back, there was a, a little apartment that the Gaslight rented or owned or something, just kind of a storage room. And we set up a table in there. We had this penny-ante poker game that was continuous. And my roommate at the time was a guy named Hugh Romney, who became, later, widely known in — as Wavy Gravy. And he was a poet, a beat poet. And he had this portable typewriter, or what we would call now a laptop typewriter, that he had left in this room for general use. And so, one night, I came in early for work, and Bob was in there tap, tap, tapping and had just finished this long poem. And he said, "What do you think of this?" So, I looked at this thing, and I said, "Well, this, you know, wild imagery, you know, what are you going to do with it?" And he said, "Well, I, I, I — ." I said, "Are you gonna, you know, put music to it?" He said, "What? You think I should?" I says, "Yeah, I mean, 'cause otherwise it's just something to go in some literary quarterly or something, but this way, you know, you'll have a song out of it." So, the next night — Bob never worked at the Gaslight, but he was there a lot and would get up late at night and, and do a set. And he got up, and he sang this new song called "It's a Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." And nowadays, when I hear him sing it, and it gets into, like, what seems like the 20th minute, I think, "Did I make the right decision in advising this?" No, I'm just kidding. It's a great, a great song. It's a —

Completete interview (video)

Donnerstag, 15. September 2011

"Heartland" - 1990 song by Steve Gillette & Rex Benson

Back in March of 1997, I was searching the Digital Tradition Folksong Database at The Mudcat Cafe, trying to find the lyrics to the song "Heartland" by Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson from Willie Nelson's 1993 album "Across the Borderline".

To my astonishment, I found an identically titled song
by Steve Gillette and Rex Benson:

Here, in the heart of the nation.
I'm just a man whose made a promise he can't keep
I've been workin' every sunrise,
But it's too late, I'm in too deep.

This farm is my home it's my birthright
It's the only life I know.
I've worked this land with all the love in these hands
And I can't just let it go.

But in the heartland,
There's a man who holds the paper on my soul.
There's a circumstance that's out of my control.
And the thunder and the winds begin to roll.

In the heartland,
In the light before the darkness falls.
Revelations in those marbled halls,
Where they've traded away my home,
     Where they've taken away my home.

What does it profit a man,
To gain the world and lose the seed?
To see the innocent land
Become the servant of their greed.

And I know I'm not alone,
There's a woman who knew me when my prayers were younger.
And children, ashamed of their hunger.
And others, family farmers like my own,
Up late tonight in the heartland.

And in the heartland,
There's a man who holds the paper on my soul.
There's a circumstance that's out of my control
And the thunder and the winds begin to roll.
In the heartland,
In the light before the darkness falls.
Recriminations in those distant halls
Where they've traded away our home,
Where they've taken away our home.

Copyright 1990, Foreshadow Music, BMI / Jesse Erin Music, ASCAP
Used by permission

Back in 1997, I wrote:
"Somehow, I found the similarities (topic and lyrics) to the identically named Bob Dylan/Willie Nelson song to be rather striking -- mere coincidence? Somehow, I doubt it....

To be fair, however, didn't Bob himself start the whole thing with "Ballad of Hollis Brown" back in the 1960s?

Or Woody Guthrie  in "Tom Joad", his rendering of John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath"...  
Or, for that matter, the anonymous authors lamenting the plight of  peasants in medieval England?"

Yesterday, I received an email from Steve Gillette who confirmed that at least Willie Nelson knew Steve's and Rex's song prior to his collaboration with Bob Dylan:

"Rex and I were very gratified by your willingness to make that statement.  It seemed to us that you were very perceptive, and also willing to point out that the emperor's new cloths might not be what they seem.  Forgive the clumsy use of the old expression, but I was glad to have the article which I believe you wrote in 1997.

When Rex and I wrote the song it seemed a natural fit with the Farm Aid concerts and we sent the song to Willie by way of his managers, his harmonica player, Micky Rafael who is an acquaintance, we even left a copy for him at his golf course, so we know he had ample opportunity to hear our song."

Steve added in a second email today:

"I do have great respect for Willie Nelson and for Bob Dylan and wouldn't want to say anything hurtful or that might be interpreted as a cheap shot, but what I said about their having access to our song is true.  And, honestly, I don't think one could write their song without having heard ours, but it wouldn't be the first time that I heard the echoes of my own words without knowing the full story."

Montag, 22. August 2011

70th Birthday "Dylanthology", Part 11 - "Democracy Now!" Special

All of these radio and TV programmes (and their descriptions) are © by the stations who produced and aired them. Links to streams and/or downloads and descriptions are provided solely for "nonprofit educational purposes" (one of the criteria of "fair use", Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107).
Presentation (hyperlinks, etc.) © by the author of this blog.

Democracy Now!, May 24, 2011:

The Legendary Bob Dylan Turns 70: Democracy Now! Airs Rare Interviews and Songs from Pacifica Radio Archives

Today Bob Dylan turns 70 years old, and we air a special program on his life and music. Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. Raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, he moved to Greenwich Village in January of 1961.

Within a couple of years, Dylan would be viewed by many as the voice of a generation as he wrote some of the decade’s most famous songs, including “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changing,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Masters of War,” “Desolation Row” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” After emerging from the New York City folk scene, Dylan explored many other genres, from rock to country to the blues. He continues to tour to this day. In 2008, the Pulitzer Prize jury awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."

But before Bob Dylan became a musical star, he was one of countless young musicians in New York City trying to get heard. Some of his earliest radio appearances were on Pacifica radio station WBAI.  

We speak with the legendary WBAI broadcaster Bob Fass, the host of Radio Unnameable, who interviewed Dylan several times. Fass’s show began in 1963 and became a leading outlet for the emerging counterculture of the 1960s. It still airs every Thursday night at midnight. We play excerpts from the Pacifica Radio Archives of a 1962 performance by Dylan on Fass’s show and an interview when he was only 20 years old. 

We also speak with music writer Elizabeth Thomson, co-editor of the newly reissued book, No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, written by the late Robert Shelton. And we feature part of Dylan’s 1963 performance at the March on Washington and hear why Dylan refused to sing out at protests against the Vietnam War.
Listen to/watch program at
Edited version (non-Dylan parts removed) 

Related link:
Elizabeth Thomson Interview (Podcast)