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)


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