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Article: The Music In Me: The Spark


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Thanks for the memories. I was around when Bobby started out in NY, not as early as Minnesota though. Remember old times down in NYC and up in Woodstock (Mid Hudson Valley town of, not talking about the infamous concert). Most people I knew (and those still living in NY) from that era favored early folk Dylan to the electric Dylan although more than a few became less discriminating as their dope consumption tilted-up. I understand musicians don't like staying static, they change with the times and are always searching for inspiration, but when Dylan went electric, I went to spinning my Odetta records. Pete S. (God rest his soul) wasn't just a stick-in-the-mud dinosaur, he realized the soul of Dylan's music was being lost. Bringing it all back home LP was interesting, but that electric Bloomfield guitar wreaked havoc on Bobby's lyrics. Thankfully he got his moho back later..and yes I've seen all those Dylan movies and heard all the opinions. This is just mine.

“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Steve Bannon

 

Chief Strategist for President Trump and attendee on United States National Security Council.

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Sorry Gilbert, but I have to correct you regarding "The Death of Emmett Till" (note the spelling). He was not a "poor African-American laborer". Rather he was a 14 year old black youth from Chicago who, while visiting family in Money, Mississippi, in 1955, was brutally lynched for whistling at a white lady in a general store. Many consider Till's murder, and the uproar that followed the acquittal of two of his killers a month later, to be one of the major events that provided momentum to the civil rights movement in the U.S.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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Thanks for this nicely conceived and executed article. It brought back vividly many memories. Memories that are personally mine, but also not so different from many others at the time. Such times in a culture aren't all that common. You have illuminated it well here.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Sorry Gilbert, but I have to correct you regarding "The Death of Emmett Till" (note the spelling). He was not a "poor African-American laborer". Rather he was a 14 year old black youth from Chicago who, while visiting family in Money, Mississippi, in 1955, was brutally lynched for whistling at a white lady in a general store. Many consider Till's murder, and the uproar that followed the acquittal of two of his killers a month later, to be one of the major events that provided momentum to the civil rights movement in the U.S.

 

You are so right. I got so confused. Thanks for the correction.

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Good column, but I don't really agree with the viewpoint.

What happened in the Sixities was due to a lot of different cultural influences building on one another, and mutually influencing each other.

Was Dylan great and important? Yes. But before he turned to Rock, and before "Like a Rolling Stone" he was pretty unknown by most American youth - they didn't have his albums and or listen to his music.

Did he influence the Beatles? For sure. But they also impacted him. Read about his reaction when he first heard them on the radio-and yes, I'm talking abut those early Beatles hits. He immediately realized the future was in electric instruments and Rock. Like with the other bands in the Sixties they each influenced the other - back and forth. You could just as easily write an article showing how The Beatles were "the Spark".

 

So to say one person/band was "the spark" for the Sixites - no, I'm not buying it.

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Thanks for this nicely conceived and executed article. It brought back vividly many memories. Memories that are personally mine, but also not so different from many others at the time. Such times in a culture aren't all that common. You have illuminated it well here.

 

+1

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

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Looking at the state of the US and the world, I wonder why there is not more outrage in modern popular music. You have to listen to Masters of War at least once a month to get fired up. The Iraq invasion and its horrific result, the failure of any nation to truly address the Islamofacist state, slaughter in Paris, the list goes on. Yet today at Yale, the students complain of micoaggression and long dead Woodrow Wilson. I agree with Crosby, "We named Nixon". Well no one is naming names today.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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Was Dylan great and important? Yes. But before he turned to Rock, and before "Like a Rolling Stone" he was pretty unknown by most American youth - they didn't have his albums and or listen to his music.

I don't know how old you were or where you lived at the time, but everybody I knew in the sixties was very familiar with Bob Dylan long before "Like a Rolling Stone". "The Times They are a Changin" was nothing less than the anthem of a generation. As far as The Beatles are concerned, Dylan's influence saw their music mature from teenbopper pop to songs of real substance.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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Looking at the state of the US and the world, I wonder why there is not more outrage in modern popular music. You have to listen to Masters of War at least once a month to get fired up. The Iraq invasion and its horrific result, the failure of any nation to truly address the Islamofacist state, slaughter in Paris, the list goes on. Yet today at Yale, the students complain of microaggression and long dead Woodrow Wilson. I agree with Crosby, "We named Nixon". Well no one is naming names today.

 

 

Right! How about in every classroom? Same with "With God On Our Side." Now more than ever. Any other suggestions?

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Good column, but I don't really agree with the viewpoint.

What happened in the Sixities was due to a lot of different cultural influences building on one another, and mutually influencing each other.

Was Dylan great and important? Yes. But before he turned to Rock, and before "Like a Rolling Stone" he was pretty unknown by most American youth - they didn't have his albums and or listen to his music.

Did he influence the Beatles? For sure. But they also impacted him. Read about his reaction when he first heard them on the radio-and yes, I'm talking abut those early Beatles hits. He immediately realized the future was in electric instruments and Rock. Like with the other bands in the Sixties they each influenced the other - back and forth. You could just as easily write an article showing how The Beatles were "the Spark".

 

So to say one person/band was "the spark" for the Sixites - no, I'm not buying it.

 

 

 

 

Well, as long as Allen F is agreeing with me, I’ll have to agree with him. Often enough in other essays I wrote about what I heard or know through other sources, but for a lot of this one, I was there. Again, it’s important to know the where, when, with who you were involved, but I remember being a high school junior in 1963 and someone asked me, “have you heard this guy?” We were years away from stereos, and some of us had Hi-Fi, but many of my friends had “record players” and some of those only played 45s, and I remember Coming to a classmate’s house to listen to this guy people were talking about, and it was Dylan. He was a sonic hand grenade that went off in living rooms, dens, bedrooms in several homes on Long Island that I know of, and by 1964 as a freshman in a Connecticut university, I found many like-minded people gathering in groups to listen to people playing his songs along with the other songs like “Where Have All The Flowers Gone.” It was a growing, dedicated community and the university made efforts to accommodate our gatherings until the protests became enthusiastic enough for them to take precautions, and that was happening in schools all over the northeast that I know of. Phil Ochs briefly held some importance for his songs like “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,”

but it was Dylan who rose to the top and kept rising, leaving Ochs a barely remembered suicide, but I remember him. I loved what he did to “The Bells” by Poe, but again, it was Dylan. My memory is very clear: he was The Voice and when he spoke we listened and were influenced. And yes, there were many cultural influences building on one another, but as a candidate for the spark, Dylan is unequaled.

As for his electrification, I was at Newport in 1965 when he brought on his electrified band, and there remains much confusion about what happened:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Dylan_controversy

But I was there at Forest Hills two weeks later when (my best guess) 20-30% of the crowd was yelling, “Unplug! Unplug!” and about 50-60% were shouting “Let him play!” Quite a scene…

 

Firedog was right that most of us weren’t aware of him in 1963 and -64, but some of us were, as I said several times on the essay, using terms like “growing, but slowly” and “Some kids heard it and shared the Word. Not a majority at first, maybe, but the word was spreading,” and “Not everyone heard the call to arms; some heard nothing at all, some thought they heard something,” and “some had heard the early call of Elvis and Jerry Lee and others, and were bored with the Bobby’s, Jimmy’s and other Elvis clones” and that is what I experienced, and those that heard the call early were in the forefront of the coming changes and some came later, and some not at all, but as this is about his pre-rock days, I’ll stand by what I saw. I think that recognizing his genius is important, but I wanted to show the earliest signs of his genius. And BTW, we included 2001’s “Things Have Changed” just because it’s a great song.

 

One more thing to Allen F: When I acknowledged my mistake in calling Emmet Till a laborer, I phrased it poorly. I wasn’t “so confused.” That is an inelegant phrasing. I conflated that song with another, but I appreciate the correction. Also on Allen F: you are right in that it’s important to know the who, when and where. But thanks to all who comment. And I mean that this time.

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Looking at the state of the US and the world, I wonder why there is not more outrage in modern popular music. You have to listen to Masters of War at least once a month to get fired up. The Iraq invasion and its horrific result, the failure of any nation to truly address the Islamofacist state, slaughter in Paris, the list goes on. Yet today at Yale, the students complain of micoaggression and long dead Woodrow Wilson. I agree with Crosby, "We named Nixon". Well no one is naming names today.

well said.

 

Popular music seems much more about making a buck than an artistic endeavor to fight those in power. On the other hand, maybe the masses want something different from their music. They want an escape. Thus, all the musicians crafting anti-government songs are all on indie labels instead of being popular. Who knows?

 

I hate to get to political because it can be bad for business but your post really nails it. When major universities are in an uproar about Halloween costumes more so than other items, we are officially out of problems. Living in a bubble.

 

Where are the songs about fracking, climate change, terrorism, religious zealots, the Iraq/n war? No matter what one believes on any of these subjects, you gotta believe the popular artists of the Sixties would have crafted public opinion swaying anthems had this been their time.

 

Gilbert - Just like a good song from the Sixties, your article has sparked real conversation and urged people to talk about things higher on the list of priorities. Bravo.

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Thanks for the memories. I was around when Bobby started out in NY, not as early as Minnesota though. Remember old times down in NYC and up in Woodstock (Mid Hudson Valley town of, not talking about the infamous concert). Most people I knew (and those still living in NY) from that era favored early folk Dylan to the electric Dylan although more than a few became less discriminating as their dope consumption tilted-up. I understand musicians don't like staying static, they change with the times and are always searching for inspiration, but when Dylan went electric, I went to spinning my Odetta records. Pete S. (God rest his soul) wasn't just a stick-in-the-mud dinosaur, he realized the soul of Dylan's music was being lost. Bringing it all back home LP was interesting, but that electric Bloomfield guitar wreaked havoc on Bobby's lyrics. Thankfully he got his moho back later..and yes I've seen all those Dylan movies and heard all the opinions. This is just mine.

 

 

Not about the essay, but you mentioned the town of Woodstock, and in the early 70's I used to live in Lanesville, half-way between Woodstock and Tannersville. Good pizza in Tannersville. Beautiful places, good people, good times...

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My memory is very clear: he was The Voice and when he spoke we listened and were influenced. And yes, there were many cultural influences building on one another, but as a candidate for the spark, Dylan is unequaled.

As for his electrification, I was at Newport in 1965 when he brought on his electrified band, and there remains much confusion about what happened:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Dylan_controversy

I was at Newport in 1964, where Dylan performed alone and with Joan Baez. Phil Ochs was on the bill as well. Ochs was far 'edgier' than Dylan, but probably even more topical at that time.

 

Interesting story about Al Kooper and "Like a Rolling Stone". He apparently showed up at the session hoping to play guitar, but Dylan had "the best guitar player in the world" (Dylan's words) in Michael Bloomfield. So, Kooper played the organ. When the tape was played back, Dylan kept saying, "Turn up the organ, turn up the organ". He was told that Kooper wasn't really an organ player. Dylan's reported response was, "I don't care, turn up the organ". From that point on, no one questioned whether Kooper was "really" a keyboard player.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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Not about the essay, but you mentioned the town of Woodstock, and in the early 70's I used to live in Lanesville, half-way between Woodstock and Tannersville. Good pizza in Tannersville. Beautiful places, good people, good times...

 

Liked bicycling from Woodstock to Tannersville. Everyone loved tubing in Tannerville in summer out there and still do. Been back in past decade and Mid Hudson Valley is still glorious in so many ways from culture and arts to cuisine and shopping. I've lived all over US and abroad, and always chuckle to myself when I see those lists of "Best Places To Live" because I know the areas in or near many of them, and few compare to many of the small towns around Ulster and Dutchess County, NY. Having NYC a reasonable bus ride away is nice too. NYC great for day or weekend getaway, living there not so much (been there, done that). Just my opinion for what its worth (v:

“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Steve Bannon

 

Chief Strategist for President Trump and attendee on United States National Security Council.

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Interesting story about Al Kooper and "Like a Rolling Stone". He apparently showed up at the session hoping to play guitar, but Dylan had "the best guitar player in the world" (Dylan's words) in Michael Bloomfield. So, Kooper played the organ. When the tape was played back, Dylan kept saying, "Turn up the organ, turn up the organ". He was told that Kooper wasn't really an organ player. Dylan's reported response was, "I don't care, turn up the organ". From that point on, no one questioned whether Kooper was "really" a keyboard player.

 

That was spoken about in "No Direction Home" DVD. What many don't realize is that Dylan would pull snippets from books of all types he found interesting and rework them into some of his lyrics.

“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Steve Bannon

 

Chief Strategist for President Trump and attendee on United States National Security Council.

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Looking at the state of the US and the world, I wonder why there is not more outrage in modern popular music. You have to listen to Masters of War at least once a month to get fired up. The Iraq invasion and its horrific result, the failure of any nation to truly address the Islamofacist state, slaughter in Paris, the list goes on. Yet today at Yale, the students complain of micoaggression and long dead Woodrow Wilson. I agree with Crosby, "We named Nixon". Well no one is naming names today.

 

Well, part of that at least, is the age of the musicians. Most of the ones who knew out to put outrage in their songs are getting old. My age or older. It takes young voices to have that much outrage, and even then - they get old. Rap at first was filled with outrage, but then it turned into nothing more than a money machine based upon insulting and outrageous statements with little or no meaning behind them. Just sex and gratuitous violence.

 

Yes, some truly horrifying things are happening these days - but the fact of the matter is, newer and younger countries need to deal with them. Us older dodgers are more than a bit tired of spending our blood and treasure defending assholes on the other side of the world who don't appreciate it anyway. Ask the French people how they feel right now...

 

Personally, I think the entire middle east needs to be disarmed - permanently. No nuclear weapons, no standing armies, and no use of police or self defense forces outside their national boundaries. Radical perhaps, but those people are *crazy*. They need a few generations of peace, even peace imposed from outside, before their children's children can even begin to think about other things. Might be their children's, children's, children's children. Not a short term problem.

 

In the meantime though, have you listened to some of the music coming out of the area? It's different, but right up there with Arlo and Joan in intensity and meaning.

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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The Dixie Chicks and Pearl Jam did some George Bush protesting and got booed for it. Seems people don't want to hear such "nonsense" these days.

 

Also, since we are writing about Dylan here's my favorite verse:

 

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains

They’re getting ready for the feast

The Phantom of the Opera

A perfect image of a priest

They’re spoon feeding Casanova

To get him to feel more assured

Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence

After poisoning him with words

And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls

“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know

Casanova is just being punished for going

To Desolation Row”

 

Have no idea what that means, but man such beauty!

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