Wednesday, November 25, 2015

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin-When Bob Dylan Ruled The Folk Minute, Circa 1962

CD Review
Bob Dylan: The Best Of The Original Mono Recordings, Bob Dylan, Columbia Records, 2010

“Hey, Peter Paul, help me out tonight will you? Jenny’s cousin Joslyn is in town. Lynette promised her she could go with us to the Oleo Coffeehouse tonight and she needs a date. She is supposed to be nice and since she is from New York City she knows all about the folk scene there and about all the latest folk singers and poems and stuff,” Jeff Murphy quick-talked (the only way he knew) over the phone to his high school friend Peter Paul Markin. Peter was intrigued by this prospect for he had over the previous several months got caught up in the emerging 1962 folk wave then splashing through young America so he said sure.

Peter Paul, as was his way in those days around girls (and around his more intellectual friends) dug into his pile of folk music, folk records and folk newsletters in order to be able to carry on a civil conversation with Joslyn that night. He was especially nervous that he know every arcane fact in the folk world to impress a New York City girl who had actually been to Mecca, the Village, his idea of folk chic. Funny, he thought to himself, a year or so before he used to laugh at what he called “beats,” guys with beards, bad hair, bad breathe, baggy pants and brown flannel shirts when he took his midnight swings through Harvard Square.
He was strictly a rock and roll man, or maybe a little, be-bop blues as they filtered out of Mister Lee’s Blues Hour from Chicago on the radio on Sundays night when the wind was right. One Sunday he was trying to get that station (always a fickle proposition on his transistor radio) when he heard this gravelly-voiced guy singing something out of some old mountain hollows or something like that, a song called Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies. They guy singing it, whom he later found out was Dave Von Ronk from Brooklyn, sounded like some latter day Jehovah calling his flock home. Peter Paul was hooked and listened to the whole show. He didn’t remember all the names of the songs or performers but the next day he went to Charlie’s Records over in Adamsville Center and picked up what that shop considered folk, some Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie stuff and he was double-hooked.

That date night he went with Jeff, Lynette and Joslyn and had a good time. Although she was indeed as nice as advertised she had a problem, a Peter Paul eyes problem. She was way too knowledgeable about the folk scene for Peter. At one point he was sitting there in silence as she went on and on about the Village. Mostly what she said was that a new wave was coming, we, meaning us, the kids then, were ready to bust out and make a newer world and folk music would be the cement that united us. Powerful stuff.

She said that a young guy, a young guy hanging around the bars and coffeehouses, places like Geddes Folk City, was writing up a storm, a storm to make a storm. She asked Peter Paul if he had heard Bob Dylan ‘s latest Blowin’ In The Windthat was becoming a national anthem for the youth who wanted to change the world and change it now. Peter Paul blushed, blushed crimson red or redder maybe. He had never heard of Bob Dylan. Next day though he was at Charlie’s.

P.S. Peter Paul and Joslyn would meet again a number of times over the next several years, dated sometimes, lived together a couple of times, and each time she got the chance Joslyn would “remind” Peter Paul of that first Oleo coffeehouse date and his lack of knowledge of Bob Dylan then. Later Peter Paul lost contact with Joslyn after she went underground with the Weathermen in the late 1960s to try to create her version of that newer world she talked about that first night.

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