'tis but a scratch: fact and fiction about the Middle Ages
In this episode Richard and Dr. Jennifer Paxton of The Catholic University of America search for a historical Robin Hood and explore the medieval and Tudor stories about the heroic outlaw and his band of merry men. This is the first of a two-part series. The follow on episode will be on Robin Hood in movies and television.CreditsThe podcast's introductory and exist music is composed by the talented and generous Alexander Nakarada (https://alexandernakarada.bandcamp.com/album/collection-celtic-medieval).The opening to the folksong "Lord Randall, My Son" is by Ewan MacColl from his album, "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Child Ballads)" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0dRGi4rx0c)The modern English translation of "A Geste of Robin Hood" is by Robin Landis Frank (https://web.ics.purdue.edu/~ohlgren/gesttrans.html)
Folk musician Johnny Campbell is recording an album of songs from the summits and industrial hotspots of northern England. Jez Lowe joins him at Kinder Scout in Derbyshire to celebrate ninety years since the ‘Right to Roam' movement began and explore the traditional songs of the Peak District. Jez meets local singer Bella Hardy to hear how her home in Edale has inspired and influenced her work, and writer Roly Smith who can explain the history of Kinder and the 1932 mass trespass. It may be ninety years ago, but for young global folk stars Kate Griffin and Ford Collier of Mishra, the call for a right to roam is still relevant. They have recorded a version of Ewan MacColl's ‘Manchester Rambler', a song inspired by the Kinder trespass. Jez meets Kate, Ford, Johnny and Bella to hear how a new generation of musicians are continuing MacColl's legacy of folk singers fighting for our rights in the countryside. Produced by Helen Lennard
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode one hundred and fifty-seven of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “See Emily Play", the birth of the UK underground, and the career of Roger Barrett, known as Syd. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "First Girl I Loved" by the Incredible String Band. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources No Mixcloud this time, due to the number of Pink Floyd songs. I referred to two biographies of Barrett in this episode -- A Very Irregular Head by Rob Chapman is the one I would recommend, and the one whose narrative I have largely followed. Some of the information has been superseded by newer discoveries, but Chapman is almost unique in people writing about Barrett in that he actually seems to care about the facts and try to get things right rather than make up something more interesting. Crazy Diamond by Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson is much less reliable, but does have quite a few interview quotes that aren't duplicated by Chapman. Information about Joe Boyd comes from Boyd's book White Bicycles. In this and future episodes on Pink Floyd I'm also relying on Nick Mason's Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd: All the Songs by Jean-Michel Guesdon and Philippe Margotin. The compilation Relics contains many of the most important tracks from Barrett's time with Pink Floyd, while Piper at the Gates of Dawn is his one full album with them. Those who want a fuller history of his time with the group will want to get Piper and also the box set Cambridge St/ation 1965-1967. Barrett only released two solo albums during his career. They're available as a bundle here. Completists will also want the rarities and outtakes collection Opel. ERRATA: I talk about “Interstellar Overdrive” as if Barrett wrote it solo. The song is credited to all four members, but it was Barrett who came up with the riff I talk about. And annoyingly, given the lengths I went to to deal correctly with Barrett's name, I repeatedly refer to "Dave" Gilmour, when Gilmour prefers David. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A note before I begin -- this episode deals with drug use and mental illness, so anyone who might be upset by those subjects might want to skip this one. But also, there's a rather unique problem in how I deal with the name of the main artist in the story today. The man everyone knows as Syd Barrett was born Roger Barrett, used that name with his family for his whole life, and in later years very strongly disliked being called "Syd", yet everyone other than his family called him that at all times until he left the music industry, and that's the name that appears on record labels, including his solo albums. I don't believe it's right to refer to people by names they choose not to go by themselves, but the name Barrett went by throughout his brief period in the public eye was different from the one he went by later, and by all accounts he was actually distressed by its use in later years. So what I'm going to do in this episode is refer to him as "Roger Barrett" when a full name is necessary for disambiguation or just "Barrett" otherwise, but I'll leave any quotes from other people referring to "Syd" as they were originally phrased. In future episodes on Pink Floyd, I'll refer to him just as Barrett, but in episodes where I discuss his influence on other artists, I will probably have to use "Syd Barrett" because otherwise people who haven't listened to this episode won't know what on Earth I'm talking about. Anyway, on with the show. “It's gone!” sighed the Rat, sinking back in his seat again. “So beautiful and strange and new. Since it was to end so soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems worth while but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to it for ever. No! There it is again!” he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound. “Now it passes on and I begin to lose it,” he said presently. “O Mole! the beauty of it! The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy call of the distant piping! Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us.” That's a quote from a chapter titled "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" from the classic children's book The Wind in the Willows -- a book which for most of its length is a fairly straightforward story about anthropomorphic animals having jovial adventures, but which in that one chapter has Rat and Mole suddenly encounter the Great God Pan and have a hallucinatory, transcendental experience caused by his music, one so extreme it's wiped from their minds, as they simply cannot process it. The book, and the chapter, was a favourite of Roger Barrett, a young child born in Cambridge in 1946. Barrett came from an intellectual but not especially bookish family. His father, Dr. Arthur Barrett, was a pathologist -- there's a room in Addenbrooke's Hospital named after him -- but he was also an avid watercolour painter, a world-leading authority on fungi, and a member of the Cambridge Philharmonic Society who was apparently an extraordinarily good singer; while his mother Winifred was a stay-at-home mother who was nonetheless very active in the community, organising a local Girl Guide troupe. They never particularly encouraged their family to read, but young Roger did particularly enjoy the more pastoral end of the children's literature of the time. As well as the Wind in the Willows he also loved Alice in Wonderland, and the Little Grey Men books -- a series of stories about tiny gnomes and their adventures in the countryside. But his two big passions were music and painting. He got his first ukulele at age eleven, and by the time his father died, just before Roger's sixteenth birthday, he had graduated to playing a full-sized guitar. At the time his musical tastes were largely the same as those of any other British teenager -- he liked Chubby Checker, for example -- though he did have a tendency to prefer the quirkier end of things, and some of the first songs he tried to play on the guitar were those of Joe Brown: [Excerpt: Joe Brown, "I'm Henry VIII I Am"] Barrett grew up in Cambridge, and for those who don't know it, Cambridge is an incubator of a very particular kind of eccentricity. The university tends to attract rather unworldly intellectual overachievers to the city -- people who might not be able to survive in many other situations but who can thrive in that one -- and every description of Barrett's father suggests he was such a person -- Barrett's sister Rosemary has said that she believes that most of the family were autistic, though whether this is a belief based on popular media portrayals or a deeper understanding I don't know. But certainly Cambridge is full of eccentric people with remarkable achievements, and such people tend to have children with a certain type of personality, who try simultaneously to live up to and rebel against expectations of greatness that come from having parents who are regarded as great, and to do so with rather less awareness of social norms than the typical rebel has. In the case of Roger Barrett, he, like so many others of his generation, was encouraged to go into the sciences -- as indeed his father had, both in his career as a pathologist and in his avocation as a mycologist. The fifties and sixties were a time, much like today, when what we now refer to as the STEM subjects were regarded as new and exciting and modern. But rather than following in his father's professional footsteps, Roger Barrett instead followed his hobbies. Dr. Barrett was a painter and musician in his spare time, and Roger was to turn to those things to earn his living. For much of his teens, it seemed that art would be the direction he would go in. He was, everyone agrees, a hugely talented painter, and he was particularly noted for his mastery of colours. But he was also becoming more and more interested in R&B music, especially the music of Bo Diddley, who became his new biggest influence: [Excerpt: Bo Diddley, "Who Do You Love?"] He would often spend hours with his friend Dave Gilmour, a much more advanced guitarist, trying to learn blues riffs. By this point Barrett had already received the nickname "Syd". Depending on which story you believe, he either got it when he started attending a jazz club where an elderly jazzer named Sid Barrett played, and the people were amused that their youngest attendee, like one of the oldest, was called Barrett; or, more plausibly, he turned up to a Scout meeting once wearing a flat cap rather than the normal scout beret, and he got nicknamed "Sid" because it made him look working-class and "Sid" was a working-class sort of name. In 1962, by the time he was sixteen, Barrett joined a short-lived group called Geoff Mott and the Mottoes, on rhythm guitar. The group's lead singer, Geoff Mottlow, would go on to join a band called the Boston Crabs who would have a minor hit in 1965 with a version of the Coasters song "Down in Mexico": [Excerpt: The Boston Crabs, "Down in Mexico"] The bass player from the Mottoes, Tony Sainty, and the drummer Clive Welham, would go on to form another band, The Jokers Wild, with Barrett's friend Dave Gilmour. Barrett also briefly joined another band, Those Without, but his time with them was similarly brief. Some sources -- though ones I consider generally less reliable -- say that the Mottoes' bass player wasn't Tony Sainty, but was Roger Waters, the son of one of Barrett's teachers, and that one of the reasons the band split up was that Waters had moved down to London to study architecture. I don't think that's the case, but it's definitely true that Barrett knew Waters, and when he moved to London himself the next year to go to Camberwell Art College, he moved into a house where Waters was already living. Two previous tenants at the same house, Nick Mason and Richard Wright, had formed a loose band with Waters and various other amateur musicians like Keith Noble, Shelagh Noble, and Clive Metcalfe. That band was sometimes known as the Screaming Abdabs, The Megadeaths, or The Tea Set -- the latter as a sly reference to slang terms for cannabis -- but was mostly known at first as Sigma 6, named after a manifesto by the novelist Alexander Trocchi for a kind of spontaneous university. They were also sometimes known as Leonard's Lodgers, after the landlord of the home that Barrett was moving into, Mike Leonard, who would occasionally sit in on organ and would later, as the band became more of a coherent unit, act as a roadie and put on light shows behind them -- Leonard was himself very interested in avant-garde and experimental art, and it was his idea to play around with the group's lighting. By the time Barrett moved in with Waters in 1964, the group had settled on the Tea Set name, and consisted of Waters on bass, Mason on drums, Wright on keyboards, singer Chris Dennis, and guitarist Rado Klose. Of the group, Klose was the only one who was a skilled musician -- he was a very good jazz guitarist, while the other members were barely adequate. By this time Barrett's musical interests were expanding to include folk music -- his girlfriend at the time talked later about him taking her to see Bob Dylan on his first UK tour and thinking "My first reaction was seeing all these people like Syd. It was almost as if every town had sent one Syd Barrett there. It was my first time seeing people like him." But the music he was most into was the blues. And as the Tea Set were turning into a blues band, he joined them. He even had a name for the new band that would make them more bluesy. He'd read the back of a record cover which had named two extremely obscure blues musicians -- musicians he may never even have heard. Pink Anderson: [Excerpt: Pink Anderson, "Boll Weevil"] And Floyd Council: [Excerpt: Floyd Council, "Runaway Man Blues"] Barrett suggested that they put together the names of the two bluesmen, and presumably because "Anderson Council" didn't have quite the right ring, they went for The Pink Floyd -- though for a while yet they would sometimes still perform as The Tea Set, and they were sometimes also called The Pink Floyd Sound. Dennis left soon after Barrett joined, and the new five-piece Pink Floyd Sound started trying to get more gigs. They auditioned for Ready Steady Go! and were turned down, but did get some decent support slots, including for a band called the Tridents: [Excerpt: The Tridents, "Tiger in Your Tank"] The members of the group were particularly impressed by the Tridents' guitarist and the way he altered his sound using feedback -- Barrett even sent a letter to his girlfriend with a drawing of the guitarist, one Jeff Beck, raving about how good he was. At this point, the group were mostly performing cover versions, but they did have a handful of originals, and it was these they recorded in their first demo sessions in late 1964 and early 1965. They included "Walk With Me Sydney", a song written by Roger Waters as a parody of "Work With Me Annie" and "Dance With Me Henry" -- and, given the lyrics, possibly also Hank Ballard's follow-up "Henry's Got Flat Feet (Can't Dance No More) and featuring Rick Wright's then-wife Juliette Gale as Etta James to Barrett's Richard Berry: [Excerpt: The Tea Set, "Walk With Me Sydney"] And four songs by Barrett, including one called "Double-O Bo" which was a Bo Diddley rip-off, and "Butterfly", the most interesting of these early recordings: [Excerpt: The Tea Set, "Butterfly"] At this point, Barrett was very unsure of his own vocal abilities, and wrote a letter to his girlfriend saying "Emo says why don't I give up 'cos it sounds horrible, and I would but I can't get Fred to join because he's got a group (p'raps you knew!) so I still have to sing." "Fred" was a nickname for his old friend Dave Gilmour, who was playing in his own band, Joker's Wild, at this point. Summer 1965 saw two important events in the life of the group. The first was that Barrett took LSD for the first time. The rest of the group weren't interested in trying it, and would indeed generally be one of the more sober bands in the rock business, despite the reputation their music got. The other members would for the most part try acid once or twice, around late 1966, but generally steer clear of it. Barrett, by contrast, took it on a very regular basis, and it would influence all the work he did from that point on. The other event was that Rado Klose left the group. Klose was the only really proficient musician in the group, but he had very different tastes to the other members, preferring to play jazz to R&B and pop, and he was also falling behind in his university studies, and decided to put that ahead of remaining in the band. This meant that the group members had to radically rethink the way they were making music. They couldn't rely on instrumental proficiency, so they had to rely on ideas. One of the things they started to do was use echo. They got primitive echo devices and put both Barrett's guitar and Wright's keyboard through them, allowing them to create new sounds that hadn't been heard on stage before. But they were still mostly doing the same Slim Harpo and Bo Diddley numbers everyone else was doing, and weren't able to be particularly interesting while playing them. But for a while they carried on doing the normal gigs, like a birthday party they played in late 1965, where on the same bill was a young American folk singer named Paul Simon, and Joker's Wild, the band Dave Gilmour was in, who backed Simon on a version of "Johnny B. Goode". A couple of weeks after that party, Joker's Wild went into the studio to record their only privately-pressed five-song record, of them performing recent hits: [Excerpt: Joker's Wild, "Walk Like a Man"] But The Pink Floyd Sound weren't as musically tight as Joker's Wild, and they couldn't make a living as a cover band even if they wanted to. They had to do something different. Inspiration then came from a very unexpected source. I mentioned earlier that one of the names the group had been performing under had been inspired by a manifesto for a spontaneous university by the writer Alexander Trocchi. Trocchi's ideas had actually been put into practice by an organisation calling itself the London Free School, based in Notting Hill. The London Free School was an interesting mixture of people from what was then known as the New Left, but who were already rapidly aging, the people who had been the cornerstone of radical campaigning in the late fifties and early sixties, who had run the Aldermaston marches against nuclear weapons and so on, and a new breed of countercultural people who in a year or two would be defined as hippies but at the time were not so easy to pigeonhole. These people were mostly politically radical but very privileged people -- one of the founder members of the London Free School was Peter Jenner, who was the son of a vicar and the grandson of a Labour MP -- and they were trying to put their radical ideas into practice. The London Free School was meant to be a collective of people who would help each other and themselves, and who would educate each other. You'd go to the collective wanting to learn how to do something, whether that's how to improve the housing in your area or navigate some particularly difficult piece of bureaucracy, or how to play a musical instrument, and someone who had that skill would teach you how to do it, while you hopefully taught them something else of value. The London Free School, like all such utopian schemes, ended up falling apart, but it had a wider cultural impact than most such schemes. Britain's first underground newspaper, the International Times, was put together by people involved in the Free School, and the annual Notting Hill Carnival, which is now one of the biggest outdoor events in Britain every year with a million attendees, came from the merger of outdoor events organised by the Free School with older community events. A group of musicians called AMM was associated with many of the people involved in the Free School. AMM performed totally improvised music, with no structure and no normal sense of melody and harmony: [Excerpt: AMM, "What Is There In Uselesness To Cause You Distress?"] Keith Rowe, the guitarist in AMM, wanted to find his own technique uninfluenced by American jazz guitarists, and thought of that in terms that appealed very strongly to the painterly Barrett, saying "For the Americans to develop an American school of painting, they somehow had to ditch or lose European easel painting techniques. They had to make a break with the past. What did that possibly mean if you were a jazz guitar player? For me, symbolically, it was Pollock laying the canvas on the floor, which immediately abandons European easel technique. I could see that by laying the canvas down, it became inappropriate to apply easel techniques. I thought if I did that with a guitar, I would just lose all those techniques, because they would be physically impossible to do." Rowe's technique-free technique inspired Barrett to make similar noises with his guitar, and to think less in terms of melody and harmony than pure sound. AMM's first record came out in 1966. Four of the Free School people decided to put together their own record label, DNA, and they got an agreement with Elektra Records to distribute its first release -- Joe Boyd, the head of Elektra in the UK, was another London Free School member, and someone who had plenty of experience with disruptive art already, having been on the sound engineering team at the Newport Folk Festival when Dylan went electric. AMM went into the studio and recorded AMMMusic: [Excerpt: AMM, "What Is There In Uselesness To Cause You Distress?"] After that came out, though, Peter Jenner, one of the people who'd started the label, came to a realisation. He said later "We'd made this one record with AMM. Great record, very seminal, seriously avant-garde, but I'd started adding up and I'd worked out that the deal we had, we got two percent of retail, out of which we, the label, had to pay for recording costs and pay ourselves. I came to the conclusion that we were going to have to sell a hell of a lot of records just to pay the recording costs, let alone pay ourselves any money and build a label, so I realised we had to have a pop band because pop bands sold a lot of records. It was as simple as that and I was as naive as that." Jenner abandoned DNA records for the moment, and he and his friend Andrew King decided they were going to become pop managers. and they found The Pink Floyd Sound playing at an event at the Marquee, one of a series of events that were variously known as Spontaneous Underground and The Trip. Other participants in those events included Soft Machine; Mose Allison; Donovan, performing improvised songs backed by sitar players; Graham Bond; a performer who played Bach pieces while backed by African drummers; and The Poison Bellows, a poetry duo consisting of Spike Hawkins and Johnny Byrne, who may of all of these performers be the one who other than Pink Floyd themselves has had the most cultural impact in the UK -- after writing the exploitation novel Groupie and co-writing a film adaptation of Spike Milligan's war memoirs, Byrne became a TV screenwriter, writing many episodes of Space: 1999 and Doctor Who before creating the long-running TV series Heartbeat. Jenner and King decided they wanted to sign The Pink Floyd Sound and make records with them, and the group agreed -- but only after their summer holidays. They were all still students, and so they dispersed during the summer. Waters and Wright went on holiday to Greece, where they tried acid for the first of only a small number of occasions and were unimpressed, while Mason went on a trip round America by Greyhound bus. Barrett, meanwhile, stayed behind, and started writing more songs, encouraged by Jenner, who insisted that the band needed to stop relying on blues covers and come up with their own material, and who saw Barrett as the focus of the group. Jenner later described them as "Four not terribly competent musicians who managed between them to create something that was extraordinary. Syd was the main creative drive behind the band - he was the singer and lead guitarist. Roger couldn't tune his bass because he was tone deaf, it had to be tuned by Rick. Rick could write a bit of a tune and Roger could knock out a couple of words if necessary. 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' was the first song Roger ever wrote, and he only did it because Syd encouraged everyone to write. Syd was very hesitant about his writing, but when he produced these great songs everyone else thought 'Well, it must be easy'" Of course, we know this isn't quite true -- Waters had written "Walk with me Sydney" -- but it is definitely the case that everyone involved thought of Barrett as the main creative force in the group, and that he was the one that Jenner was encouraging to write new material. After the summer holidays, the group reconvened, and one of their first actions was to play a benefit for the London Free School. Jenner said later "Andrew King and myself were both vicars' sons, and we knew that when you want to raise money for the parish you have to have a social. So in a very old-fashioned way we said 'let's put on a social'. Like in the Just William books, like a whist drive. We thought 'You can't have a whist drive. That's not cool. Let's have a band. That would be cool.' And the only band we knew was the band I was starting to get involved with." After a couple of these events went well, Joe Boyd suggested that they make those events a regular club night, and the UFO Club was born. Jenner and King started working on the light shows for the group, and then bringing in other people, and the light show became an integral part of the group's mystique -- rather than standing in a spotlight as other groups would, they worked in shadows, with distorted kaleidoscopic lights playing on them, distancing themselves from the audience. The highlight of their sets was a long piece called "Interstellar Overdrive", and this became one of the group's first professional recordings, when they went into the studio with Joe Boyd to record it for the soundtrack of a film titled Tonite Let's All Make Love in London. There are conflicting stories about the inspiration for the main riff for "Interstellar Overdrive". One apparent source is the riff from Love's version of the Bacharach and David song "My Little Red Book". Depending on who you ask, either Barrett was obsessed with Love's first album and copied the riff, or Peter Jenner tried to hum him the riff and Barrett copied what Jenner was humming: [Excerpt: Love, "My Little Red Book"] More prosaically, Roger Waters has always claimed that the main inspiration was from "Old Ned", Ron Grainer's theme tune for the sitcom Steptoe and Son (which for American listeners was remade over there as Sanford and Son): [Excerpt: Ron Grainer, "Old Ned"] Of course it's entirely possible, and even likely, that Barrett was inspired by both, and if so that would neatly sum up the whole range of Pink Floyd's influences at this point. "My Little Red Book" was a cover by an American garage-psych/folk-rock band of a hit by Manfred Mann, a group who were best known for pop singles but were also serious blues and jazz musicians, while Steptoe and Son was a whimsical but dark and very English sitcom about a way of life that was slowly disappearing. And you can definitely hear both influences in the main riff of the track they recorded with Boyd: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "Interstellar Overdrive"] "Interstellar Overdrive" was one of two types of song that The Pink Floyd were performing at this time -- a long, extended, instrumental psychedelic excuse for freaky sounds, inspired by things like the second disc of Freak Out! by the Mothers of Invention. When they went into the studio again with Boyd later in January 1967, to record what they hoped would be their first single, they recorded two of the other kind of songs -- whimsical story songs inspired equally by the incidents of everyday life and by children's literature. What became the B-side, "Candy and a Currant Bun", was based around the riff from "Smokestack Lightnin'" by Howlin' Wolf: [Excerpt: Howlin' Wolf, "Smokestack Lightnin'"] That song had become a favourite on the British blues scene, and was thus the inspiration for many songs of the type that get called "quintessentially English". Ray Davies, who was in many ways the major songwriter at this time who was closest to Barrett stylistically, would a year later use the riff for the Kinks song "Last of the Steam-Powered Trains", but in this case Barrett had originally written a song titled "Let's Roll Another One", about sexual longing and cannabis. The lyrics were hastily rewritten in the studio to remove the controversial drug references-- and supposedly this caused some conflict between Barrett and Waters, with Waters pushing for the change, while Barrett argued against it, though like many of the stories from this period this sounds like the kind of thing that gets said by people wanting to push particular images of both men. Either way, the lyric was changed to be about sweet treats rather than drugs, though the lascivious elements remained in. And some people even argue that there was another lyric change -- where Barrett sings "walk with me", there's a slight "f" sound in his vocal. As someone who does a lot of microphone work myself, it sounds to me like just one of those things that happens while recording, but a lot of people are very insistent that Barrett is deliberately singing a different word altogether: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "Candy and a Currant Bun"] The A-side, meanwhile, was inspired by real life. Both Barrett and Waters had mothers who used to take in female lodgers, and both had regularly had their lodgers' underwear stolen from washing lines. While they didn't know anything else about the thief, he became in Barrett's imagination a man who liked to dress up in the clothing after he stole it: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "Arnold Layne"] After recording the two tracks with Joe Boyd, the natural assumption was that the record would be put out on Elektra, the label which Boyd worked for in the UK, but Jac Holzman, the head of Elektra records, wasn't interested, and so a bidding war began for the single, as by this point the group were the hottest thing in London. For a while it looked like they were going to sign to Track Records, the label owned by the Who's management, but in the end EMI won out. Right as they signed, the News of the World was doing a whole series of articles about pop stars and their drug use, and the last of the articles talked about The Pink Floyd and their association with LSD, even though they hadn't released a record yet. EMI had to put out a press release saying that the group were not psychedelic, insisting"The Pink Floyd are not trying to create hallucinatory effects in their audience." It was only after getting signed that the group became full-time professionals. Waters had by this point graduated from university and was working as a trainee architect, and quit his job to become a pop star. Wright dropped out of university, but Mason and Barrett took sabbaticals. Barrett in particular seems to have seen this very much as a temporary thing, talking about how he was making so much money it would be foolish not to take the opportunity while it lasted, but how he was going to resume his studies in a year. "Arnold Layne" made the top twenty, and it would have gone higher had the pirate radio station Radio London, at the time the single most popular radio station when it came to pop music, not banned the track because of its sexual content. However, it would be the only single Joe Boyd would work on with the group. EMI insisted on only using in-house producers, and so while Joe Boyd would go on to a great career as a producer, and we'll see him again, he was replaced with Norman Smith. Smith had been the chief engineer on the Beatles records up to Rubber Soul, after which he'd been promoted to being a producer in his own right, and Geoff Emerick had taken over. He also had aspirations to pop stardom himself, and a few years later would have a transatlantic hit with "Oh Babe, What Would You Say?" under the name Hurricane Smith: [Excerpt: Hurricane Smith, "Oh Babe, What Would You Say?"] Smith's production of the group would prove controversial among some of the group's longtime fans, who thought that he did too much to curtail their more experimental side, as he would try to get the group to record songs that were more structured and more commercial, and would cut down their improvisations into a more manageable form. Others, notably Peter Jenner, thought that Smith was the perfect producer for the group. They started work on their first album, which was mostly recorded in studio three of Abbey Road, while the Beatles were just finishing off work on Sgt Pepper in studio two. The album was titled The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, after the chapter from The Wind in the Willows, and other than a few extended instrumental showcases, most of the album was made up of short, whimsical, songs by Barrett that were strongly infused with imagery from late-Victorian and Edwardian children's books. This is one of the big differences between the British and American psychedelic scenes. Both the British and American undergrounds were made up of the same type of people -- a mixture of older radical activists, often Communists, who had come up in Britain in the Ban the Bomb campaigns and in America in the Civil Rights movement; and younger people, usually middle-class students with radical politics from a privileged background, who were into experimenting with drugs and alternative lifestyles. But the social situations were different. In America, the younger members of the underground were angry and scared, as their principal interest was in stopping the war in Vietnam in which so many of them were being killed. And the music of the older generation of the underground, the Civil Rights activists, was shot through with influence from the blues, gospel, and American folk music, with a strong Black influence. So that's what the American psychedelic groups played, for the most part, very bluesy, very angry, music, By contrast, the British younger generation of hippies were not being drafted to go to war, and mostly had little to complain about, other than a feeling of being stifled by their parents' generation's expectations. And while most of them were influenced by the blues, that wasn't the music that had been popular among the older underground people, who had either been listening to experimental European art music or had been influenced by Ewan MacColl and his associates into listening instead to traditional old English ballads, things like the story of Tam Lin or Thomas the Rhymer, where someone is spirited away to the land of the fairies: [Excerpt: Ewan MacColl, "Thomas the Rhymer"] As a result, most British musicians, when exposed to the culture of the underground over here, created music that looked back to an idealised childhood of their grandparents' generation, songs that were nostalgic for a past just before the one they could remember (as opposed to their own childhoods, which had taken place in war or the immediate aftermath of it, dominated by poverty, rationing, and bomb sites (though of course Barrett's childhood in Cambridge had been far closer to this mythic idyll than those of his contemporaries from Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle, or London). So almost every British musician who was making music that might be called psychedelic was writing songs that were influenced both by experimental art music and by pre-War popular song, and which conjured up images from older children's books. Most notably of course at this point the Beatles were recording songs like "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" about places from their childhood, and taking lyrical inspiration from Victorian circus posters and the works of Lewis Carroll, but Barrett was similarly inspired. One of the books he loved most as a child was "The Little Grey Men" by BB, a penname for Denys Watkins-Pitchford. The book told the story of three gnomes, Baldmoney, Sneezewort, and Dodder, and their adventures on a boat when the fourth member of their little group, Cloudberry, who's a bit of a rebellious loner and more adventurous than the other three, goes exploring on his own and they have to go off and find him. Barrett's song "The Gnome" doesn't use any precise details from the book, but its combination of whimsy about a gnome named Grimble-gromble and a reverence for nature is very much in the mould of BB's work: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "The Gnome"] Another huge influence on Barrett was Hillaire Belloc. Belloc is someone who is not read much any more, as sadly he is mostly known for the intense antisemitism in some of his writing, which stains it just as so much of early twentieth-century literature is stained, but he was one of the most influential writers of the early part of the twentieth century. Like his friend GK Chesterton he was simultaneously an author of Catholic apologia and a political campaigner -- he was a Liberal MP for a few years, and a strong advocate of an economic system known as Distributism, and had a peculiar mixture of very progressive and extremely reactionary ideas which resonated with a lot of the atmosphere in the British underground of the time, even though he would likely have profoundly disapproved of them. But Belloc wrote in a variety of styles, including poems for children, which are the works of his that have aged the best, and were a huge influence on later children's writers like Roald Dahl with their gleeful comic cruelty. Barrett's "Matilda Mother" had lyrics that were, other than the chorus where Barrett begs his mother to read him more of the story, taken verbatim from three poems from Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children -- "Jim, Who Ran away from his Nurse, and was Eaten by a Lion", "Henry King (Who chewed bits of String, and was cut off in Dreadful Agonies)", and "Matilda (Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death)" -- the titles of those give some idea of the kind of thing Belloc would write: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "Matilda Mother (early version)"] Sadly for Barrett, Belloc's estate refused to allow permission for his poems to be used, and so he had to rework the lyrics, writing new fairy-tale lyrics for the finished version. Other sources of inspiration for lyrics came from books like the I Ching, which Barrett used for "Chapter 24", having bought a copy from the Indica Bookshop, the same place that John Lennon had bought The Psychedelic Experience, and there's been some suggestion that he was deliberately trying to copy Lennon in taking lyrical ideas from a book of ancient mystic wisdom. During the recording of Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the group continued playing live. As they'd now had a hit single, most of their performances were at Top Rank Ballrooms and other such venues around the country, on bills with other top chart groups, playing to audiences who seemed unimpressed or actively hostile. They also, though made two important appearances. The more well-known of these was at the 14-Hour Technicolor Dream, a benefit for International Times magazine with people including Yoko Ono, their future collaborator Ron Geesin, John's Children, Soft Machine, and The Move also performing. The 14-Hour Technicolor Dream is now largely regarded as *the* pivotal moment in the development of the UK counterculture, though even at the time some participants noted that there seemed to be a rift developing between the performers, who were often fairly straightforward beer-drinking ambitious young men who had latched on to kaftans and talk about enlightenment as the latest gimmick they could use to get ahead in the industry, and the audience who seemed to be true believers. Their other major performance was at an event called "Games for May -- Space Age Relaxation for the Climax of Spring", where they were able to do a full long set in a concert space with a quadrophonic sound system, rather than performing in the utterly sub-par environments most pop bands had to at this point. They came up with a new song written for the event, which became their second single, "See Emily Play". [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "See Emily Play"] Emily was apparently always a favourite name of Barrett's, and he even talked with one girlfriend about the possibility of naming their first child Emily, but the Emily of the song seems to have had a specific inspiration. One of the youngest attendees at the London Free School was an actual schoolgirl, Emily Young, who would go along to their events with her schoolfriend Anjelica Huston (who later became a well-known film star). Young is now a world-renowned artist, regarded as arguably Britain's greatest living stone sculptor, but at the time she was very like the other people at the London Free School -- she was from a very privileged background, her father was Wayland Young, 2nd Baron Kennet, a Labour Peer and minister who later joined the SDP. But being younger than the rest of the attendees, and still a little naive, she was still trying to find her own personality, and would take on attributes and attitudes of other people without fully understanding them, hence the song's opening lines, "Emily tries, but misunderstands/She's often inclined to borrow somebody's dream til tomorrow". The song gets a little darker towards the end though, and the image in the last verse, where she puts on a gown and floats down a river forever *could* be a gentle, pastoral, image of someone going on a boat ride, but it also could be a reference to two rather darker sources. Barrett was known to pick up imagery both from classic literature and from Arthurian legend, and so the lines inevitably conjure up both the idea of Ophelia drowning herself and of the Lady of Shallot in Tennyson's Arthurian poem, who is trapped in a tower but finds a boat, and floats down the river to Camelot but dies before the boat reaches the castle: [Excerpt: The Pink Floyd, "See Emily Play"] The song also evokes very specific memories of Barrett's childhood -- according to Roger Waters, the woods mentioned in the lyrics are meant to be woods in which they had played as children, on the road out of Cambridge towards the Gog and Magog Hills. The song was apparently seven minutes long in its earliest versions, and required a great deal of editing to get down to single length, but it was worth it, as the track made the top ten. And that was where the problems started. There are two different stories told about what happened to Roger Barrett over the next forty years, and both stories are told by people with particular agendas, who want particular versions of him to become the accepted truth. Both stories are, in the extreme versions that have been popularised, utterly incompatible with each other, but both are fairly compatible with the scanty evidence we have. Possibly the truth lies somewhere between them. In one version of the story, around this time Barrett had a total mental breakdown, brought on or exacerbated by his overuse of LSD and Mandrax (a prescription drug consisting of a mixture of the antihistamine diphenhydramine and the sedative methaqualone, which was marketed in the US under the brand-name Quaalude), and that from late summer 1967 on he was unable to lead a normal life, and spent the rest of his life as a burned-out shell. The other version of the story is that Barrett was a little fragile, and did have periods of mental illness, but for the most part was able to function fairly well. In this version of the story, he was neurodivergent, and found celebrity distressing, but more than that he found the whole process of working within commercial restrictions upsetting -- having to appear on TV pop shows and go on package tours was just not something he found himself able to do, but he was responsible for a whole apparatus of people who relied on him and his group for their living. In this telling, he was surrounded by parasites who looked on him as their combination meal-ticket-cum-guru, and was simply not suited for the role and wanted to sabotage it so he could have a private life instead. Either way, *something* seems to have changed in Barrett in a profound way in the early summer of 1967. Joe Boyd talks about meeting him after not having seen him for a few weeks, and all the light being gone from his eyes. The group appeared on Top of the Pops, Britain's top pop TV show, three times to promote "See Emily Play", but by the third time Barrett didn't even pretend to mime along with the single. Towards the end of July, they were meant to record a session for the BBC's Saturday Club radio show, but Barrett walked out of the studio before completing the first song. It's notable that Barrett's non-cooperation or inability to function was very much dependent on circumstance. He was not able to perform for Saturday Club, a mainstream pop show aimed at a mass audience, but gave perfectly good performances on several sessions for John Peel's radio show The Perfumed Garden, a show firmly aimed at Pink Floyd's own underground niche. On the thirty-first of July, three days after the Saturday Club walkout, all the group's performances for the next month were cancelled, due to "nervous exhaustion". But on the eighth of August, they went back into the studio, to record "Scream Thy Last Scream", a song Barrett wrote and which Nick Mason sang: [Excerpt: Pink Floyd, "Scream Thy Last Scream"] That was scheduled as the group's next single, but the record company vetoed it, and it wouldn't see an official release for forty-nine years. Instead they recorded another single, "Apples and Oranges": [Excerpt: Pink Floyd, "Apples and Oranges"] That was the last thing the group released while Barrett was a member. In November 1967 they went on a tour of the US, making appearances on American Bandstand and the Pat Boone Show, as well as playing several gigs. According to legend, Barrett was almost catatonic on the Pat Boone show, though no footage of that appears to be available anywhere -- and the same things were said about their performance on Bandstand, and when that turned up, it turned out Barrett seemed no more uncomfortable miming to their new single than any of the rest of the band, and was no less polite when Dick Clark asked them questions about hamburgers. But on shows on the US tour, Barrett would do things like detune his guitar so it just made clanging sounds, or just play a single note throughout the show. These are, again, things that could be taken in two different ways, and I have no way to judge which is the more correct. On one level, they could be a sign of a chaotic, disordered, mind, someone dealing with severe mental health difficulties. On the other, they're the kind of thing that Barrett was applauded and praised for in the confines of the kind of avant-garde underground audience that would pay to hear AMM or Yoko Ono, the kind of people they'd been performing for less than a year earlier, but which were absolutely not appropriate for a pop group trying to promote their latest hit single. It could be that Barrett was severely unwell, or it could just be that he wanted to be an experimental artist and his bandmates wanted to be pop stars -- and one thing absolutely everyone agrees is that the rest of the group were more ambitious than Barrett was. Whichever was the case, though, something had to give. They cut the US tour short, but immediately started another British package tour, with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Move, Amen Corner and the Nice. After that tour they started work on their next album, A Saucerful of Secrets. Where Barrett was the lead singer and principal songwriter on Piper at the Gates of Dawn, he only sings and writes one song on A Saucerful of Secrets, which is otherwise written by Waters and Wright, and only appears at all on two more of the tracks -- by the time it was released he was out of the group. The last song he tried to get the group to record was called "Have You Got it Yet?" and it was only after spending some time rehearsing it that the rest of the band realised that the song was a practical joke on them -- every time they played it, he would change the song around so they would mess up, and pretend they just hadn't learned the song yet. They brought in Barrett's old friend Dave Gilmour, initially to be a fifth member on stage to give the band some stability in their performances, but after five shows with the five-man lineup they decided just not to bother picking Barrett up, but didn't mention he was out of the group, to avoid awkwardness. At the time, Barrett and Rick Wright were flatmates, and Wright would actually lie to Barrett and say he was just going out to buy a packet of cigarettes, and then go and play gigs without him. After a couple of months of this, it was officially announced that Barrett was leaving the group. Jenner and King went with him, convinced that he was the real talent in the group and would have a solo career, and the group carried on with new management. We'll be looking at them more in future episodes. Barrett made a start at recording a solo album in mid-1968, but didn't get very far. Jenner produced those sessions, and later said "It seemed a good idea to go into the studio because I knew he had the songs. And he would sometimes play bits and pieces and you would think 'Oh that's great.' It was a 'he's got a bit of a cold today and it might get better' approach. It wasn't a cold -- and you knew it wasn't a cold -- but I kept thinking if he did the right things he'd come back to join us. He'd gone out and maybe he'd come back. That was always the analogy in my head. I wanted to make it feel friendly for him, and that where we were was a comfortable place and that he could come back and find himself again. I obviously didn't succeed." A handful of tracks from those sessions have since been released, including a version of “Golden Hair”, a setting by Barrett of a poem by James Joyce that he would later revisit: [Excerpt: Syd Barrett, “Golden Hair (first version)”] Eleven months later, he went back into the studio again, this time with producer Malcolm Jones, to record an album that later became The Madcap Laughs, his first solo album. The recording process for the album has been the source of some controversy, as initially Jones was producing the whole album, and they were working in a way that Barrett never worked before. Where previously he had cut backing tracks first and only later overdubbed his vocals, this time he started by recording acoustic guitar and vocals, and then overdubbed on top of that. But after several sessions, Jones was pulled off the album, and Gilmour and Waters were asked to produce the rest of the sessions. This may seem a bit of a callous decision, since Gilmour was the person who had replaced Barrett in his group, but apparently the two of them had remained friends, and indeed Gilmour thought that Barrett had only got better as a songwriter since leaving the band. Where Malcolm Jones had been trying, by his account, to put out something that sounded like a serious, professional, record, Gilmour and Waters seemed to regard what they were doing more as producing a piece of audio verite documentary, including false starts and studio chatter. Jones believed that this put Barrett in a bad light, saying the outtakes "show Syd, at best as out of tune, which he rarely was, and at worst as out of control (which, again, he never was)." Gilmour and Waters, on the other hand, thought that material was necessary to provide some context for why the album wasn't as slick and professional as some might have hoped. The eventual record was a hodge-podge of different styles from different sessions, with bits from the Jenner sessions, the Jones sessions, and the Waters and Gilmour sessions all mixed together, with some tracks just Barrett badly double-tracking himself with an acoustic guitar, while other tracks feature full backing by Soft Machine. However, despite Jones' accusations that the album was more-or-less sabotaged by Gilmour and Waters, the fact remains that the best tracks on the album are the ones Barrett's former bandmates produced, and there are some magnificent moments on there. But it's a disturbing album to listen to, in the same way other albums by people with clear talent but clear mental illness are, like Skip Spence's Oar, Roky Erickson's later work, or the Beach Boys Love You. In each case, the pleasure one gets is a real pleasure from real aesthetic appreciation of the work, but entangled with an awareness that the work would not exist in that form were the creator not suffering. The pleasure doesn't come from the suffering -- these are real artists creating real art, not the kind of outsider art that is really just a modern-day freak-show -- but it's still inextricable from it: [Excerpt: Syd Barrett, "Dark Globe"] The Madcap Laughs did well enough that Barrett got to record a follow-up, titled simply Barrett. This one was recorded over a period of only a handful of months, with Gilmour and Rick Wright producing, and a band consisting of Gilmour, Wright, and drummer Jerry Shirley. The album is generally considered both more consistent and less interesting than The Madcap Laughs, with less really interesting material, though there are some enjoyable moments on it: [Excerpt: Syd Barrett, "Effervescing Elephant"] But the album is a little aimless, and people who knew him at the time seem agreed that that was a reflection of his life. He had nothing he *needed* to be doing -- no tour dates, no deadlines, no pressure at all, and he had a bit of money from record royalties -- so he just did nothing at all. The one solo gig he ever played, with the band who backed him on Barrett, lasted four songs, and he walked off half-way through the fourth. He moved back to Cambridge for a while in the early seventies, and he tried putting together a new band with Twink, the drummer of the Pink Fairies and Pretty Things, Fred Frith, and Jack Monck, but Frith left after one gig. The other three performed a handful of shows either as "Stars" or as "Barrett, Adler, and Monck", just in the Cambridge area, but soon Barrett got bored again. He moved back to London, and in 1974 he made one final attempt to make a record, going into the studio with Peter Jenner, where he recorded a handful of tracks that were never released. But given that the titles of those tracks were things like "Boogie #1", "Boogie #2", "Slow Boogie", "Fast Boogie", "Chooka-Chooka Chug Chug" and "John Lee Hooker", I suspect we're not missing out on a lost masterpiece. Around this time there was a general resurgence in interest in Barrett, prompted by David Bowie having recorded a version of "See Emily Play" on his covers album Pin-Ups, which came out in late 1973: [Excerpt: David Bowie, "See Emily Play"] At the same time, the journalist Nick Kent wrote a long profile of Barrett, The Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett, which like Kent's piece on Brian Wilson a year later, managed to be a remarkable piece of writing with a sense of sympathy for its subject and understanding of his music, but also a less-than-accurate piece of journalism which led to a lot of myths and disinformation being propagated. Barrett briefly visited his old bandmates in the studio in 1975 while they were recording the album Wish You Were Here -- some say even during the recording of the song "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond", which was written specifically about Barrett, though Nick Mason claims otherwise -- and they didn't recognise him at first, because by this point he had a shaved head and had put on a great deal of weight. He seemed rather sad, and that was the last time any of them saw him, apart from Roger Waters, who saw him in Harrod's a few years later. That time, as soon as Barrett recognised Waters, he dropped his bag and ran out of the shop. For the next thirty-one years, Barrett made no public appearances. The last time he ever voluntarily spoke to a journalist, other than telling them to go away, was in 1982, just after he'd moved back to Cambridge, when someone doorstopped him and he answered a few questions and posed for a photo before saying "OK! That's enough, this is distressing for me, thank you." He had the reputation for the rest of his life of being a shut-in, a recluse, an acid casualty. His family, on the other hand, have always claimed that while he was never particularly mentally or physically healthy, he wasn't a shut-in, and would go to the pub, meet up with his mother a couple of times a week to go shopping, and chat to the women behind the counter at Sainsbury's and at the pharmacy. He was also apparently very good with children who lived in the neighbourhood. Whatever the truth of his final decades, though, however mentally well or unwell he actually was, one thing is very clear, which is that he was an extremely private man, who did not want attention, and who was greatly distressed by the constant stream of people coming and looking through his letterbox, trying to take photos of him, trying to interview him, and so on. Everyone on his street knew that when people came asking which was Syd Barrett's house, they were meant to say that no-one of that name lived there -- and they were telling the truth. By the time he moved back, he had stopped answering to "Syd" altogether, and according to his sister "He came to hate the name latterly, and what it meant." He did, in 2001, go round to his sister's house to watch a documentary about himself on the TV -- he didn't own a TV himself -- but he didn't enjoy it and his only comment was that the music was too noisy. By this point he never listened to rock music, just to jazz and classical music, usually on the radio. He was financially secure -- Dave Gilmour made sure that when compilations came out they always included some music from Barrett's period in the group so he would receive royalties, even though Gilmour had no contact with him after 1975 -- and he spent most of his time painting -- he would take photos of the paintings when they were completed, and then burn the originals. There are many stories about those last few decades, but given how much he valued his privacy, it wouldn't be right to share them. This is a history of rock music, and 1975 was the last time Roger Keith Barrett ever had anything to do with rock music voluntarily. He died of cancer in 2006, and at his funeral there was a reading from The Little Grey Men, which was also quoted in the Order of Service -- "The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours lights and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.” There was no rock music played at Barrett's funeral -- instead there were a selection of pieces by Handel, Haydn, and Bach, ending with Bach's Allemande from the Partita No. IV in D major, one of his favourite pieces: [Excerpt: Glenn Gould, "Allemande from the Partita No. IV in D major"] As they stared blankly in dumb misery deepening as they slowly realised all they had seen and all they had lost, a capricious little breeze, dancing up from the surface of the water, tossed the aspens, shook the dewy roses and blew lightly and caressingly in their faces; and with its soft touch came instant oblivion. For this is the last best gift that the kindly demi-god is careful to bestow on those to whom he has revealed himself in their helping: the gift of forgetfulness. Lest the awful remembrance should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth and pleasure, and the great haunting memory should spoil all the after-lives of little animals helped out of difficulties, in order that they should be happy and lighthearted as before. Mole rubbed his eyes and stared at Rat, who was looking about him in a puzzled sort of way. “I beg your pardon; what did you say, Rat?” he asked. “I think I was only remarking,” said Rat slowly, “that this was the right sort of place, and that here, if anywhere, we should find him. And look! Why, there he is, the little fellow!” And with a cry of delight he ran towards the slumbering Portly. But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, and can re-capture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty of it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties; so Mole, after struggling with his memory for a brief space, shook his head sadly and followed the Rat.
1. Marlon Williams 2. The Beatles 3. Jenny Mitchell 4. Suede 5. Spizzenergi 6. Colleen Sexton et al 7. Shriekback 8. Shawn Colvan/Steve Earle 9. The Romantics 10. Tom Waits 11. Pixies 12. Ewan MacColl 13. The Chills 14. Son Vault 15. The Afghan Whigs 16. Buddy Guy w/Wendy Moten
Hard Rain & Slow Trains: Bob Dylan & Fellow Travelers
This episode continues a monthly, ten-part series celebrating the tenth anniversary of TEMPEST, featuring the second track on the album, "Soon After Midnight," through songs that influenced its composition, live versions, cover versions, and also through a consideration of the song's meaning and allusions. In "20 Pounds of Headlines," we round up news from the world of Bob Dylan, which includes an overview of Dylan's tour itinerary for the upcoming week, a report on Dylan's sale of his Traveling Wilburys share of master royalties and neighboring rights royalties to Primary Wave Music, a report that T-Bone Burnett is still looking to release 20 more recordings by the New Basement Tapes of songs created from unfinished BASEMENT TAPES era lyrics, and a happy birthday to a special figure of cultural significance. In "Who Did It Better?" we ask you to vote this week to tell us who did "Soon After Midnight" better: Aoife O'Donovan or John Glase & The Burnt Remains? Listen to the episode, then go to our Twitter page @RainTrains to vote!
Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American musician, singer, composer, songwriter and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse musicians of his generation. On a number of occasions Zappa appeared in radio show slots, airing and generally discussing his favored music, or occasionally guesting on a 'club turntable', describing himself as a 'Fraudulent DJ'. In this episode, part one of a series of two, all the tracks in chronological order as selected by Zappa (with exception of most of his own tracks) for all his DJ appearances that have been documented, and that took place between 1968 and 1984. Lineup: Frank Zappa, The Mothers Of Invention, Ewan MacColl, The Hollywood Persuaders, Pierre Boulez, Hilary Summers, Ensemble Intercontemporain, The Dreamlovers, The Penguins, Charles Mingus, Frankie Lee Sims, Vernon Green & The Medallions, Richard Berry & The Dreamers, The Paragons, Big Moose, The Turbans, Johnny Guitar Watson, The Spaniels, J.B. Lenoir, Vernon Green, The Medallions, Bill Haley & His Comets, The Chips, The Velvets, Richard Berry & The Pharaohs, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, The Feathers, Don & Dewey, The Jewels, The Cufflinks, Johnny Ace, Wilbur Whitfield & The Pleasers, Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, Jackie & The Starlites, The Cellos, The Rolling Crew, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Paul Robeson, Huey 'Piano' Smith, Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, The Six Teens, The Laurie Sisters, Lloyd Terrell, Ruben And The Jets, The Hawks, The Olympics, Andre Williams, The Gaylarks, Little Sunny Day and the Clouds, The Clovers, The Harptones, Baby Ray And The Ferns, Muddy Waters, The Shaggs, Richard Berry, The Robins, Bob Landers, Willie Joe, Tony Allen, Peppermint Harris, The El Dorados, The 5 Campbells, Elmore James, The Moonlighters, Don Julian, The Larks, Lloyd Price, The Solitaires, Black Oak Arkansas, Edgard Varèse, Frederic Waldman, NY Wind Ensemble, Olivier Messiaen, BBC Symphony OrchestraAntal Dorati, Antal Doráti, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Anton Webern, Nürnberg Symphony Orchestra, Othmar Maga
“Todo iba bien hasta que Lady Saw comenzó a hacer todo aquel rap patois que era claramente sexual, mencionando a John y más o menos proponiéndole. El pobre John se puso colorado y no sabía dónde mirar. Hermeet y yo estábamos luchando para parar de reírnos”. Louise Kattenhorn Con José Manuel Corrales.
“Todo iba bien hasta que Lady Saw comenzó a hacer todo aquel rap patois que era claramente sexual, mencionando a John y más o menos proponiéndole. El pobre John se puso colorado y no sabía dónde mirar. Hermeet y yo estábamos luchando para parar de reírnos”. Louise Kattenhorn Con José Manuel Corrales.
Episode XXXI looks at possible influences for the tune to a Ewan MacColl song and features piping, fiddling, singing, tunes that sound like other tunes, the Cradle ov Filth and more! Tracklist: Peat and Diesel – Western Isles Joe Byrne – Snowy Breasted Pearl Luke Kelly – The Bonnie Shoals of Herring Ewan MacColl – The Famous Flower of Serving Men Matt Cranitch, Paul De Grae & Jackie Daly – Sliabh na mBan Mama's Broke – Just Pick One Unknown Suonata For Bagpipe And Triangle Rättviks Spelmanslag - Gärdebylåten, gånglåt (Marching Tune from Gärdeby) Elizabeth Cronin – Níl Mo Shláinte ar Fónamh Elizabeth Cronin – Ten Weary Years Early Grave Band – Nuke Power C.B. Fernando & H.D Manuel – Manaram Sidevi The Clovers – Rotten Cocksucker's Ball https://campsite.bio/firedrawnear
Membership in the Knights of Labor declines due to competition from other unions as well as their alleged involvement in the Chicago Haymarket Affair. Music: Come My Little Son by Ewan MacColl, arranged and performed by Sam James.
Wapx078 Dans cet épisode : Flavien Le Bailly Dreaming about space Matthew Kent Turning classical music into pop songs Joseph Magdelaine RTL remix The Beatles Music Machine Covers : Robyn Adele Anderson : Smoke on the water WDR Funhausorchester : Thriller Mark Snow : XFiles theme Betraying the martyrs : Let it go Les Enfants du Rock : Peter Gabriel et son Fairlight Sons zarbi : Dr Kritz : COVID song Benn : Eh ben c'est bien, Nils Greg Solomon : Cornemuse Klaudia Sobotka : Wannabe Red Hot - Show must go on as a James Bond Theme Giorno Giovanna meets electricity Them Viral Musicians Andrew Huang : Making music with soap Jacob Collier harmonise son public Trucs en vrac : Polyphone Philip Bowen : violon sur Coolio The Beatles vs Li'l Nas X 14 strings guitar solo Shine on you crazy diamond dans la rue et par David Gilmour La +BCdM : Roberta Flack : First time ever I saw your face par Peggy Seeger - The Kingston Trio - Peter, Paul & Mary - Elvis Presley - Joe & Eddie - Johnny Cash Scarborough Fair par Ewan MacColl et par Simon & Garfunkel La Playlist de la +BCdM : sur le Tube à Walter sur Spotify (merci John Cytron) sur Deezer (merci MaO de Paris) sur Amazon Music (merci Hellxions) et sur Apple Music (merci Yawourt) Voter pour la Plus Belle Chanson du Monde Le son mystère (41'20) : Alfred Hitchcock - 1969 Avec : Fanny Gauthier MaO Aude Danny Mist-e-Fire Cirbafe Pop goes the WZA Picaboubx Grincheux Fabrice Pincho David Merci à : Guillaume Pierre Journel K Rot Mr Johns Barberouss Phil Goud Christophe Randall Flagg Didier Gauthier Che Averell Stéphane LYC Podcasts & liens cités : La Chaîne Guitare Les Yeux Clos La Nuit sans image Hervé Coiral SplitScreen Oxymut Le générique de fin est signé Cousbou email@example.com
The red-haired Joanna Hiffernan was James McNeill Whistler's Woman in White. An exhibition curated by Margaret MacDonald for the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the National Gallery of Art, Washington uncovers the role she played in his career. An instagram account about the women painted by Viennese artist Egon Schiele has amassed over 100,000 followers. Now Sophie Haydock is publishing a novel called The Flames, which imagines the story of Schiele's wife and three other women who modelled for him. Ilona Sagar has been working for over 2 years in social care services and community settings in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham to make art reflecting the consequences of asbestos exposure involving social workers, carers, organisers and residents. Shahidha Bari hosts a conversation about famous artists and their sometimes less famous models. Whistler's Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan runs at the Royal Academy in London from 26 February — 22 May 2022 https://www.ilonasagar.com/ https://www.serpentinegalleries.org/whats-on/radio-ballads/ On view at Serpentine (31 March – 29 May) and Barking Town Hall and Learning Centre (2-17 April), Radio Ballads presents new film commissions alongside paintings, drawings and contextual materials that share each project's collaborative research process. The original documentary series Radio Ballads produced by musicians Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, working with radio producer Charlie Parker, were broadcast by the BBC from 1957–64. Sophie Haydock's novel The Flames is published in March 2022. Producer: Torquil MacLeod You can find a playlist on the Free Thinking website exploring Art, Architecture, Photography and Museums with discussions on colour, trompe l'oeil, world's fairs, and guests including Veronica Ryan, Jennifer Higgie, Eric Parry and Alison Brooks, the directors of museums in London, Paris, Singapore, Los Angeles, Washington https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p026wnjl
Invité : Benoît de Tréglodé, directeur du domaine « Afrique, Asie, Moyen-Orient » à l'IRSEM, 3:00 La naissance du Vietnam par opposition à l'occupation et à la présence chinoise 8:30 L'arrivée de la France et la parenthèse coloniale française 18:30 La montée du communisme au Vietnam 23:00 L'indépendance vietnamienne, et la bipartition à la sortie de la guerre d'indépendance 31:00 La sortie de la guerre du Vietnam et l'occupation du Cambodge 46:00 Les mues de l'appareil militaire vietnamien et la réorientation vers la mer 49:30 La question posées en mer de Chine du sud 59:00 Le Vietnam et les puissances régionales face à la montée chinoise Extrait audio : Ewan MacColl with the London Critics Group, "The Ballad of Hô Chi Minh", 1954 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjzMWumVhV8
This Day in Rock History with Jimmy The Governor
"My function is not to reassure people. I want to make them uncomfortable." - Ewan MacColl
RESISTANCE AT RED HILL VALLEY - How can you expect the birds to sing when their groves are cut down? Radio Free School - Originally aired on CFMU 93.3 FM in Hamilton Ontario, Wednesday, August 20, 2003 music - Legal/Illegal, Ewan MacColl, Best of Broadside interviews - kids aged 8 to 11-years at Greenhill Avenue supporting efforts to prevent the Red Hill Creek Expressway from ruining their play area/lungs/quality of life, etc. music - parkette, Bob Snider, Caterwaul & Doggerel interview - Heather Wilson & children at the Greenhill Community Garden of Hope, and Heather at Dufferin Construction Headquarters "cementing our memories" music - The World Turned Upside Down, Billy Bragg, Back to Basics interview - Don McLean (Friends of Red Hill Valley) and Larry DiIanni (city councillor and chair Expressway Implementation Committee) about the threat of civil suits levelled at protesters by the city...and anarchy. music - Out of nothing comes nothing, Randy, You Can't Keep a Good Band Down interview - The need to act, Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States music - We shall not be moved, SNCC Freedom Singers led by Rutha Harris, Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs 1960-1966. interview - Joe Staruck, neighbour whose property backs onto the proposed construction site for the Expressway on-ramp at Greenhill music - Know your rights, the Clash, Combat Rock interview - Brian Tammi, picket at Albright Road on the first day of blockades. music - Which side are you on? Billy Bragg, Back to Basics interview - Ken Stone, on the megaphone (that rhymes!) music - Will the circle be unbroken, Jimmy Collier and the Movement SIngers led by Diane Smith Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs 1960-1966. tech - randy
Pianist Igor Levit talks to Tom Service about his latest epic recording project – three and a half hours of music by Dmitri Shostakovich and the Scottish composer Ronald Stevenson. No stranger to large-scale works he live-streamed Erik Satie's Vexations during lockdown playing 840 repetitions over 16 hours as part of his online House Concerts. He discusses the huge challenges on every page of Stevenson's Passacaglia and the contradictions of his life as a pianist and his political beliefs. Folk singer Martin Carthy and former High Court judge and part-time song collector Stephen Sedley join Tom to talk about their new book, ‘Who Killed Cock Robin: British Folk Songs of Crime and Punishment', which explores the legal and moral basis of some of the most moving songs in the folk traditions of the country. We hear recordings by Martin Carthy, Shirley Collins, Rachel Newton and a 1953 archive recording of Ewan MacColl singing ‘McCaffery', provided by the School of Scottish Studies Archives. As Russians go to the polls, we look at what the recent decline in freedoms means for artists and musicians in and out of the country. Tom speaks to Masha Alekhina, co-founder of the musical and protest collective Pussy Riot, who has just been sentenced to a year of ‘restricted freedom' for promoting protests in support of the jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. We're also joined by the BBC's Moscow correspondent Sarah Rainsford who was recently expelled from Russia after more than 20 years of reporting from Moscow, and pianist Katya Apekisheva who, alongside hundreds of other classical musicians, signed a letter to Vladimir Putin in February calling for the release of Alexei Navalny. And composer Joseph Horovitz shares stories from his life in music. Having fled Vienna as a child in 1938, he began his musical career in Britain as a music lecturer for the army before working as a ballet conductor and finally a composer. His music draws on a huge range of styles, especially jazz, as can be heard in his Jazz Harpsichord Concerto which was performed by Mahan Esfahani and the Manchester Collective at this year's Proms. He talks to Tom about how his deeply personal fifth string quartet reflects his experiences of escaping Vienna, and how he finds new inspiration every day from the music around him.
“When I Hear The Music” Indira May has the kind of voice that will bring you to your knees. Self-possessed, sonorous and imbued with the kind of phrasing that's so emotionally precise it almost feels supernatural, May is a revelation. Her new EP Simpler Things is a ravishing blend of trip-hop, jazz and indie soul—trust us: it's a straight up stunner and one listen makes it clear that for this artist the sky is indeed the limit. And, Indira's got her own music and production company called Trash Films and Music and her company is really one to watch. Yes, she's learned by having cool parents and paying attention to their work ethic and their grace, but Indira is now making her own mark on the music world and setting examples of her own. Now a while back we had her dad Tim May on the program—Tim was in a band in the '80s called The Righteous Boys that signed with CBS, and after that band ended he went on to become a filmmaker, making documentaries for the BBC's multi-award winning arts strand Arena. There his subjects included Paul McCartney and folk legend, Ewan MacColl; He runs Strange Films and Music with his wife, the writer and director Karen Stowe—they produce films for agencies, brands and companies. And they make documentaries. Their latest is You Can't Go Back, which is a fabulous movie about Del Amitri and if you think Tim sounds busy, he is. His band Aliens are set to release their brilliant new album and we could go on and on about Aliens because we love them, but there's so much Aliens news happening, we'll revisit it on a future show. In this chat, Indira talks to us about her vision for Trash Films And Music, growing up feeling supported in her music by her parents and how she triumphed over adversity to film the winning video for the EP's first single, “When I Hear The Music.” www.trashfilmsandmusic..com www.strangefilmsandmusic.com www.bombshellradio.com Stereo Embers Twitter: @emberseditor Instagram: @emberspodcast Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ewan MacColl sang "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" to Peggy Seeger down the phone. When they met, Peggy says, he was in the grip of his midlife crisis. "I'm fond of saying the poor boy didn't stand a chance," she tells Matthew Parris. This programme is her attempt to set the record straight. "I'd like to do a bit of justice to him, because there's an awful lot of myths, an awful lot of bad talk, misunderstandings." Ewan MacColl was born Jimmy Miller in Salford, which he wrote about in 1949 in his song, "Dirty Old Town." He made his name in theatre, was married to Joan Littlewood, and after the Second World War he was a powerful force behind the folk revival. He also with Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker created the famous Radio Ballads. Peggy is joined in discussion by Peter Cox, author of Set Into Song. The programme is heavily illustrated with MacColl's music and his voice. The producer for BBC audio in Bristol is Miles Warde
D-Sides, Orphans, and Oddities
You know, as long as there've been lady parts and attendant man parts to go into them, abortion has been practiced. It always will be. No law can change it either way. The only thing that laws like Roe do is give a safe, clean room in which to practice the fetal cell-smooshing arts for the poorest and least advantaged of us. That seems to be the real reason people wave signs and chant their religious nonsense. Taking things away from people they think are less deserving. Because as my old mistress Missy Quinn said (and I'm paraphrasing) if you can't trust a woman with a choice, how can you trust her with a child? Bill Seluga - Dancin' Johnson (1978) Bill Seluga was a founding member of the improv comedy troupe Ace Trucking Company. His Raymond J. Johnson bit was pretty much that, a bit. He was probably best known for the bit "But ya doesn't have to call me Johnson". It was the voice and the repetitiveness that was supposed to be funny. In the '70s, it was. The Ace Trucking Company was active from the late '60s through the mid-'70s and was frequently on variety programs like The Tonight Show, Mike Douglas, Dick Cavett, and The Midnight Special. Fred Willard was in this group So was Patty Deutsch, who was also in the later incarnation of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, as well as the Exorcist parody album The Hexorcist. I could go on and on. Cold Chisel - Choirgirl (1980) Kinky Friedman - Rapid City, South Dakota (1974) Abortion Suite: Victor Buono - I Am (1971) American actor and comedian. Six foot four and tipping the scales at some 400 pounds, Victor Buono often played the "heavy" on screen. A 1971 album Heavy! charted, thanks in no small part to Victor's performance of the "Fat Man's Prayer" on The Tonight Show. He also played the role of King Tut in the '60s Batman series. The Gaunga Dyns - Rebecca Rodifer (1967) Peggy Seeger - Nine-Month Blues (1979) Discogs: Peggy Seeger (born June 17, 1935, New York City) is an American folksinger. She is also well known in Britain, where she lived for more than 30 years with her husband, songwriter Ewan MacColl. The well-known Pete Seeger is her half-brother. Gary Paxton - The Big "A" = The Big "M" (1978) Malvina Reynolds - Rosie Jane (1975) Lee Hazlewood - I'll Live Yesterdays (1971) Harry Chapin - Woman Child (1972) Sylvain Sylvain - Formidable (1981) Lorene Mann - Hide My Sin (A-b-o-r-t-i-o-n N-e-w Y-o-r-k) (1972) Hmm. Same label and backing vocalists as Elvis. End of Abortion Suite. Adam & Eve - Hey Neandertal Man (1970) I Nuovi Angeli - L'uomo di Neanderthal (1970) Harlem Underground Band - Smokin Cheeba Cheeba (1976) John Farrar - Falling (1980) Kin Ping Meh - Come Together (1972) Syreeta - How Many Days (1972) Dave Clark Five - Good Old Rock and Roll (1969) The Holy Mackerel - Wildflowers (1968) Todd Rundgren - Tin-Foil Hat (2017) Featuring Donald Fagen. John Travolta - What Would They Say (1978) American Spring - This Whole World (1972) Denny Laine - The Blues (1973) Three Dog Night - A Change is Gonna Come (1969) Michael Nagy (Naj) - A Clever Man (1998) Adriano Celentano - Pregherò (1962) Barry McGuire - This Precious Time (1965) Cindy und Bert - Im Fieber Der Nacht (1978) Elvis Presley - Proud Mary (1972) Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - Hickory (1974) Gary Lewis and the Playboys - Then Again Maybe (1972) Frank Zappa - I Don't Wanna Get Drafted (1980)
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode one hundred and twenty-eight of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds, and the start of LA folk-rock. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Erratum The version of this originally uploaded got the date of the Dylan tour filmed for Don't Look Back wrong. I edited out the half-sentence in question when this was pointed out to me very shortly after uploading. Resources As usual, I've created a Mixcloud streaming playlist with full versions of all the songs in the episode (with the exception of the early Gene Clark demo snippet, which I've not been able to find a longer version of). For information on Dylan and the song, I've mostly used these books: Bob Dylan: All The Songs by Phillipe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon is a song-by-song look at every song Dylan ever wrote, as is Revolution in the Air, by Clinton Heylin. Heylin also wrote the most comprehensive and accurate biography of Dylan, Behind the Shades. I've also used Robert Shelton's No Direction Home, which is less accurate, but which is written by someone who knew Dylan. While for the Byrds, I relied mostly on Timeless Flight Revisited by Johnny Rogan, with some information from Chris Hillman's autobiography. This three-CD set is a reasonable way of getting most of the Byrds' important recordings, while this contains the pre-Byrds recordings the group members did with Jim Dickson. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Today we're going to take a look at one of the pivotal recordings in folk-rock music, a track which, though it was not by any means the first folk-rock record, came to define the subgenre in the minds of the listening public, and which by bringing together the disparate threads of influence from Bob Dylan, the Searchers, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys, manages to be arguably the record that defines early 1965. We're going to look at "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds: [Excerpt: The Byrds, "Mr. Tambourine Man"] Folk-rock as a genre was something that was bound to happen sooner rather than later. We've already seen how many of the British R&B bands that were becoming popular in the US were influenced by folk music, with records like "House of the Rising Sun" taking traditional folk songs and repurposing them for a rock idiom. And as soon as British bands started to have a big influence on American music, that would have to inspire a reassessment by American musicians of their own folk music. Because of course, while the British bands were inspired by rock and roll, they were all also coming from a skiffle tradition which saw Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Big Bill Broonzy, and the rest as being the people to emulate, and that would show up in their music. Most of the British bands came from the bluesier end of the folk tradition -- with the exception of the Liverpool bands, who pretty much all liked their Black music on the poppy side and their roots music to be more in a country vein -- but they were still all playing music which showed the clear influence of country and folk as well as blues. And that influence was particularly obvious to those American musicians who were suddenly interested in becoming rock and roll stars, but who had previously been folkies. Musicians like Gene Clark. Gene Clark was born in Missouri, and had formed a rock and roll group in his teens called Joe Meyers and the Sharks. According to many biographies, the Sharks put out a record of Clark's song "Blue Ribbons", but as far as I've been able to tell, this was Clark embellishing things a great deal -- the only evidence of this song that anyone has been able to find is a home recording from this time, of which a few seconds were used in a documentary on Clark: [Excerpt: Gene Clark, "Blue Ribbons"] After his period in the Sharks, Clark became a folk singer, starting out in a group called the Surf Riders. But in August 1963 he was spotted by the New Christy Minstrels, a fourteen-piece ultra-commercial folk group who had just released a big hit single, "Green Green", with a lead sung by one of their members, Barry McGuire: [Excerpt: The New Christy Minstrels, "Green Green"] Clark was hired to replace a departing member, and joined the group, who as well as McGuire at that time also included Larry Ramos, who would later go on to join The Association and sing joint lead on their big hit "Never My Love": [Excerpt: The Association, "Never My Love"] Clark was only in the New Christy Minstrels for a few months, but he appeared on several of their albums -- they recorded four albums during the months he was with the group, but there's some debate as to whether he appeared on all of them, as he may have missed some recording sessions when he had a cold. Clark didn't get much opportunity to sing lead on the records, but he was more prominent in live performances, and can be seen and heard in the many TV appearances the group did in late 1963: [Excerpt: The New Christy Minstrels, "Julianne"] But Clark was not a good fit for the group -- he didn't put himself forward very much, which meant he didn't get many lead vocals, which meant in turn that he seemed not to be pulling his weight. But the thing that really changed his mind came in late 1963, on tour in Canada, when he heard this: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "She Loves You"] Clark knew instantly that that was the kind of music he wanted to be making, and when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" came out in the US soon afterwards, it was the impetus that Clark needed in order to quit the group and move to California. There he visited the Troubadour club in Los Angeles, and saw another performer who had been in an ultra-commercial folk group until he had been bitten by the Beatle bug -- Roger McGuinn. One note here -- Roger McGuinn at this point used his birth name, but he changed it for religious reasons in 1967. I've been unable to find out his views on his old name -- whether he considers it closer to a trans person's deadname which would be disrespectful to mention, or to something like Reg Dwight becoming Elton John or David Jones becoming David Bowie. As I presume everyone listening to this has access to a search engine and can find out his birth name if at all interested, I'll be using "Roger McGuinn" throughout this episode, and any other episodes that deal with him, at least until I find out for certain how he feels about the use of that name. McGuinn had grown up in Chicago, and become obsessed with the guitar after seeing Elvis on TV in 1956, but as rockabilly had waned in popularity he had moved into folk music, taking lessons from Frank Hamilton, a musician who had played in a group with Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and who would later go on to join a 1960s lineup of the Weavers. Hamilton taught McGuinn Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie songs, and taught him how to play the banjo. Hamilton also gave McGuinn an enthusiasm for the twelve-string guitar, an instrument that had been popular among folk musicians like Lead Belly, but which had largely fallen out of fashion. McGuinn became a regular in the audience at the Gate of Horn, a folk club owned by Albert Grossman, who would later become Bob Dylan's manager, and watched performers like Odetta and Josh White. He also built up his own small repertoire of songs by people like Ewan MacColl, which he would perform at coffee shops. At one of those coffee shops he was seen by a member of the Limeliters, one of the many Kingston Trio-alike groups that had come up during the folk boom. The Limeliters were after a guitarist to back them, and offered McGuinn the job. He turned it down at first, as he was still in school, but as it turned out the job was still open when he graduated, and so young McGuinn found himself straight out of school playing the Hollywood Bowl on a bill including Eartha Kitt. McGuinn only played with the Limeliters for six weeks, but in that short time he ended up playing on a top five album, as he was with them at the Ash Grove when they recorded their live album Tonight in Person: [Excerpt: The Limeliters, "Madeira, M'Dear"] After being sacked by the Limeliters, McGuinn spent a short while playing the clubs around LA, before being hired by another commercial folk group, the Chad Mitchell Trio, who like the Limeliters before them needed an accompanist. McGuinn wasn't particularly happy working with the trio, who in his telling regarded themselves as the stars and McGuinn very much as the hired help. He also didn't respect them as musicians, and thought they were little to do with folk music as he understood the term. Despite this, McGuinn stayed with the Chad Mitchell Trio for two and a half years, and played on two albums with them -- Mighty Day on Campus, and Live at the Bitter End: [Excerpt: The Chad Mitchell Trio, "The John Birch Society" ] McGuinn stuck it out with the Chad Mitchell trio until his twentieth birthday, and he was just about to accept an offer to join the New Christy Minstrels himself when he got a better one. Bobby Darin was in the audience at a Chad Mitchell Trio show, and approached McGuinn afterwards. Darin had started out in the music business as a songwriter, working with his friend Don Kirshner, but had had some success in the late fifties and early sixties as one of the interchangeable teen idol Bobbies who would appear on American Bandstand, with records like "Dream Lover" and "Splish Splash": [Excerpt: Bobby Darin, "Splish Splash"] But Darin had always been more musically adventurous than most of his contemporaries, and with his hit version of "Mack the Knife" he had successfully moved into the adult cabaret market. And like other singers breaking into that market, like Sam Cooke, he had decided to incorporate folk music into his act. He would do his big-band set, then there would be a fifteen-minute set of folk songs, backed just by guitar and stand-up bass. Darin wanted McGuinn to be his guitarist and backing vocalist for these folk sets, and offered to double what the Chad Mitchell Trio was paying him. Darin wasn't just impressed with McGuinn's musicianship -- he also liked his showmanship, which came mostly from McGuinn being bored and mildly disgusted with the music he was playing on stage. He would pull faces behind the Chad Mitchell Trio's back, the audience would laugh, and the trio would think the laughter was for them. For a while, McGuinn was happy playing with Darin, who he later talked about as being a mentor. But then Darin had some vocal problems and had to take some time off the road. However, he didn't drop McGuinn altogether -- rather, he gave him a job in the Brill Building, writing songs for Darin's publishing company. One of the songs he wrote there was "Beach Ball", co-written with Frank Gari. A knock-off of "Da Doo Ron Ron", retooled as a beach party song, the recording released as by the City Surfers apparently features McGuinn, Gari, Darin on drums and Terry Melcher on piano: [Excerpt: The City Surfers, "Beach Ball"] That wasn't a hit, but a cover version by Jimmy Hannan was a local hit in Melbourne, Australia: [Excerpt: Jimmy Hannan “Beach Ball”] That record is mostly notable for its backing vocalists, three brothers who would soon go on to become famous as the Bee Gees. Darin soon advised McGuinn that if he really wanted to become successful, he should become a rock and roll singer, and so McGuinn left Darin's employ and struck out as a solo performer, playing folk songs with a rock backbeat around Greenwich Village, before joining a Beatles tribute act playing clubs around New York. He was given further encouragement by Dion DiMucci, another late-fifties singer who like Darin was trying to make the transition to playing for adult crowds. DiMucci had been lead singer of Dion and the Belmonts, but had had more success as a solo act with records like "The Wanderer": [Excerpt: Dion, "The Wanderer"] Dion was insistent that McGuinn had something -- that he wasn't just imitating the Beatles, as he thought, but that he was doing something a little more original. Encouraged by Dion, McGuinn made his way west to LA, where he was playing the Troubadour supporting Roger Miller, when Gene Clark walked in. Clark saw McGuinn as a kindred spirit -- another folkie who'd had his musical world revolutionised by the Beatles -- and suggested that the two become a duo, performing in the style of Peter and Gordon, the British duo who'd recently had a big hit with "World Without Love", a song written for them by Paul McCartney: [Excerpt: Peter and Gordon, "World Without Love"] The duo act didn't last long though, because they were soon joined by a third singer, David Crosby. Crosby had grown up in LA -- his father, Floyd Crosby, was an award-winning cinematographer, who had won an Oscar for his work on Tabu: A Story of the South Seas, and a Golden Globe for High Noon, but is now best known for his wonderfully lurid work on a whole series of films starring Vincent Price, including The Pit and the Pendulum, House of Usher, Tales of Terror, and Comedy of Terrors. Like many children of privilege, David had been a spoiled child, and he had taken to burglary for kicks, and had impregnated a schoolfriend and then run off rather than take responsibility for the child. Travelling across the US as a way to escape the consequences of his actions, he had spent some time hanging out with musicians like Fred Neil, Paul Kantner, and Travis Edmondson, the latter of whom had recorded a version of Crosby's first song, "Cross the Plains": [Excerpt: Travis Edmondson, "Cross the Plains"] Edmondson had also introduced Crosby to cannabis, and Crosby soon took to smoking everything he could, even once smoking aspirin to see if he could get high from that. When he'd run out of money, Crosby, like Clark and McGuinn, had joined an ultra-commercial folk group. In Crosby's case it was Les Baxter's Balladeers, put together by the bandleader who was better known for his exotica recordings. While Crosby was in the Balladeers, they were recorded for an album called "Jack Linkletter Presents A Folk Festival", a compilation of live recordings hosted by the host of Hootenanny: [Excerpt: Les Baxter's Balladeers, "Ride Up"] It's possible that Crosby got the job with Baxter through his father's connections -- Baxter did the music for many films made by Roger Corman, the producer and director of those Vincent Price films. Either way, Crosby didn't last long in the Balladeers. After he left the group, he started performing solo sets, playing folk music but with a jazz tinge to it -- Crosby was already interested in pushing the boundaries of what chords and melodies could be used in folk. Crosby didn't go down particularly well with the folk-club crowds, but he did impress one man. Jim Dickson had got into the music industry more or less by accident -- he had seen the comedian Lord Buckley, a white man who did satirical routines in a hipsterish argot that owed more than a little to Black slang, and had been impressed by him. He had recorded Buckley with his own money, and had put out Buckley's first album Hipsters, Flipsters and Finger Poppin' Daddies, Knock Me Your Lobes on his own label, before selling the rights of the album to Elektra records: [Excerpt: Lord Buckley, "Friends, Romans, Countrymen"] Dickson had gone on to become a freelance producer, often getting his records put out by Elektra, making both jazz records with people like Red Mitchell: [Excerpt: Red Mitchell, "Jim's Blues"] And country, folk, and bluegrass records, with people like the Dillards, whose first few albums he produced: [Excerpt: The Dillards, "Duelling Banjos"] Dickson had also recently started up a publishing company, Tickson Music, with a partner, and the first song they had published had been written by a friend of Crosby's, Dino Valenti, with whom at one point Crosby had shared a houseboat: [Excerpt: Dino Valenti, "Get Together"] Unfortunately for Dickson, before that song became a big hit for the Youngbloods, he had had to sell the rights to it, to the Kingston Trio's managers, as Valenti had been arrested and needed bail money, and it was the only way to raise the funds required. Dickson liked Crosby's performance, and became his manager. Dickson had access to a recording studio, and started recording Crosby singing traditional songs and songs to which Dickson owned the copyright -- at this point Crosby wasn't writing much, and so Dickson got him to record material like "Get Together": [Excerpt: David Crosby, "Get Together"] Unfortunately for Crosby, Dickson's initial idea, to get him signed to Warner Brothers records as a solo artist using those recordings, didn't work out. But Gene Clark had seen Crosby perform live and thought he was impressive. He told McGuinn about him, and the three men soon hit it off -- they were able to sing three-part harmony together as soon as they met. ( This is one characteristic of Crosby that acquaintances often note -- he's a natural harmony singer, and is able to fit his voice into pre-existing groups of other singers very easily, and make it sound natural). Crosby introduced the pair to Dickson, who had a brainwave. These were folkies, but they didn't really sing like folkies -- they'd grown up on rock and roll, and they were all listening to the Beatles now. There was a gap in the market, between the Beatles and Peter, Paul, and Mary, for something with harmonies, a soft sound, and a social conscience, but a rock and roll beat. Something that was intelligent, but still fun, and which could appeal to the screaming teenage girls and to the college kids who were listening to Dylan. In Crosby, McGuinn, and Clark, Dickson thought he had found the people who could do just that. The group named themselves The Jet Set -- a name thought up by McGuinn, who loved flying and everything about the air, and which they also thought gave them a certain sophistication -- and their first demo recording, with all three of them on twelve-string guitars, shows the direction they were going in. "The Only Girl I Adore", written by McGuinn and Clark, has what I can only assume is the group trying for Liverpool accents and failing miserably, and call and response and "yeah yeah" vocals that are clearly meant to evoke the Beatles. It actually does a remarkably good job of evoking some of Paul McCartney's melodic style -- but the rhythm guitar is pure Don Everly: [Excerpt: The Jet Set, "The Only Girl I Adore"] The Jet Set jettisoned their folk instruments for good after watching A Hard Day's Night -- Roger McGuinn traded in his banjo and got an electric twelve-string Rickenbacker just like the one that George Harrison played, and they went all-in on the British Invasion sound, copying the Beatles but also the Searchers, whose jangly sound was perfect for the Rickenbacker, and who had the same kind of solid harmony sound the Jet Set were going for. Of course, if you're going to try to sound like the Beatles and the Searchers, you need a drummer, and McGuinn and Crosby were both acquainted with a young man who had been born Michael Dick, but who had understandably changed his name to Michael Clarke. He was only eighteen, and wasn't a particularly good drummer, but he did have one huge advantage, which is that he looked exactly like Brian Jones. So the Jet Set now had a full lineup -- Roger McGuinn on lead guitar, Gene Clark on rhythm guitar, David Crosby was learning bass, and Michael Clarke on drums. But that wasn't the lineup on their first recordings. Crosby was finding it difficult to learn the bass, and Michael Clarke wasn't yet very proficient on drums, so for what became their first record Dickson decided to bring in a professional rhythm section, hiring two of the Wrecking Crew, bass player Ray Pohlman and drummer Earl Palmer, to back the three singers, with McGuinn and Gene Clark on guitars: [Excerpt: The Beefeaters, "Please Let Me Love You"] That was put out on a one-single deal with Elektra Records, and Jim Dickson made the deal under the condition that it couldn't be released under the group's real name -- he wanted to test what kind of potential they had without spoiling their reputation. So instead of being put out as by the Jet Set, it was put out as by the Beefeaters -- the kind of fake British name that a lot of American bands were using at the time, to try and make themselves seem like they might be British. The record did nothing, but nobody was expecting it to do much, so they weren't particularly bothered. And anyway, there was another problem to deal with. David Crosby had been finding it difficult to play bass and sing -- this was one reason that he only sang, and didn't play, on the Beefeaters single. His bass playing was wooden and rigid, and he wasn't getting better. So it was decided that Crosby would just sing, and not play anything at all. As a result, the group needed a new bass player, and Dickson knew someone who he thought would fit the bill, despite him not being a bass player. Chris Hillman had become a professional musician in his teens, playing mandolin in a bluegrass group called the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, who made one album of bluegrass standards for sale through supermarkets: [Excerpt: The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, "Shady Grove"] Hillman had moved on to a group called the Golden State Boys, which featured two brothers, Vern and Rex Gosdin. The Golden State Boys had been signed to a management contract by Dickson, who had renamed the group the Hillmen after their mandolin player -- Hillman was very much in the background in the group, and Dickson believed that he would be given a little more confidence if he was pushed to the front. The Hillmen had recorded one album, which wasn't released until many years later, and which had featured Hillman singing lead on the Bob Dylan song "When the Ship Comes In": [Excerpt: The Hillmen, "When the Ship Comes In"] Hillman had gone on from there to join a bluegrass group managed by Randy Sparks, the same person who was in charge of the New Christy Minstrels, and who specialised in putting out ultra-commercialised versions of roots music for pop audiences. But Dickson knew that Hillman didn't like playing with that group, and would be interested in doing something very different, so even though Hillman didn't play bass, Dickson invited him to join the group. There was almost another lineup change at this point, as well. McGuinn and Gene Clark were getting sick of David Crosby's attitude -- Crosby was the most technically knowledgeable musician in the group, but was at this point not much of a songwriter. He was not at all shy about pointing out what he considered flaws in the songs that McGuinn and Clark were writing, but he wasn't producing anything better himself. Eventually McGuinn and Clark decided to kick Crosby out of the group altogether, but they reconsidered when Dickson told them that if Crosby went he was going too. As far as Dickson was concerned, the group needed Crosby's vocals, and that was an end of the matter. Crosby was back in the group, and all was forgotten. But there was another problem related to Crosby, as the Jet Set found out when they played their first gig, an unannounced spot at the Troubadour. The group had perfected their image, with their Beatles suits and pose of studied cool, but Crosby had never performed without an instrument before. He spent the gig prancing around the stage, trying to act like a rock star, wiggling his bottom in what he thought was a suggestive manner. It wasn't, and the audience found it hilarious. Crosby, who took himself very seriously at this point in time, felt humiliated, and decided that he needed to get an instrument to play. Obviously he couldn't go back to playing bass, so he did the only thing that seemed possible -- he started undermining Gene Clark's confidence as a player, telling him he was playing behind the beat. Clark -- who was actually a perfectly reasonable rhythm player -- was non-confrontational by nature and believed Crosby's criticisms. Soon he *was* playing behind the beat, because his confidence had been shaken. Crosby took over the rhythm guitar role, and from that point on it would be Gene Clark, not David Crosby, who would have to go on stage without an instrument. The Jet Set were still not getting very many gigs, but they were constantly in the studio, working on material. The most notable song they recorded in this period is "You Showed Me", a song written by Gene Clark and McGuinn, which would not see release at the time but which would later become a hit for both the Turtles and the Lightning Seeds: [Excerpt: The Jet Set, "You Showed Me"] Clark in particular was flourishing as a songwriter, and becoming a genuine talent. But Jim Dickson thought that the song that had the best chance of being the Jet Set's breakout hit wasn't one that they were writing themselves, but one that he'd heard Bob Dylan perform in concert, but which Dylan had not yet released himself. In 1964, Dylan was writing far more material than he could reasonably record, even given the fact that his albums at this point often took little more time to record than to listen to. One song he'd written but not yet put out on an album was "Mr. Tambourine Man". Dylan had written the song in April 1964, and started performing it live as early as May, when he was on a UK tour that would later be memorialised in D.A. Pennebaker's film Don't Look Back. That performance was later released in 2014 for copyright extension purposes on vinyl, in a limited run of a hundred copies. I *believe* this recording is from that: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Mr. Tambourine Man (live Royal Festival Hall 1964)"] Jim Dickson remembered the song after seeing Dylan perform it live, and started pushing Witmark Music, Dylan's publishers, to send him a demo of the song. Dylan had recorded several demos, and the one that Witmark sent over was a version that was recorded with Ramblin' Jack Elliot singing harmony, recorded for Dylan's album Another Side of Bob Dylan, but left off the album as Elliot had been off key at points: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan and Ramblin' Jack Elliot, "Mr. Tambourine Man" (from Bootleg Series vol 7)] There have been all sorts of hypotheses about what "Mr. Tambourine Man" is really about. Robert Shelton, for example, suspects the song is inspired by Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an Opium Eater. de Quincey uses a term for opium, "the dark idol", which is supposedly a translation of the Latin phrase "mater tenebrarum", which actually means "mother of darkness" (or mother of death or mother of gloom). Shelton believes that Dylan probably liked the sound of "mater tenebrarum" and turned it into "Mister Tambourine Man". Others have tried to find links to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, or claimed that Mr. Tambourine Man is actually Jesus. Dylan, on the other hand, had a much more prosaic explanation -- that Mr. Tambourine Man was a friend of his named Bruce Langhorne, who was prominent in the Greenwich Village folk scene. As well as being a guitarist, Langhorne was also a percussionist, and played a large Turkish frame drum, several feet in diameter, which looked and sounded quite like a massively oversized tambourine. Dylan got that image in his head and wrote a song about it. Sometimes a tambourine is just a tambourine. (Also, in a neat little coincidence, Dylan has acknowledged that he took the phrase “jingle jangle” from a routine by Jim Dickson's old client, Lord Buckley.) Dickson was convinced that "Mr. Tambourine Man" would be a massive hit, but the group didn't like it. Gene Clark, who was at this point the group's only lead singer, didn't think it fit his voice or had anything in common with the songs he was writing. Roger McGuinn was nervous about doing a Dylan song, because he'd played at the same Greenwich Village clubs as Dylan when both were starting out -- he had felt a rivalry with Dylan then, and wasn't entirely comfortable with inviting comparisons with someone who had grown so much as an artist while McGuinn was still very much at the beginning of his career. And David Crosby simply didn't think that such a long, wordy, song had a chance of being a hit. So Dickson started to manipulate the group. First, since Clark didn't like singing the song, he gave the lead to McGuinn. The song now had one champion in the band, and McGuinn was also a good choice as he had a hypothesis that there was a space for a vocal sound that split the difference between John Lennon and Bob Dylan, and was trying to make himself sound like that -- not realising that Lennon himself was busily working on making his voice more Dylanesque at the same time. But that still wasn't enough -- even after Dickson worked with the group to cut the song down so it was only two choruses and one verse, and so came in under two minutes, rather than the five minutes that Dylan's original version lasted, Crosby in particular was still agitating that the group should just drop the song. So Dickson decided to bring in Dylan himself. Dickson was acquainted with Dylan, and told him that he was managing a Beatles-style group who were doing one of Dylan's songs, and invited him to come along to a rehearsal. Dylan came, partly out of politeness, but also because Dylan was as aware as anyone of the commercial realities of the music business. Dylan was making most of his money at this point as a songwriter, from having other people perform his songs, and he was well aware that the Beatles had changed what hit records sounded like. If the kids were listening to beat groups instead of to Peter, Paul, and Mary, then Dylan's continued commercial success relied on him getting beat groups to perform his songs. So he agreed to come and hear Jim Dickson's beat group, and see what he thought of what they were doing with his song. Of course, once the group realised that Dylan was going to be coming to listen to them, they decided that they had better actually work on their arrangement of the song. They came up with something that featured McGuinn's Searchers-style twelve-string playing, the group's trademark harmonies, and a rather incongruous-sounding marching beat: [Excerpt: The Jet Set, "Mr. Tambourine Man (early version)"] Dylan heard their performance, and was impressed, telling them "You can DANCE to it!" Dylan went on a charm offensive with the group, winning all of them round except Crosby -- but even Crosby stopped arguing the point, realising he'd lost. "Mr. Tambourine Man" was now a regular part of their repertoire. But they still didn't have a record deal, until one came from an unexpected direction. The group were playing their demos to a local promoter, Benny Shapiro, when Shapiro's teenage daughter came in to the room, excited because the music sounded so much like the Beatles. Shapiro later joked about this to the great jazz trumpet player Miles Davis, and Davis told his record label about this new group, and suddenly they were being signed to Columbia Records. "Mr. Tambourine Man" was going to be their first single, but before that they had to do something about the group's name, as Columbia pointed out that there was already a British group called the Jet Set. The group discussed this over Thanksgiving turkey, and the fact that they were eating a bird reminded Gene Clark of a song by the group's friend Dino Valenti, "Birdses": [Excerpt: Dino Valenti, "Birdses"] Clark suggested "The Birdses", but the group agreed it wasn't quite right -- though McGuinn, who was obsessed with aviation, did like the idea of a name that was associated with flight. Dickson's business partner Eddie Tickner suggested that they just call themselves "The Birds", but the group saw a problem with that, too -- "bird" being English slang for "girl", they worried that if they called themselves that people might think they were gay. So how about messing with the vowels, the same way the Beatles had changed the spelling of their name? They thought about Burds with a "u" and Berds with an "e", before McGuinn hit on Byrds with a y, which appealed to him because of Admiral Byrd, an explorer and pioneering aviator. They all agreed that the name was perfect -- it began with a "b", just like Beatles and Beach Boys, it was a pun like the Beatles, and it signified flight, which was important to McGuinn. As the group entered 1965, another major event happened in McGuinn's life -- the one that would lead to him changing his name. A while earlier, McGuinn had met a friend in Greenwich Village and had offered him a joint. The friend had refused, saying that he had something better than dope. McGuinn was intrigued to try this "something better" and went along with his friend to what turned out to be a religious meeting, of the new religious movement Subud, a group which believes, among other things, that there are seven levels of existence from gross matter to pure spirit, and which often encourages members to change their names. McGuinn was someone who was very much looking for meaning in his life -- around this time he also became a devotee of the self-help writer Norman Vincent Peale thanks to his mother sending him a copy of Peale's book on positive thinking -- and so he agreed to give the organisation a go. Subud involves a form of meditation called the laithan, and on his third attempt at doing this meditation, McGuinn had experienced what he believed was contact with God -- an intense hallucinatory experience which changed his life forever. McGuinn was initiated into Subud ten days before going into the studio to record "Mr. Tambourine Man", and according to his self-description, whatever Bob Dylan thought the song was about, he was singing to God when he sang it -- in earlier interviews he said he was singing to Allah, but now he's a born-again Christian he tends to use "God". The group had been assigned by CBS to Terry Melcher, mostly because he was the only staff producer they had on the West Coast who had any idea at all about rock and roll music, and Melcher immediately started to mould the group into his idea of what a pop group should be. For their first single, Melcher decided that he wasn't going to use the group, other than McGuinn, for anything other than vocals. Michael Clarke in particular was still a very shaky drummer (and would never be the best on his instrument) while Hillman and Crosby were adequate but not anything special on bass and guitar. Melcher knew that the group's sound depended on McGuinn's electric twelve-string sound, so he kept that, but other than that the Byrds' only contribution to the A-side was McGuinn, Crosby, and Clark on vocals. Everything else was supplied by members of the Wrecking Crew -- Jerry Cole on guitar, Larry Knechtel on bass, Leon Russell on electric piano, and Hal Blaine on drums: [Excerpt: The Byrds, "Mr. Tambourine Man"] Indeed, not everyone who performed at the session is even clearly audible on the recording. Both Gene Clark and Leon Russell were actually mixed out by Melcher -- both of them are audible, Clark more than Russell, but only because of leakage onto other people's microphones. The final arrangement was a mix of influences. McGuinn's twelve-string sound was clearly inspired by the Searchers, and the part he's playing is allegedly influenced by Bach, though I've never seen any noticeable resemblance to anything Bach ever wrote. The overall sound was an attempt to sound like the Beatles, while Melcher always said that the arrangement and feel of the track was inspired by "Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys. This is particularly noticeable in the bass part -- compare the part on the Beach Boys record: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Don't Worry Baby (instrumental mix with backing vocals)"] to the tag on the Byrds record: [Excerpt: The Byrds, "Mr. Tambourine Man"] Five days before the Byrds recorded their single, Bob Dylan had finally recorded his own version of the song, with the tambourine man himself, Bruce Langhorne, playing guitar, and it was released three weeks before the Byrds' version, as an album track on Dylan's Bringing it All Back Home: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Mr. Tambourine Man"] Dylan's album would become one of the most important of his career, as we'll discuss in a couple of weeks, when we next look at Dylan. But it also provided an additional publicity boost for the Byrds, and as a result their record quickly went to number one in both the UK and America, becoming the first record of a Dylan song to go to number one on any chart. Dylan's place in the new pop order was now secured; the Byrds had shown that American artists could compete with the British Invasion on its own terms -- that the new wave of guitar bands still had a place for Americans; and folk-rock was soon identified as the next big commercial trend. And over the next few weeks we'll see how all those things played out throughout the mid sixties.
The fifth edition of the “Sitting In” miniseries features a new project by international touring Irish musician Dylan Walshe. Steeped in the traditions of folk, Irish, Blues, Singer-songwriter and roots music, Dylan has received wide acclaim from all over, including Dave King of Flogging Molly who has said that “The future of songwriting is safe in the hands of this man.” This episode features Dylan's new music podcast, The Stirring Foot, and the first 20 minutes of a conversation he had with none other than Ramblin' Jack Elliot, who Dylan first met at Tennessee's Muddy Roots Music Festival back in 2015. If you're not familiar with the legendary Ramblin' Jack, you should be. Now 90 years old, he's been described as the "son of Woody Guthrie & the father of Bob Dylan". They talked about trips to Ireland, Europe & the UK, The Clancy Brothers, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, Odetta, The Grateful Dead, Margaret Barry, Ewan MacColl, and Woody Guthrie. You can hear the entire show through the tags below, or by searching for “The Stirring Foot” wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy! Follow on Instagram @dylanwalshe @AmericanSongcatcher Links: The Stirring Foot Dylan's Official Site Ramblin Jack Elliott's Official Site -- Support American Songcatcher! Join the Patreon Community for as little as $3 a month - https://www.Patreon.com/AmericanSongcatcher Send a one-time donation via: Venmo - https://www.venmo.com/AmericanSongcatcher PayPal - https://paypal.me/AmericanSongcatcher --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/americansongcatcher/support
On today's episode I talk to musician Peggy Seeger. Sister of Pete Seeger (the great-grandfather of USA folk revival) and partner of the late Ewan MacColl (theorist and practitioner of UK folk revival), she has carved a special niche for herself in both these countries. Trained in both classical and folk music, her experience spans 55 years of performing, travel and songwriting. A multi-instrumentalist (piano, guitar, 5-string banjo, autoharp, English concertina and Appalachian dulcimer), she is probably best known for her feminist songs and for The Ballad of Springhill, which is rapidly becoming regarded as a traditional song. Born in 1935, she regards herself as "seasoned and in my prime". She has made 23 solo recordings and has participated in over a hundred recordings with other artists. Her 24th album FIrst Farewell was just released on Red Grape Music, and she is playing a number of dates in the UK in May and October, please check her website for when those are happening. This is the website for Beginnings, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, follow me on Twitter.
For our fifth podcast series, writer and broadcaster Laura Barton looks to the theme of Rhythm, exploring the ways in which it is harnessed creatively to stir the senses, how it forms in us, how we carry it and where it can lead us. From the rhythmic pattern that propels you into a poem, the expressiveness of a musical composition to the cadence of speech on stage or sculpting intimate scenes on a film set. Join Laura as she interviews six guests who have each developed their own unique sense of rhythm in their work. The episodes will be released weekly throughout April and May and are presented by Laura Barton and produced by Geoff Bird. Music for this season was written and performed by Laura James. All views expressed in the podcast are the interviewees own and not necessarily those of TOAST. Peggy Seeger Kicking off our fifth series, Laura Barton joins Peggy Seeger at home in Oxfordshire where they spoke about where rhythm sits in Peggy’s own relationship with music, growing up a member of America’s famous folk family, the music that carried her to the UK, her partnership with Ewan MacColl, and why music can never be in the background of her life.
With Wall Street declaring that they want Covid over and done with by April Alex & Leila examine the states in the US reopening. They reiterate the case against lockdowns, talk about the gigantic amount of bad science created in the last year and examine the "great reset" theory. Outro music is "The Ballad of Accounting" - Written by Ewan Maccoll and performed by Maccoll and Peggy Seeger
The New World Theatre Ochestra [00:22] "After Hours Joint" Honeymoon in Manhattan Somerset P-3000 1958 An approximation of Gershwin, I suppose. Elton John [04:37] "Susie (Dramas)" Honky Château UNI Records 93135 1972 An approximation of The Band, I suppose. Fred Burton [08:01] "There's Going To Be A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight" Honky Tonk Percussion Spin-O-Rama S-8 1958 Honky tonk piano with percussion... with stereo separation. "Fingers" Mahoney [10:15] "Bicycle Built for Two" HonkyTonk Piano Riviera Records R0050 1960 Honky tonk piano with percussion... in mono. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra [14:02] "Hooked on Bach" Hooked on Classics RCA AYL1-5022 1981 See? Those High on Music people got nuthin' on the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This title single from this album reached number 10 on the Hot 100 in 1981. Al Hirt [19:59] "Holiday for Trumpet" Horn-a-Plenty RCA Victor LSP-2446 1962 Oh right, as opposed to "Holiday for Strings". Dirty Three [22:15] "Red" Horse Stories Touch & Go TG165 1996 So good. The third studio album from Aussies Warren Ellis, Mick Turner, and Jim White. America [26:10] "A Horse with No Name" America Warner Bros. Records BS2576 1971 Whoops... I guess Your Old Pal Will must've been a little sleepy when he filed this one. But the album cover does say AMERICA and then A Horse with No Name, so he put it into H. Patti Smith [31:28] "Gloria: In Excelsis Deo/Gloria (Version)" Horses Arista AB 4066 1975 One of the finest track one, side ones in rock and roll. Isaac Hayes [37:20] "Hyperbolicsyllablicsesquedalymystic" Hot Buttered Soul Enterprise ENS-1001 1969 How do you follow up a killer rendition Burt Bacharach's "Walk on By"? With this keller jam, of course. Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen [47:39] "Diggy Liggy Lo" Hot Licks, Cold Steel & Truckers Favorites Paramount Records PAS-6031 1972 A fantastic cover of the Jay Miller classic made popular by Doug Kershaw. The Rolling Stones [49:31] "19th Nervous Breakdown" Hot Rocks 1964-1971 London Records 2PS 606/7 1971 Got Stones if you want it. This single made it to number 2 on the Hot 100 in 1966. Eagles [53:29] "New Kid in Town" Hotel California Asylum Records 7E-1084 1976 What, you thought I was going to play the title track? C'mon... no one needs to hear that song for at least another decade. Meanwhile, this song features Joe Walsh on Rhodes piano and Hammond organ and is still listenable. Boiled in Lead [58:34] "Go! Move! Shift (The Moving-On Song)" Hotheads Atomic Theory TTA 8687 1987 Some Celtic rocking from the Twin Cities, covering a song written by Ewan MacColl, father of Vinyl-O-Matic favorite Kristy MacColl. Music behind the DJ: "Walk On By" by Les Brown and his Orchestra.
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode one hundred and nine of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Blowin’ in the Wind”, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, the UK folk scene and the civil rights movement. Those of you who get angry at me whenever I say anything that acknowledges the existence of racism may want to skip this one. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by the Crystals. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ (more…)
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode one hundred and nine of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Blowin’ in the Wind”, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, the UK folk scene and the civil rights movement. Those of you who get angry at me whenever I say anything that acknowledges the existence of racism may want to skip this one. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by the Crystals. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ —-more—- Resources As always, I’ve created a Mixcloud streaming playlist with full versions of all the songs in the episode. This compilation contains all Peter, Paul and Mary’s hits. I have used *many* books for this episode, most of which I will also be using for future episodes on Dylan: The Mayor of MacDougal Street by Dave Van Ronk and Elijah Wald is the fascinating and funny autobiography of Dylan’s mentor in his Greenwich Village period, including his interactions with Albert Grossman. Chronicles Volume 1 by Bob Dylan is a partial, highly inaccurate, but thoroughly readable autobiography. Bob Dylan: All The Songs by Phillipe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon is a song-by-song look at every song Dylan ever wrote, as is Revolution in the Air, by Clinton Heylin. Heylin also wrote the most comprehensive and accurate biography of Dylan, Behind the Shades. I’ve also used Robert Shelton’s No Direction Home, which is less accurate, but which is written by someone who knew Dylan. Only one book exists on Peter, Paul, and Mary themselves, and it is a hideously overpriced coffee table book consisting mostly of photos, so I wouldn’t bother with it. Roots, Radicals, and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World by Billy Bragg has some great information on the British folk scene of the fifties and sixties. And Singing From the Floor is an oral history of British folk clubs, including a chapter on Dylan’s 1962 visit to London. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Today we’re going to look at the first manufactured pop band we will see in this story, but not the last — a group cynically put together by a manager to try and cash in on a fad, but one who were important enough that in a small way they helped to change history. We’re going to look at the March on Washington and the civil rights movement, at Bob Dylan blossoming into a songwriter and the English folk revival, and at “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Peter, Paul, and Mary: [Excerpt: Peter, Paul and Mary, “Blowin’ in the Wind”] Albert Grossman was an unusual figure in the world of folk music. The folk revival had started out as an idealistic movement, mostly centred on Pete Seeger, and outside a few ultra-commercial acts like the Kingston Trio, most of the people involved were either doing it for the love of the music, or as a means of advancing their political goals. No doubt many of the performers on the burgeoning folk circuit were also quite keen to make money — there are very few musicians who don’t like being able to eat and have a home to live in — but very few of the people involved were primarily motivated by increasing their income. Grossman was a different matter. He was a businessman, and he was interested in money more than anything else — and for that he was despised by many of the people in the Greenwich Village folk scene. But he was, nonetheless, someone who was interested in making money *from folk music* specifically. And in the late fifties and early sixties this was less of a strange idea than it might have seemed. We talked back in the episode on “Drugstore Rock and Roll” about how rock and roll music was starting to be seen as the music of the teenager, and how “teenager” was, for the first time, becoming a marketing category into which people could be segmented. But the thing about music that’s aimed at a particular age group is that once you’re out of that age group you are no longer the target audience for that music. Someone who was sixteen in 1956 was twenty in 1960, and people in their twenties don’t necessarily want to be listening to music aimed at teenagers. But at the same time, those people didn’t want to listen to the music that their parents were listening to. There’s no switch that gets flipped on your twentieth birthday that means that you suddenly no longer like Little Richard but instead like Rosemary Clooney. So there was a gap in the market, for music that was more adult than rock and roll was perceived as being, but which still set itself apart from the pop music that was listened to by people in their thirties and forties. And in the late fifties and early sixties, that gap seemed to be filled by a commercialised version of the folk revival. In particular, Harry Belafonte had a huge run of massive hit albums with collections of folk, calypso, and blues songs, presented in a way that was acceptable to an older, more settled audience while still preserving some of the rawness of the originals, like his version of Lead Belly’s “Midnight Special”, recorded in 1962 with a young Bob Dylan on harmonica: [Excerpt: Harry Belafonte, “Midnight Special”] Meanwhile, the Kingston Trio had been having huge hits with cleaned-up versions of old folk ballads like “Tom Dooley”: [Excerpt: The Kingston Trio, “Tom Dooley”] So Grossman believed that there was a real market out there for something that was as clean and bright and friendly as the Kingston Trio, but with just a tiny hint of the bohemian Greenwich Village atmosphere to go with it. Something that wouldn’t scare TV people and DJs, but which might seem just the tiniest bit more radical than the Kingston Trio did. Something mass-produced, but which seemed more authentic. So Grossman decided to put together what we would now call a manufactured pop group. It would be a bit like the Kingston Trio, but ever so slightly more political, and rather than being three men, it would be two men and a woman. Grossman had very particular ideas about what he wanted — he wanted a waifish, beautiful woman at the centre of the group, he wanted a man who brought a sense of folk authenticity, and he wanted someone who could add a comedy element to the performances, to lighten them. For the woman, he chose Mary Travers, who had been around the folk scene for several years at this point, starting out with a group called the Song Swappers, who had recorded an album of union songs with Pete Seeger back in 1955: [Excerpt: Pete Seeger and the Song Swappers, “Solidarity Forever”] Travers was chosen in part because of her relative shyness — she had never wanted to be a professional singer, and her introverted nature made her perfect for the image Grossman wanted — an image that was carefully cultivated, to the point that when the group were rehearsing in Florida, Grossman insisted Travers stay inside so she wouldn’t get a tan and spoil her image. As the authentic male folk singer, Grossman chose Peter Yarrow, who was the highest profile of the three, as he had performed as a solo artist for a number of years and had appeared on TV and at the Newport Folk Festival, though he had not yet recorded. And for the comedy element, he chose Noel Stookey, who regularly performed as a comedian around Greenwich Village — in the group’s very slim autobiography, Stookey compares himself to two other comedians on that circuit, Bill Cosby and Woody Allen, comparisons that were a much better look in 2009 when the book was published than they are today. Grossman had originally wanted Dave Van Ronk to be the low harmony singer, rather than Stookey, but Van Ronk turned him down flat, wanting no part of a Greenwich Village Kingston Trio, though he later said he sometimes looked at his bank account rather wistfully. The group’s name was, apparently, inspired by a line in the old folk song “I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago”, which was recorded by many people, but most famously by Elvis Presley in the 1970s: [Excerpt: Elvis Presley, “I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago”] The “Peter, Paul, and Moses” from that song became Peter, Paul and Mary — Stookey started going by his middle name, Paul, on stage, in order to fit the group name, though he still uses Noel in his daily life. While Peter, Paul, and Mary were the front people of the group, there were several other people who were involved in the creative process — the group used a regular bass player, Bill Lee, the father of the filmmaker Spike Lee, who played on all their recordings, as well as many other recordings from Greenwich Village folk musicians. They also had, as their musical director, a man named Milt Okun who came up with their arrangements and helped them choose and shape the material. Grossman shaped this team into a formidable commercial force. Almost everyone who talks about Grossman compares him to Colonel Tom Parker, and the comparison is a reasonable one. Grossman was extremely good at making money for his acts, so long as a big chunk of the money came to him. There’s a story about him signing Odetta, one of the great folk artists of the period, and telling her “you can stay with your current manager, and make a hundred thousand dollars this year, and he’ll take twenty percent, or you can come with me, and make a quarter of a million dollars, but I’ll take fifty percent”. That was the attitude that Grossman took to everyone. He cut himself in to every contract, salami-slicing his artists’ royalties at each stage. But it can’t be denied that his commercial instincts were sound. Peter, Paul, and Mary’s first album was a huge success. The second single from the album, their version of the old Weavers song “If I Had a Hammer”, written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, went to number ten on the pop charts: [Excerpt: Peter, Paul and Mary, “If I Had a Hammer”] And the album itself went to number one and eventually went double-platinum — a remarkable feat for a collection of songs that, however prettily arranged, contained a fairly uncompromising selection of music from the folk scene, with songs by Seeger, Dave van Ronk, and Rev. Gary Davis mixing with traditional songs like “This Train” and originals by Stookey and Yarrow. Their second album was less successful at first, with its first two singles flopping. But the third, a pretty children’s song by Yarrow and his friend Leonard Lipton, went to number two on the pop charts and number one on the Adult Contemporary charts: [Excerpt: Peter, Paul, and Mary, “Puff the Magic Dragon”] Incidentally, Leonard Lipton, who wrote that lyric, became independently wealthy from the royalties from the song, and used the leisure that gave him to pursue his passion of inventing 3D projection systems, which eventually made him an even wealthier man — if you’ve seen a 3D film in the cinema in the last couple of decades, it’s almost certainly been using the systems Lipton invented. So Peter, Paul, and Mary were big stars, and having big hits. And Albert Grossman was constantly on the lookout for more material for them. And eventually he found it, and the song that was to make both him, his group, and its writer, very, very rich, in the pages of Broadside magazine. When we left Bob Dylan, he was still primarily a performer, and not really known for his songwriting, but he had already written a handful of songs, and he was being drawn into the more political side of the folk scene. In large part this was because of his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, with whom Dylan was very deeply in love, and who was a very political person indeed. Dylan had political views, but wasn’t particularly driven by them — Rotolo very much was, and encouraged him to write songs about politics. For much of early 1962, Dylan was being pulled in two directions at once — he was writing songs inspired by Robert Johnson, and trying to adapt Johnson’s style to fit himself, but at the same time he was writing songs like “The Death of Emmett Till”, about the 1955 murder of a Black teenager which had galvanised the civil rights movement, and “The Ballad of Donald White”, about a Black man on death row. Dylan would later be very dismissive of these attempts at topicality, saying “I realize now that my reasons and motives behind it were phony, I didn’t have to write it; I was bothered by many other things that I pretended I wasn’t bothered by, in order to write this song about Emmett Till, a person I never even knew”. But at the time they got him a great deal of attention in the small US folk-music scene, when they were published in magazines like Broadside and Sing Out, which collected political songs. Most of these early songs are juvenilia, with a couple of exceptions like the rather marvellous anti-bomb song “Let Me Die in My Footsteps”, but the song that changed everything for Dylan was a different matter. “Blowin’ in the Wind” was inspired by the melody of the old nineteenth century song “No More Auction Block”, a song that is often described as a “spiritual”, though in fact it’s a purely secular song about slavery: [Excerpt: Odetta, “No More Auction Block”] That song had seen something of a revival in folk circles in the late fifties, especially because part of its melody had been incorporated into another song, “We Shall Overcome”, which had become an anthem of the civil rights movement when it was revived and adapted by Pete Seeger: [Excerpt: Pete Seeger, “We Shall Overcome”] Dylan took this melody, with its associations with the fight for the rights of Black people, and came up with new lyrics, starting with the line “How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?” He wrote two verses of the song — the first and last verses — in a short burst of inspiration, and a few weeks later came back to it and added another verse, the second, which incorporated allusions to the Biblical prophet Ezekiel, and which is notably less inspired than those earlier verses. In later decades, many people have looked at the lyrics to the song and seen it as the first of what would become a whole subgenre of non-protest protest songs — they’ve seen the abstraction of “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?” as being nice-sounding rhetoric that doesn’t actually mean anything, in much the same way as something like, say, “Another Day in Paradise” or “Eve of Destruction”, songs that make nonspecific complaints about nonspecific bad things. But while “Blowin’ in the Wind” is a song that has multiple meanings and can be applied to multiple situations, as most good songs can, that line was, at the time in which it was written, a very concrete question. The civil rights movement was asking for many things — for the right to vote, for an end to segregation, for an end to police brutality, but also for basic respect and acknowledgment of Black people’s shared humanity. We’ve already heard in a couple of past episodes Big Bill Broonzy singing “When Do I Get to Be Called a Man?”: [Excerpt: Big Bill Broonzy, “When Do I Get to Be Called a Man?”] Because at the time, it was normal for white people to refer to Black men as “boy”. As Dr. Martin Luther King said in his “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, one of the greatest pieces of writing of the twentieth century, a letter in large part about how white moderates were holding Black people back with demands to be “reasonable” and let things take their time: “when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society… when your first name becomes“ and here Dr. King uses a racial slur which I, as a white man, will not say, “and your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodyness”—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair.” King’s great letter was written in 1963, less than a year after Dylan was writing his song but before it became widely known. In the context of 1962, the demand to call a man a man was a very real political issue, not an aphorism that could go in a Hallmark card. Dylan recorded the song in June 1962, during the sessions for his second album, which at the time was going under the working title “Bob Dylan’s Blues”: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ in the Wind”] By the time he recorded it, two major changes had happened to him. The first was that Suze Rotolo had travelled to Spain for several months, leaving him bereft — for the next few months, his songwriting took a turn towards songs about either longing for the return of a lost love, like “Tomorrow is a Long Time”, one of his most romantic songs, or about how the protagonist doesn’t even need his girlfriend anyway and she can leave if she likes, see if he cares, like “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”. The other change was that Albert Grossman had become his manager, largely on the strength of “Blowin’ in the Wind”, which Grossman thought had huge potential. Grossman signed Dylan up, taking twenty percent of all his earnings — including on the contract with Columbia Records Dylan already had — and got him signed to a new publisher, Witmark Publishing, where the aptly-named Artie Mogull thought that “Blowin’ in the Wind” could be marketed. Grossman took his twenty percent of Dylan’s share of the songwriting money as his commission from Dylan — and fifty percent of Witmark’s share of the money as his commission from Witmark, meaning that Dylan was getting forty percent of the money for writing the songs, while Grossman was getting thirty-five percent. Grossman immediately got involved in the recording of Dylan’s second album, and started having personality clashes with John Hammond. It was apparently Grossman who suggested that Dylan “go electric” for the first time, with the late-1962 single “Mixed-Up Confusion”: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, “Mixed-Up Confusion”] Neither Hammond nor Dylan liked that record, and it seemed clear for the moment that the way forward for Dylan was to continue in an acoustic folk vein. Dylan was also starting to get inspired more by English folk music, and incorporate borrowings from English music into his songwriting. That’s most apparent in “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, written in September 1962. Dylan took the structure of that song from the old English ballad, “Lord Randall”: [Excerpt: Ewan MacColl, “Lord Randall”] He reworked that structure into a song of apocalypse, again full of the Biblical imagery he’d tried in the second verse of “Blowin’ in the Wind”, but this time more successfully incorporating it: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”] His interest in English folk music was to become more important in his songwriting in the following months, as Dylan was about to travel to the UK and encounter the British folk music scene. A TV director called Philip Saville had seen Dylan performing in New York, and had decided he would be perfect for the role of a poet in a TV play he was putting on, Madhouse in Castle Street, and got Dylan flown over to perform in it. Unfortunately, no-one seems to have told Dylan what would be involved in this, and he proved incapable of learning his lines or acting, so the show was rethought — the role of the poet was given to David Warner, later to become one of Britain’s most famous screen actors, and Dylan was cast in a new role as a singer called “Bobby”, who had few or no lines but did get to sing a few songs, including “Blowin’ in the Wind”, which was the first time the song was heard by anyone outside of the New York folk scene. Dylan was in London for about a month, and while he was there he immersed himself in the British folk scene. This scene was in some ways modelled on the American scene, and had some of the same people involved, but it was very different. The initial spark for the British folk revival had come in the late 1940s, when A.L. Lloyd, a member of the Communist Party, had published a book of folk songs he’d collected, along with some Marxist analysis of how folk songs evolved. In the early fifties, Alan Lomax, then in the UK to escape McCarthyism, put Lloyd in touch with Ewan MacColl, a songwriter and performer from Manchester, who we heard earlier singing “Lord Randall”. MacColl, like Lloyd, was a Communist, but the two also shared a passion for older folk songs, and they began recording and performing together, recording traditional songs like “The Handsome Cabin Boy”: [Excerpt: Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd, “The Handsome Cabin Boy”] MacColl and Lloyd latched on to the skiffle movement, and MacColl started his own club night, Ballads and Blues, which tried to push the skifflers in the direction of performing more music based in English traditional music. This had already been happening to an extent with things like the Vipers performing “Maggie May”, a song about a sex worker in Liverpool: [Excerpt: The Vipers Skiffle Group, “Maggie May”] But this started to happen a lot more with MacColl’s encouragement. At one point in 1956, there was even a TV show hosted by Lomax and featuring a band that included Lomax, MacColl, Jim Bray, the bass player from Chris Barber’s band, Shirley Collins — a folk singer who was also Lomax’s partner — and Peggy Seeger, who was Pete Seeger’s sister and who had also entered into a romantic relationship with MacColl, whose most famous song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, was written both about and for her: [Excerpt: Peggy Seeger, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”] It was Seeger who instigated what became the most notable feature at the Ballads and Blues club and its successor the Singer’s Club. She’d burst out laughing when she saw Long John Baldry sing “Rock Island Line”, because he was attempting to sing in an American accent. As someone who had actually known Lead Belly, she found British imitations of his singing ludicrous, and soon there was a policy at the clubs that people would only sing songs that were originally sung with their normal vowel sounds. So Seeger could only sing songs from the East Coast of the US, because she didn’t have the Western vowels of a Woody Guthrie, while MacColl could sing English and Scottish songs, but nothing from Wales or Ireland. As the skiffle craze died down, it splintered into several linked scenes. We’ve already seen how in Liverpool and London it spawned guitar groups like the Shadows and the Beatles, while in London it also led to the electric blues scene. It also led to a folk scene that was very linked to the blues scene at first, but was separate from it, and which was far more political, centred around MacColl. That scene, like the US one, combined topical songs about political events from a far-left viewpoint with performances of traditional songs, but in the case of the British one these were mostly old sea shanties and sailors’ songs, and the ancient Child Ballads, rather than Appalachian country music — though a lot of the songs have similar roots. And unlike the blues scene, the folk scene spread all over the country. There were clubs in Manchester, in Liverpool (run by the group the Spinners), in Bradford, in Hull (run by the Waterson family) and most other major British cities. The musicians who played these venues were often inspired by MacColl and Lloyd, but the younger generation of musicians often looked askance at what they saw as MacColl’s dogmatic approach, preferring to just make good music rather than submit it to what they saw as MacColl’s ideological purity test, even as they admired his musicianship and largely agreed with his politics. And one of these younger musicians was a guitarist named Martin Carthy, who was playing a club called the King and Queen on Goodge Street when he saw Bob Dylan walk in. He recognised Dylan from the cover of Sing Out! magazine, and invited him to get up on stage and do a few numbers. For the next few weeks, Carthy showed Dylan round the folk scene — Dylan went down great at the venues where Carthy normally played, and at the Roundhouse, but flopped around the venues that were dominated by MacColl, as the people there seemed to think of Dylan as a sort of cut-rate Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, as Elliot had been such a big part of the skiffle and folk scenes. Carthy also taught Dylan a number of English folk songs, including “Lord Franklin”: [Excerpt: Martin Carthy, “Lord Franklin”] and “Scarborough Fair”: [Excerpt: Martin Carthy, “Scarborough Fair”] Dylan immediately incorporated the music he’d learned from Carthy into his songwriting, basing “Bob Dylan’s Dream” on “Lord Franklin”, and even more closely basing “GIrl From the North Country” on “Scarborough Fair”: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, “Girl From The North Country”] After his trip to London, Dylan went over to Europe to see if he could catch up with Suze, but she had already gone back to New York — their letters to each other crossed in the post. On his return, they reunited at least for a while, and she posed with him for the photo for the cover of what was to be his second album. Dylan had thought that album completed when he left for England, but he soon discovered that there were problems with the album — the record label didn’t want to release the comedy talking blues “Talking John Birch Society Paranoid Blues”, because they thought it might upset the fascists in the John Birch Society. The same thing would later make sure that Dylan never played the Ed Sullivan Show, because when he was booked onto the show he insisted on playing that song, and so they cancelled the booking. In this case, though, it gave him an excuse to remove what he saw as the weaker songs on the album, including “Tomorrow is a Long Time”, and replace them with four new songs, three of them inspired by traditional English folk songs — “Bob Dylan’s Dream”, “Girl From the North Country”, and “Masters of War” which took its melody from the old folk song “Nottamun Town” popularised on the British folk circuit by an American singer, Jean Ritchie: [Excerpt: Jean Ritchie, “Nottamun Town”] These new recordings weren’t produced by John Hammond, as the rest of the album was. Albert Grossman had been trying from the start to get total control over Dylan, and didn’t want Hammond, who had been around before Grossman, involved in Dylan’s career. Instead, a new producer named Tom Wilson was in charge. Wilson was a remarkable man, but seemed an odd fit for a left-wing folk album. He was one of the few Black producers working for a major label, though he’d started out as an indie producer. He was a Harvard economics graduate, and had been president of the Young Republicans during his time there — he remained a conservative all his life — but he was far from conservative in his musical tastes. When he’d left university, he’d borrowed nine hundred dollars and started his own record label, Transition, which had put out some of the best experimental jazz of the fifties, produced by Wilson, including the debut albums by Sun Ra: [Excerpt: Sun Ra, “Brainville”] and Cecil Taylor: [Excerpt: Cecil Taylor, “Bemsha Swing”] Wilson later described his first impressions of Dylan: “I didn’t even particularly like folk music. I’d been recording Sun Ra and Coltrane … I thought folk music was for the dumb guys. This guy played like the dumb guys, but then these words came out. I was flabbergasted.” Wilson would soon play a big part in Dylan’s career, but for now his job was just to get those last few tracks for the album recorded. In the end, the final recording session for Dylan’s second album was more than a year after the first one, and it came out into a very different context from when he’d started recording it. Because while Dylan was putting the finishing touches on his second album, Peter Paul and Mary were working on their third, and they were encouraged by Grossman to record three Bob Dylan songs, since that way Grossman would make more money from them. Their version of “Blowin’ in the Wind” came out as a single a few weeks after The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan came out, and sold 300,000 copies in the first week: [Excerpt: Peter, Paul, and Mary, “Blowin’ in the Wind”] The record went to number two on the charts, and their followup, “Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright”, another Dylan song, went top ten as well. “Blowin’ in the Wind” became an instant standard, and was especially picked up by Black performers, as it became a civil rights anthem. Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers said later that she was astonished that a white man could write a line like “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?”, saying “That’s what my father experienced” — and the Staple Singers recorded it, of course: [Excerpt: The Staple Singers, “Blowin’ in the Wind”] as did Sam Cooke: [Excerpt: Sam Cooke, “Blowin’ in the Wind”] And Stevie Wonder: [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, “Blowin’ in the Wind”] But the song’s most important performance came from Peter, Paul and Mary, performing it on a bill with Dylan, Odetta, Joan Baez, and Mahalia Jackson in August 1963, just as the song had started to descend the charts. Because those artists were the entertainment for the March on Washington, in which more than a quarter of a million people descended on Washington both to support President Kennedy’s civil rights bill and to speak out and say that it wasn’t going far enough. That was one of the great moments in American political history, full of incendiary speeches like the one by John Lewis: [Excerpt: John Lewis, March on Washington speech] But the most memorable moment at that march came when Dr. King was giving his speech. Mahalia Jackson shouted out “Tell them about the dream, Martin”, and King departed from his prepared words and instead improvised based on themes he’d used in other speeches previously, coming out with some of the most famous words ever spoken: [Excerpt: Martin Luther King, “I Have a Dream”] The civil rights movement was more than one moment, however inspiring, and white people like myself have a tendency to reduce it just to Dr. King, and to reduce Dr. King just to those words — which is one reason why I quoted from Letter From Birmingham Jail earlier, as that is a much less safe and canonised piece of writing. But it’s still true to say that if there is a single most important moment in the history of the post-war struggle for Black rights, it was that moment, and because of “Blowin’ in the Wind”, both Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary were minor parts of that event. After 1963, Peter, Paul and Mary quickly became passe with the British Invasion, only having two more top ten hits, one with a novelty song in 1967 and one with “Leaving on a Jet Plane” in 1969. They split up in 1970, and around that time Yarrow was arrested and convicted for a sexual offence involving a fourteen-year-old girl, though he was later pardoned by President Carter. The group reformed in 1978 and toured the nostalgia circuit until Mary’s death in 2009. The other two still occasionally perform together, as Peter and Noel Paul. Bob Dylan, of course, went on to bigger things after “Blowin’ in the Wind” suddenly made him into the voice of a generation — a position he didn’t ask for and didn’t seem to want. We’ll be hearing much more from him. And we’ll also be hearing more about the struggle for Black civil rights, as that’s a story, much like Dylan’s, that continues to this day.
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode one hundred and nine of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at "Blowin' in the Wind", Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, the UK folk scene and the civil rights movement. Those of you who get angry at me whenever I say anything that acknowledges the existence of racism may want to skip this one. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by the Crystals. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ ----more---- Resources As always, I've created a Mixcloud streaming playlist with full versions of all the songs in the episode. This compilation contains all Peter, Paul and Mary's hits. I have used *many* books for this episode, most of which I will also be using for future episodes on Dylan: The Mayor of MacDougal Street by Dave Van Ronk and Elijah Wald is the fascinating and funny autobiography of Dylan's mentor in his Greenwich Village period, including his interactions with Albert Grossman. Chronicles Volume 1 by Bob Dylan is a partial, highly inaccurate, but thoroughly readable autobiography. Bob Dylan: All The Songs by Phillipe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon is a song-by-song look at every song Dylan ever wrote, as is Revolution in the Air, by Clinton Heylin. Heylin also wrote the most comprehensive and accurate biography of Dylan, Behind the Shades. I've also used Robert Shelton's No Direction Home, which is less accurate, but which is written by someone who knew Dylan. Only one book exists on Peter, Paul, and Mary themselves, and it is a hideously overpriced coffee table book consisting mostly of photos, so I wouldn't bother with it. Roots, Radicals, and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World by Billy Bragg has some great information on the British folk scene of the fifties and sixties. And Singing From the Floor is an oral history of British folk clubs, including a chapter on Dylan's 1962 visit to London. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Today we're going to look at the first manufactured pop band we will see in this story, but not the last -- a group cynically put together by a manager to try and cash in on a fad, but one who were important enough that in a small way they helped to change history. We're going to look at the March on Washington and the civil rights movement, at Bob Dylan blossoming into a songwriter and the English folk revival, and at "Blowin' in the Wind" by Peter, Paul, and Mary: [Excerpt: Peter, Paul and Mary, "Blowin' in the Wind"] Albert Grossman was an unusual figure in the world of folk music. The folk revival had started out as an idealistic movement, mostly centred on Pete Seeger, and outside a few ultra-commercial acts like the Kingston Trio, most of the people involved were either doing it for the love of the music, or as a means of advancing their political goals. No doubt many of the performers on the burgeoning folk circuit were also quite keen to make money -- there are very few musicians who don't like being able to eat and have a home to live in -- but very few of the people involved were primarily motivated by increasing their income. Grossman was a different matter. He was a businessman, and he was interested in money more than anything else -- and for that he was despised by many of the people in the Greenwich Village folk scene. But he was, nonetheless, someone who was interested in making money *from folk music* specifically. And in the late fifties and early sixties this was less of a strange idea than it might have seemed. We talked back in the episode on "Drugstore Rock and Roll" about how rock and roll music was starting to be seen as the music of the teenager, and how "teenager" was, for the first time, becoming a marketing category into which people could be segmented. But the thing about music that's aimed at a particular age group is that once you're out of that age group you are no longer the target audience for that music. Someone who was sixteen in 1956 was twenty in 1960, and people in their twenties don't necessarily want to be listening to music aimed at teenagers. But at the same time, those people didn't want to listen to the music that their parents were listening to. There's no switch that gets flipped on your twentieth birthday that means that you suddenly no longer like Little Richard but instead like Rosemary Clooney. So there was a gap in the market, for music that was more adult than rock and roll was perceived as being, but which still set itself apart from the pop music that was listened to by people in their thirties and forties. And in the late fifties and early sixties, that gap seemed to be filled by a commercialised version of the folk revival. In particular, Harry Belafonte had a huge run of massive hit albums with collections of folk, calypso, and blues songs, presented in a way that was acceptable to an older, more settled audience while still preserving some of the rawness of the originals, like his version of Lead Belly's "Midnight Special", recorded in 1962 with a young Bob Dylan on harmonica: [Excerpt: Harry Belafonte, "Midnight Special"] Meanwhile, the Kingston Trio had been having huge hits with cleaned-up versions of old folk ballads like "Tom Dooley": [Excerpt: The Kingston Trio, "Tom Dooley"] So Grossman believed that there was a real market out there for something that was as clean and bright and friendly as the Kingston Trio, but with just a tiny hint of the bohemian Greenwich Village atmosphere to go with it. Something that wouldn't scare TV people and DJs, but which might seem just the tiniest bit more radical than the Kingston Trio did. Something mass-produced, but which seemed more authentic. So Grossman decided to put together what we would now call a manufactured pop group. It would be a bit like the Kingston Trio, but ever so slightly more political, and rather than being three men, it would be two men and a woman. Grossman had very particular ideas about what he wanted -- he wanted a waifish, beautiful woman at the centre of the group, he wanted a man who brought a sense of folk authenticity, and he wanted someone who could add a comedy element to the performances, to lighten them. For the woman, he chose Mary Travers, who had been around the folk scene for several years at this point, starting out with a group called the Song Swappers, who had recorded an album of union songs with Pete Seeger back in 1955: [Excerpt: Pete Seeger and the Song Swappers, "Solidarity Forever"] Travers was chosen in part because of her relative shyness -- she had never wanted to be a professional singer, and her introverted nature made her perfect for the image Grossman wanted -- an image that was carefully cultivated, to the point that when the group were rehearsing in Florida, Grossman insisted Travers stay inside so she wouldn't get a tan and spoil her image. As the authentic male folk singer, Grossman chose Peter Yarrow, who was the highest profile of the three, as he had performed as a solo artist for a number of years and had appeared on TV and at the Newport Folk Festival, though he had not yet recorded. And for the comedy element, he chose Noel Stookey, who regularly performed as a comedian around Greenwich Village -- in the group's very slim autobiography, Stookey compares himself to two other comedians on that circuit, Bill Cosby and Woody Allen, comparisons that were a much better look in 2009 when the book was published than they are today. Grossman had originally wanted Dave Van Ronk to be the low harmony singer, rather than Stookey, but Van Ronk turned him down flat, wanting no part of a Greenwich Village Kingston Trio, though he later said he sometimes looked at his bank account rather wistfully. The group's name was, apparently, inspired by a line in the old folk song "I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago", which was recorded by many people, but most famously by Elvis Presley in the 1970s: [Excerpt: Elvis Presley, "I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago"] The "Peter, Paul, and Moses" from that song became Peter, Paul and Mary -- Stookey started going by his middle name, Paul, on stage, in order to fit the group name, though he still uses Noel in his daily life. While Peter, Paul, and Mary were the front people of the group, there were several other people who were involved in the creative process -- the group used a regular bass player, Bill Lee, the father of the filmmaker Spike Lee, who played on all their recordings, as well as many other recordings from Greenwich Village folk musicians. They also had, as their musical director, a man named Milt Okun who came up with their arrangements and helped them choose and shape the material. Grossman shaped this team into a formidable commercial force. Almost everyone who talks about Grossman compares him to Colonel Tom Parker, and the comparison is a reasonable one. Grossman was extremely good at making money for his acts, so long as a big chunk of the money came to him. There's a story about him signing Odetta, one of the great folk artists of the period, and telling her "you can stay with your current manager, and make a hundred thousand dollars this year, and he'll take twenty percent, or you can come with me, and make a quarter of a million dollars, but I'll take fifty percent". That was the attitude that Grossman took to everyone. He cut himself in to every contract, salami-slicing his artists' royalties at each stage. But it can't be denied that his commercial instincts were sound. Peter, Paul, and Mary's first album was a huge success. The second single from the album, their version of the old Weavers song "If I Had a Hammer", written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, went to number ten on the pop charts: [Excerpt: Peter, Paul and Mary, "If I Had a Hammer"] And the album itself went to number one and eventually went double-platinum -- a remarkable feat for a collection of songs that, however prettily arranged, contained a fairly uncompromising selection of music from the folk scene, with songs by Seeger, Dave van Ronk, and Rev. Gary Davis mixing with traditional songs like "This Train" and originals by Stookey and Yarrow. Their second album was less successful at first, with its first two singles flopping. But the third, a pretty children's song by Yarrow and his friend Leonard Lipton, went to number two on the pop charts and number one on the Adult Contemporary charts: [Excerpt: Peter, Paul, and Mary, "Puff the Magic Dragon"] Incidentally, Leonard Lipton, who wrote that lyric, became independently wealthy from the royalties from the song, and used the leisure that gave him to pursue his passion of inventing 3D projection systems, which eventually made him an even wealthier man -- if you've seen a 3D film in the cinema in the last couple of decades, it's almost certainly been using the systems Lipton invented. So Peter, Paul, and Mary were big stars, and having big hits. And Albert Grossman was constantly on the lookout for more material for them. And eventually he found it, and the song that was to make both him, his group, and its writer, very, very rich, in the pages of Broadside magazine. When we left Bob Dylan, he was still primarily a performer, and not really known for his songwriting, but he had already written a handful of songs, and he was being drawn into the more political side of the folk scene. In large part this was because of his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, with whom Dylan was very deeply in love, and who was a very political person indeed. Dylan had political views, but wasn't particularly driven by them -- Rotolo very much was, and encouraged him to write songs about politics. For much of early 1962, Dylan was being pulled in two directions at once -- he was writing songs inspired by Robert Johnson, and trying to adapt Johnson's style to fit himself, but at the same time he was writing songs like "The Death of Emmett Till", about the 1955 murder of a Black teenager which had galvanised the civil rights movement, and "The Ballad of Donald White", about a Black man on death row. Dylan would later be very dismissive of these attempts at topicality, saying "I realize now that my reasons and motives behind it were phony, I didn’t have to write it; I was bothered by many other things that I pretended I wasn’t bothered by, in order to write this song about Emmett Till, a person I never even knew". But at the time they got him a great deal of attention in the small US folk-music scene, when they were published in magazines like Broadside and Sing Out, which collected political songs. Most of these early songs are juvenilia, with a couple of exceptions like the rather marvellous anti-bomb song "Let Me Die in My Footsteps", but the song that changed everything for Dylan was a different matter. "Blowin' in the Wind" was inspired by the melody of the old nineteenth century song "No More Auction Block", a song that is often described as a "spiritual", though in fact it's a purely secular song about slavery: [Excerpt: Odetta, "No More Auction Block"] That song had seen something of a revival in folk circles in the late fifties, especially because part of its melody had been incorporated into another song, "We Shall Overcome", which had become an anthem of the civil rights movement when it was revived and adapted by Pete Seeger: [Excerpt: Pete Seeger, "We Shall Overcome"] Dylan took this melody, with its associations with the fight for the rights of Black people, and came up with new lyrics, starting with the line "How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?" He wrote two verses of the song -- the first and last verses -- in a short burst of inspiration, and a few weeks later came back to it and added another verse, the second, which incorporated allusions to the Biblical prophet Ezekiel, and which is notably less inspired than those earlier verses. In later decades, many people have looked at the lyrics to the song and seen it as the first of what would become a whole subgenre of non-protest protest songs -- they've seen the abstraction of "How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?" as being nice-sounding rhetoric that doesn't actually mean anything, in much the same way as something like, say, "Another Day in Paradise" or "Eve of Destruction", songs that make nonspecific complaints about nonspecific bad things. But while "Blowin' in the Wind" is a song that has multiple meanings and can be applied to multiple situations, as most good songs can, that line was, at the time in which it was written, a very concrete question. The civil rights movement was asking for many things -- for the right to vote, for an end to segregation, for an end to police brutality, but also for basic respect and acknowledgment of Black people's shared humanity. We've already heard in a couple of past episodes Big Bill Broonzy singing "When Do I Get to Be Called a Man?": [Excerpt: Big Bill Broonzy, "When Do I Get to Be Called a Man?"] Because at the time, it was normal for white people to refer to Black men as "boy". As Dr. Martin Luther King said in his "Letter From Birmingham Jail", one of the greatest pieces of writing of the twentieth century, a letter in large part about how white moderates were holding Black people back with demands to be "reasonable" and let things take their time: "when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society... when your first name becomes“ and here Dr. King uses a racial slur which I, as a white man, will not say, "and your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodyness”—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair." King's great letter was written in 1963, less than a year after Dylan was writing his song but before it became widely known. In the context of 1962, the demand to call a man a man was a very real political issue, not an aphorism that could go in a Hallmark card. Dylan recorded the song in June 1962, during the sessions for his second album, which at the time was going under the working title "Bob Dylan's Blues": [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Blowin' in the Wind"] By the time he recorded it, two major changes had happened to him. The first was that Suze Rotolo had travelled to Spain for several months, leaving him bereft -- for the next few months, his songwriting took a turn towards songs about either longing for the return of a lost love, like "Tomorrow is a Long Time", one of his most romantic songs, or about how the protagonist doesn't even need his girlfriend anyway and she can leave if she likes, see if he cares, lik