Hard Times In The City

Bob Dylan 1961

 

by

 

Olof Björner

 

A summary of recording & concert activities,

releases, tapes & books.

 

 

 

 

© 2001 by Olof Björner

All Rights Reserved.

 

This text may be reproduced, re-transmitted, redistributed and

otherwise propagated at will,  provided that this notice remains

intact and in place.

 

 

Download this document as a PDF file

in A4 or Letter format.

 

 

CONTENTS:

 

1      INTRODUCTION.. 2

2      CALENDAR.. 2

3      RECORDINGS. 3

4      FIRST ALBUM... 3

5      SONGS 1961. 5

6      SOURCES. 5

7      SUGGESTED READINGS. 6

7.1       General background.. 6

7.2       Article compilations. 6

7.3       Selected articles. 6

 

1               INTRODUCTION

First professional year as a musician starts with Dylan hitchhiking into New York in January without a home and ends with his triumphant return home to Hibbing with a Columbia recording contract and the first LP recorded.

 

2               CALENDAR

24 January

Dylan arrives in New York accompanied by his friend Fred Underhill, heads for "Cafe Wha?" where he performs a couple of songs, after which the compere asks the audience for a plays to stay for "Bob and Fred" that night.

25 January

Dylan visits Guthrie's family in Howard's Beach. Meets young Arlo and teaches him some harmonica.

29 January

Dylan performs at Izzy Young's Folklore Centre. Meets Woody Guthrie at the home of Sid and Bob Gleason in East Orange, New Jersey

February

A second (or third) "home-tape" is recorded by Sid and Bob Gleason, while Dylan is singing to their daughter Kathy.

February

Dylan starts to accompany folk singers like Fred Neil, Mark Spoelstra, Ramblin' Jack Elliot and Dave van Ronk on harmonica. He is also performing at "Cafe Wha?", "The Gaslight", "The Limelight", "The Lion's Head" and "Mill's Tavern".

13 February

Dylan starts performing regularly at Gerde's Folk City on the Monday night hootenanny.

14 February

In February The Gleasons are given a dated handwritten copy of a new Dylan composition called Song To Woody.

27 March

Mike Porco, the owner of Gerde's Folk City, offers Dylan to be support act to John Lee Hooker for a fortnight in April.

5 April

First paid concert at the Loeb Music Center for the University of New York Folk Society. In the audience is a young Suze Rotolo.

11-25 April

Dylan plays a five song set as support to John Lee Hooker at Gerde's Folk City.

May

Dylan tries to get a recording contract first with Folkways records, then with with Elektra and Vanguard. None of them are interested.

May

The writing of the second recorded composition, Talkin' New York.

6 May

At the Indian Neck Folk Festival in Branford, Connecticut, Dylan performs three songs and meets Bob Neuwirth for the first time.

Mid May

Dylan returns to Minneapolis and a number of home recordings are made.

June

A hand-written manuscript shows that Dylan wrote a song called East Colorado Blues. No known recording exits.

29 July

Dylan is part of a 12-hour radio broadcast from Riverside Church, Manhattan, NYC, a "Hootenanny Special".

6 September

Dylan's set on Gerde's Folk City is recorded.

26 September

New York Times reporter Robert Shelton attends the opening night of another two-week Dylan residency at Gerde's Folk City. Dylan is supporting The Greenbriar Boys and plays two sets each night. After his first set Shelton interviews Dylan and then writes an enthusiastic review concentrating on Dylan.

30 September

First studio recording takes place when Dylan joins a Carolyn Hester session. He plays harmonica on three songs later released on Hester's debut album. Producer is John Hammond.

20 October

Izzy Young conducts a written interview with Dylan. In this he mentions his own composition California Brown Eyed Baby that he is performing at the time.

23 October

Izzy Young conducts another written interview with Dylan.

26 October

Dylan signs for Columbia Records.

29 October

Dylan appears on Oscar Brand's radio show "Folksong Festival".

4 November

Izzy Young books Dylan at the Carnegie Recital Hall. Only 53 people attend.

20, 22 November

Recording of first album, Bob Dylan.

23 November

Thanksgiving Day is spent with Suze Rotolo at the home of Eve and Mac McKenzie. After the dinner Dylan plays a number of songs that are recorded by the hosts.

22 December

On his way home to Hibbing for Christmas celebrations, he gives a private performance, this time in Minneapolis at the house of Bonnie Beecher. It is recorded by Tony Glover. The tape is often referred to as the Minneapolis Hotel Tape and is the basis for the first bootleg Great White Wonder and later A Rare Batch Of Little White Wonder.

 

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3               RECORDINGS

February or March

The East Orange Tape

6 May

Indian Neck Folk Festival

May

Minnesota Party Tape 1961

29 July

Hootenanny Special at Riverside Church

6 September

The First Gaslight Tape

Late September

Gerde's Folk City

30 September

Carolyn Hester studio session

29 October

WNYC Radio Studio

4 November

Carnegie Chapter Hall

20 & 22 November

Bob Dylan recording sessions

Late 1961

Billy James Interview

23 November

First McKenzie's tape

4 December

Second McKenzie's tape

22 December

Minnesota Hotel Tape

For details about these tapes please refer to the corresponding session pages in Still On The Road.

 

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4               FIRST ALBUM

This album was recorded during two session 20 and 22 November in the Columbia Studios in New York City. The following songs were recorded:

Song

# of takes

comment

You're No Good

8

take 5 released on Bob Dylan

Fixin' To Die

3

take 3 released on Bob Dylan

He Was A Friend Of Mine

2

take 3 released on Bootleg Series

House Of The Risin' Sun

3

take 3 released on Bob Dylan
take 4 overdubbed by unknown backing musicians, 8 December 1964, released on Interactive Music CD–ROM Highway 61 Interactive, Columbia/Graphix Zone CDAC 085700, February 1995.

Talkin' New York

2

take 2 released on Bob Dylan

Song To Woody

2

take 2 released on Bob Dylan

Baby Let Me Follow You Down

1

released on Bob Dylan

Man Of Constant Sorrow

4

take 4 released on Bob Dylan

In My Time Of Dyin'

1

released on Bob Dylan

Man On The Street

5

take 2 released on Bootleg Series

(As I Go) Ramblin' Round

2

unreleased

Pretty Peggy-O

2

take 2 released on Bob Dylan

See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

4

take 4 released on Bob Dylan

Gospel Plow

1

released on Bob Dylan

Highway 51

1

released on Bob Dylan

Freight Train Blues

1

released on Bob Dylan

House Carpenter

1

released on Bootleg Series

For more details about this session please refer to the corresponding session page in Still On The Road.

Notes

The album was released 19 March 1962.

Live history

Fixin' To Die

New York City 13 January 1962: Cynthia Gooding radio show: Folksinger's Choice.

He Was A Friend Of Mine

Finjan Club, Montreal 2 July 1962 and Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles 24 February 1990: Roy Orbison Tribute.

House Of The Risin' Sun

debut: Entertainment Centre, Sydney 11 February 1986

Talkin' New York

Gerde's Folk City, New York City April or May 1962 and Town Hall, New York City 12 April 1963

Song To Woody

debut: Chicago Stadium, Chicago 3 January 1974

Baby Let Me Follow You Down

debut: Gaslight Café, New York City October 1962

Man Of Constant Sorrow

debut: Concord Pavilion, Concord, California, 7 June 1988

Man On The Street

Gaslight Café, New York City, New York 6 September 1961

Pretty Peggy-O

debut: Town Hall, New York City 12 April 1963

See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

Gerde's Folk City, New York City, New York, Late September 1961 and Gaslight Café, New York City, New York, October 1962

Highway 51

Town Hall, New York City 12 April 1963

Freight Train Blues

Unknown Location, New York City, New York, Late 1962

The following songs have probably never been played live:

You're No Good

In My Time Of Dyin'

(As I Go) Ramblin' Round

Gospel Plow

House Carpenter

There are no officially released live versions, except Baby Let Me Follow You Down on Bootleg Series Volume 4.

Song To Woody, Baby Let Me Follow You Down, Man Of Constant Sorrow, and Pretty Peggy-O have all been played during the Never-Ending Tour.

 

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5               SONGS 1961

February

Song To Woody 

Released on Bob Dylan. Performed live twice in 1974 and 1986 and a number of times on the never-ending tour

May

Talkin' New York 

Released on Bob Dylan.

June

East Colorado Blues 

Rumoured song.

August

Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues 

First performed at Gerde's Folk City in June 1961. A studio version was recorded in April 1962 for the Freewheelin' album.

September

He Was A Friend Of Mine

Arrangement by Bob Dylan.

 

Man On The Street

Later recorded as a Leeds Music Demo. Covered by Dave van Ronk on the album No Dirty Names.

 

Talkin' Hava Nagilah Blues

A studio version was recorded in April 1962 for the Freewheelin' album.

Fall

California Brown Eyed Baby

Rumoured song.

November

Hard Times In New York Town

Later recorded as a Leeds Music Demo. An adaptation of the traditional Ketty's Farm

December

Ballad Of The Ox Bow Incident

Rumoured song.

 

I Was Young When I Left Home

Adaptation/derivation from two songs, 900 Miles and Detroit City.

 

Strange Rain

Rumoured song.

 

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6               SOURCES

Tim Dunn

I Just Write 'Em As They Come.
Annotated Guide to the Writings of Bob Dylan

A Not-A-Ces Publishing Venture 1990.

Glen Dundas

Tangled Up In Tapes — 4th Edition

A Recording History of Bob Dylan

SMA Services, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada 1999. Softcover 334 pages.

Clinton Heylin

A Life In Stolen Moments.

Bob Dylan Day By Day 1941-1995.

Schirmer Books 1996, 404 pages.

Clinton Heylin

Bob Dylan, The Recording Sessions 1960-1994

St. Martin's Press, 1995, 233 pages.

Michael Krogsgaard

Positively Bob Dylan
A Thirty-Year Discography, Concert & Record Session Guide 1960-1991.
Popular Culture, Ink. 1991. 500 pages

 

7               SUGGESTED READINGS

7.1         General background

Michael Gray

Song & Dance Man III. The Art Of Bob Dylan

Cassell 1999. Hardback 918 pages (!!)

Clinton Heylin

Behind The Shades. A Biography.

Summit Books 1991, 500 pages.

Daniel Kramer

Bob Dylan. Citadel Press (hardback) or Pocket Books. Great photo book from 1964-1965.

Anthony Scaduto

Bob Dylan. An intimate biography. New American Library 1973

Eric von Schmidt,  Jim Rooney

Baby, Let Me Follow You Down. The Illustrated Story of the Cambridge Folk Years. Anchor Books 1979.

Robert Shelton

No Direction Home. The Life and Music of Bob Dylan. New American Library 1986.

Howard Sounes

Down The Highway. The Life Of Bob Dylan. Groove Press 2001.

 

 

7.2         Article compilations

Carl Benson (ed)

The Bob Dylan Companion — Four Decades of Commentary.

Schirmer Books, New York 1998. Softcover 306 pages.

Craig McGregor (ed)

Bob Dylan. A Retrospective.

William Morrow 1972

Elizabeth M. Thomson (ed)

Conclusions On The Wall. New Essays On Bob Dylan.

Thin Man 1980

 

 

7.3         Selected articles

Hard Times In New York Town – John Bauldie in The Telegraph #24

Portrait of the Artist as a Younger Man – interview by Billy James reprinted in Stephen Pickering's "Praxis: One"

Bob Dylan & Kevin Krown – The Telegraph 45 (Summer 1993)

Carolyn Hester Interview – by Ian Woodward, Isis #50

Carolyn Hester Interview – by Larry Jaffee, On The Tracks #3 (Spring 1994)

Eric von Sschmidt Interview – by Joseph Sia, On The Tracks #4 (Fall 1994)

Eve McKenzie Remembers – Mitch Blank, The Telegraph 56 (Winter 1997)

Interview: Carolyn Hester – The Telegraph 43 (Autumn 1992)

Interview: Danny Kalb – The Telegraph 47 (Winter 1993)

Izzy's Notebooks  – The Telegraph 56 (Winter 1997)

Stealin' Stealin': Bob Dylan & The Blues, 1961-1963 – The Telegraph 54 (Spring 1996)

Talkin' Folklore Center: Izzy Young – interview by Jan Semneby, The Telegraph 56 (Winter 1997)

The Wanted Man Interview: Robert Shelton – The Telegraph 54 (Spring 1996)

 

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