Freitag, 25. November 2011

Various Artists, "Saturday of Folk Music", Riverside Church, New York, NY, July 29, 1961

Recently, I came across two CDs of amateur recordings from the July 29, 1961 "Saturday of Folk Music", broadcast on WRVR, New York, NY.

Whoever had the foresight to record this for posterity, did it with amateur equipment off the air -- there is a fair amount of interference and the reel-to-reel recording was stopped, whenever the taper seemed not to be interested in an artist. Upon restarting, the beginning of songs are cut frequently, as the taper did not manage to push the button on time -- so, quite a few songs are fragments only.

Moreover, this is from a tape labeled "Part 2" -- other tapes have not been located so far, although they might exist, based on the following clue from my detective bag:

-- The performance of a yet unsigned Bob Dylan from that date (featuring Danny Kalb and Ramblin' Jack Elliott) is NOT part of the tape labeled "Part 2" (as Dylan's performance is in circulation for quite a long time, there could be other tapes including his performance and that of others somewhere).

I have no idea, unfortunately, about the sequence of performers during this 12-hour marathon, but have included (unsigned) Bob Dylan's performance for the sake of (temporary) completeness.

Kick back, relax, and enjoy a certainly less-than-perfect historical audio document of an event half a century ago, where Suze Rotolo started flirting with Bob Dylan and where Bob might have first met Len Kunstadt and Victoria Spivey, leading to his recording session with Victoria and Big Joe Williams....

For your convenience, I have transcribed Robert Shelton's review of this event (New York Times, July 31, 1961):

WRVR-FM Program Marks Start of 'Live' Project

A marathon program of folk music was run on Saturday to initiate the live music project of the city's newest FM radio outlet. Aside from a few pauses to identify station WRVR, the sound of ballads, blues, banjos and bouzoukis was heard from 9 A. M. to 9 P. M.

From noon on, the "festival" was held in the theatre of Riverside Church before a vociferously appreciative audience. The co-producers, Israel G. Young and Bob Yellin, rounded up more than fifty volunteer performers, of whom only a handful fell below a general high level of competence. No one was paid for his efforts, but the success of the program may serve to remind commercial radio and television stations that there is a largely untapped reservoir of zealous city folk musicians ready, willing and able to perform.

Although there were enough lapsv [SIC] of broadcasting practices during the day to gray a studio official's hair, the musical proceedings moved along with pace and variety and relatively few arid patches.

Commentary by Kunstadt

The segment on the blues, probably the day's best portion, was given shape by the commentary of Len Kunstadt, a jazz historian with a flair for aphorism and enthusiasm.

He introduced a series of singers—Bob Fox, Bruce Langhorne, Dave Van Ronk, the Rev. Gary Davis and Victoria Spivey —who touched on every aspect of the genre — traditional and commercial, sacred and profane, sad and even happy blues. Miss Spivey, whose recording career began in 1926, had as her accompanist on "St. Louis Blues" W, C. Handy Jr., son of the song's composer.
An exotic interlude of music from the Middle East was provided by local Greek and Turkish performers organized by J. R. Goddard and introduced by Cynthia Gooding in a section on foreign music. The Turkish songs of Saliha Tekneci were sinuous and haunting. The oud-playing of George Mgrdichian was dancingly rhythmic and tonally beautiful. And a taxim, a free improvisation on the bouzouki by Thomas Athanasiou, was inventive and pulsing.

The more-familiar banjo had its moments, too. Paul Cadwell is an old-school florid technician with a bag of virtuoso tricks, and John Cohen demonstrated traditional country styles. The flashy pyrotechnics of Scruggs-picking were offered by Roger Sprung, Marshall Brickman and Mr. Yellin.

Sandy Bull Performs

But it fell to a young music-J theory student, Sandy Bull, to really plumb the depths of creativity on the "primitive" folk instrument. Mr. Bull is equally at home in Southern mountain and blues styles, but his tonal richness, technical mastery and imagination excelled in his own explorative banjo transcriptions of a canon by William Byrd and Orff's"Carmina Burana," no less.

Among the newer promising talents deserving mention are a 20-year-old latter-day Guthrie disciple named Bob Dylan, with a curiously arresting mumbling, country-steeped manner;
John Wynn, a polished, poised tenor whose art-song approach to balladry was impressive; Tom Paxton, a Western singer with' an obvious potential as a songwriter, and Buddy Pendleton, a country fiddler of rare vintage.

It would be impossible to list every high point during the day, but some old friends did
have  their innings.  Among them were Logan English's tart topical song on the Washington Square    ruckus    and    John Herald's alfalfa-flavored sacred, song, "We Need a Whole Lot, More of Jesus and a Lot Less Rock 'n' Roll."

The personable stage manner of Molly Scott, the hand-clapping gospel rousers of Brother John Sellers and Herman Stevens, and the antics of Rambling Jack Elliott were other pleasing moments.

There were few big-name performers to give glamour to the proceedings, but the talent
and exuberance of so many dedicated musicians made the day one to remember.



Ramblin' Jack Elliott
01   San Francisco Bay Blues
02   How Long Blues
03   Hard Traveling
04   Talking Fisherman
ß5   I Belong to Glasgow
06   Cocaine

07     unknown Turkish singer  & 08 another unknown (??? - sounds like French) singer

John Wynn

09   Preamble
10   Man Is For The Woman Made
11   Let Me Go With You
12   Little Boy How Old Are You?
13   Low And Sweet

Herman Stevens of the Stevens Gospel Singers

14   He's Wonderful
15   He's Got The Whole World In His Hands

16   Station break

17   Bruce Langhorne 

Don't Take Everybody To Be Your Friend

18   Anne Bird

Anchored In Love
Anne Bird & Logan English

19  Sun's Gonna Shine In My Back Door Someday
20  Storms Are On The Ocean
21  Till I Return Again
22  Knoxville Girl

Logan English

23  Barbara Allen
24  Kitty Alone
25  Washington Square Music Permit Blues

John Herald & The Greenbriar Boys

26  Down The Road
27  Stewball
28  Instrumental
29  We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus And A Lot Less Rock And Roll 

Reverend Gary Davis

01  Salty Dog instrumental
02  Instrumental
03  Instrumental

Dave Van Ronk

04  Death Letter Blues
05  Green Green Rocky Road
06  Hoochie Coochie Man
07  Poor Lazarus

Victoria Spivey 
08  Introduction by Len Kunstadt
09  Satan Get Down Below
10  My Man Caught Me Wrong
11  Intro to Saint Louis Blues
12  Saint Louis Blues with W.C. Handy Jr.

Tom Paxton

13  Springhill Mine Disaster
14  Pepperfoot
15  The Train for Auschwitz
16  Sully's Pail
17  Going To The Zoo
18  John Birch Society
19  Pastures Of Plenty

Montag, 22. August 2011

Elizabeth Cotten captured live in the 1960s

Found a wonderful YouTube channel with what seems to be 1960s blues and folk concerts from (most likely) KCTS, Seattle, WA.

I think that these priceless performances should be shared as widely as possible.

So, as my first offering, this is Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten (correct spelling) demonstrating her rather unique guitar style (playing a regularly strung guitar left-handed) with songs like "Freight Train":

For my own archive, I have combined both parts and converted them to Divx (200 MB).

Mittwoch, 22. Juni 2011

From Bob Dylan's Private Record Collection - Blind Boy Fuller (1935-1940)

In a tribute to Suze Rotolo earlier this year, Jeff Gold (of posted pictures/scans of two items from Dylan's personal record collection (folk blues on the European/Dutch Philips label, acquired from Suze) on his own (highly recommended) blog.

Jeff commented:
"To me, these were talismanic objects, filled with the music we now know inspired Dylan so much.  When I asked Rotolo by email why Dylan had written on his albums, she told me that it was similar to making notes in the margins of books for him.  Later I realized at the point he annotated these, he had only been going by the name Bob Dylan for perhaps a year and a half--in fact, he had only legally changed his name in August, 1962--three months before buying these.  It's almost as if he was seeing how his new name fit alongside those of these legendary artists."

I have tried to recreate one of these albums from more recent sources/transfers in my own collection -- most tracks should be superior sound/quality than that of the original -- basically "bootleg" -- album, which Bob Dylan acquired during his first trip to London, England, in late 1962 (possibly at Dobell's Record Shop in Charing Cross Road, where he contributed providing back-up vocals and harmonica for an album by Richard Farina and Eric Von Schmidt).

Please note Bob Dylan's comments on the original sleeve: 
"Drinked up and let out by Bob Dylan
 -- one song from this compilation
("Step It Up And Go") was covered by Bob on his 1992 album "Good As I Been To You".

Full recording details in ID3 tags:
01 She's a Truckin' Little Baby 
02 Screaming and Crying Blues
03 Big Leg Woman Gets My Pay
04 I Want Some of Your Pie
05 Cat Man Blues
06 Been Your Dog
07 Hungry Calf Blues
08 Mojo Hidin' Woman                        
09 Piccolo Rag
10 Lost Lover Blues
11 Night Rambling Woman
12 Step It Up and Go                                                        
13 Keep Away from My Woman      Since I'm not aware which take of this track has
14 Keep Away from My Woman      been used for this compilation, I've included both.
15 Little Woman You're So Sweet                                     
16 My Brownskin Sugar Plum                                             
17 Evil Hearted Woman      

Sonntag, 6. März 2011

"You Can't Make A Living In A Cotton Mill" -- Dave McCarn (1930-'31 Recordings)

I first heard the name Dave McCarn as the author of a song ("Everyday Dirt") covered by Doc Watson on his Folkways debut album, a little later in connection with his trilogy of political songs about labor struggles in the cotton mills of Gastonia, NC, "Cotton Mill Colic" (written in 1926, recorded in 1930), "Poor Man, Rich Man" (Cotton Mill Colic #2) (1930), and "Serves 'Em Fine" (Cotton Mill Colic #3) (1931).

Not unlike Bob Dylan in the 1960s, Dave McCarn used a harmonica rack to accompany himself on harmonica while playing guitar at the same time. In the 1970s, Bear Family Records' earlier incarnation (Folk Variety) issued an LP album, basically a "bootleg", with Dave McCarn's complete recordings, enclosed lyrics and liner notes by Mike Paris:

"Born in 1905 in Gaston County, North Carolina, Dave McCarn entered the textile industry at an early age. He had a great interest in music and played both guitar and harmonica. He developed what might be termed a 'hot-guitar' style, light and syncopated -- and which could well owe its origins to the raggy, Carolina Blues style of Blind Boy Fuller and Gary Davis. During the mid-1920s, McCarn was playing with a local string band when he began to write his own songs. In 1926 he wrote ''Cotton Mill Colic'', perhaps his most significant composition. Yet none of the band had any idea of trying for a career in music -- McCarn least of all. Music was purely a relaxing hobby, providing a welcome relief from millwork.

But the textile industry was hard-hit by depression and industrial trouble, and in 1929 Gastonia witnessed the brutal murder of Ella May Wiggins, a union organiser and strike leader, by a textile company incited mob. Shortly after this, McCarn and his brother set out west in search of more regular employment. However, after a fruitless search, the brothers returned south mostly by courtesy of the railroad companies box-cars. In May 1930, they were in Memphis, Tennessee. Their financial situation was desperate and Dave was about to pawn his guitar when a negro musician told him that the Victor Company were holding auditions for local talent. McCarn, with nothing to lose, auditioned for Ralph Peer. Peer was impressed with McCarn and recorded two songs -- Everyday Dirt and Cotton Mill Colic. The recording fee was sufficient to get the brothers home to Gastonia and the record was later released the following August.

The record sold well and six month later Peer cabled McCarn to record again. For this session (November 1930), McCarn wrote or adapted five pieces -- including a sequel to his Cotton Mill Colic. He recorded once again, for the last time, in May 1931. For these sessions he was accompanied by Howard Long on second guitar. Long was probably a fellow mill worker, and may have been a member of McCarn's string band in the 1920's. Four titles were issued as Dave & Howard. lt is surprising that McCarn was not recorded again, for his records apparently sold well. But his brief foray into the recording industry was over, and he returned to millwork, forgotten by all except a handful of country music enthusiasts. In 1961, he was located and interviewed by Mike Seeger in Stanley, NC. Dave McCarn died on November 7th, 1964, 'Unaffected by folksong boom and somewhat amused that his songs still lived' (Archie Greene notes to 'Tipple, Loom and Rail' -- Folkways FH 5273)."

Mike Paris, liner notes for "Singers of the Piedmont," 
Folk Variety/Bear Family Records 15505, 1970s.

Dave McCarn Discography:

Memphis, TN, May 19, 1930:
Dave McCarn, vocal, guitar
59943-2 Everyday Dirt (Victor V-40274)
59944-2 Cotton Mill Colic (Victor V-40274)

Memphis, TN, November 19, 1930:
Dave McCarn, vocal, guitar, harmonica
62974-2 Hobo Life (Victor 23532)
62975-2 The Bashful Bachelor (Victor 23532)
62976-2 Poor Man, Rich Man (Victor 23506)
62977-2 Take Them For A Ride (Victor 23506)

Memphis, TN, November 20, 1930:
Dave McCarn,guitar, harmonica
62982-2 Mexican Rag (UNISSUED)
62983-2 Gastonia Gallop (Victor 23555)

Charlotte, NC, May 19, 1931:
Dave McCarn & Howard Long (as "Dave & Howard"), vocal duets,
Dave McCarn, guitar, harmonica
62315-2 My Bones Gonna Rise Again (Victor 23577) 
62316-2 Fancy Nancy (Victor 23566) 
62317-2 Bay Rum Blues (Victor 23566) 
62318-2 Serves 'Em Fine (Victor 23577) 

Dave McCarn (Vintage Harmonica blog)
Dave McCarn Biography (Patrick Huber)

Art Rosenbaum's Backroads & Banjos:

On this segment of Backroads & Banjos, Art presents the funny, jovial, and poignant songs of Gaston County, NC native, Dave McCarn. At first McCarn pursued songwriting on guitar and harmonica as relief from his daily work at the textile mill, but after auditioning in 1930 for Ralph Peer, a man credited for founding the early country music industry, his original recordings of “Cotton Mill Colic” and “Everyday Dirt” allowed him a brief foray into professional music before returning permanently to millwork in 1932.

Samstag, 26. Februar 2011

Johnny Cash's "variant" of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" -- "Understand Your Man"

To celebrate what would have been The Man in Black's 79th birthday today, I uploaded several Johnny Cash clips to YouTube -- this one being Johnny Cash's "variant" of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (a song Johnny performed at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival).

"Understand Your Man" was first recorded by Johnny Cash during the November 12, 1963 sessions at Columbia Recording Studio, 804 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN, with Luther Perkins, lead guitar, Norman Blake, guitar, Robert L. "Bob" Johnson, guitar, Marshall Grant, bass, W. S. Holland, drums, William K. "Bill" McElhiney & Karl R. Garvin, trumpets, whereas "Don't Think Twice" was first recorded by Vanguard as part of Johnny's set at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival (July 26, 1964) and subsequently released both by Vanguard and Bear Family Records.

A studio recording of "Don't Think Twice" from a December 18, 1964 recording session was released on "Orange Blossom Special" (1965), along with Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe" and "Mama, You Been On My Mind".

Both "Understand Your Man" and "Don't Think Twice" were attempted/recorded (possibly as a medley) during Johnny Cash & Bob Dylan's joint 1969 Nashville sessions, but remain unreleased.

"Understand Your Man" (a song he had not performed "for 25 years") was the last song performed during Johnny Cash's last (documented) performance at the Carter Family Fold, Hiltons, VA, on July 15, 2003 and preserved on an amateur video recording (recorded with the artist's permission):

Lyrics © 1964 by Southwind Music Inc., New York, NY

Don't call my name out your window, I'm leavin', 
I won't even turn my head;
Don't send your kinfolks to give me no talkin',
I'll be gone like I said.
You'd say the same old things that you been saying all along,
Lay there in your bed, keep your mouth shut till I'm gone.
Don't give me that old familiar cryin', cussin' moan,

Understand your man.

SPOKEN: Tidy your bad mouth
And understand your man.

You can give my other suits to the Salvation Army,
And ev'rything else I leave behind;
I ain't takin' nothin' that'll slow down my trav'lin'
While I'm untanglin' my mind.
I ain't gonna repeat what I said anymore
While I'm breathin' air that ain't been breathed before.
I'll be as gone as a wild goose in winter,
Then you'll understand your man.
SPOKEN: Meditate on it,
Understand your man 

SPOKEN: You hear me talkin', honey,
Understand your man

SPOKEN: Remember what I told you
Understand your man.

Any copyrighted items are included here for "nonprofit educational purposes" (one of the criteria of "fair use", Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107) only.

Freitag, 11. Februar 2011

Donnerstag, 10. Februar 2011

The Death of Emmett Till - Historical & Discographical Background of two unrelated songs by the same title (1996/2011)

Expanded edition of an original article 

first published in, Apr 1996, 

reprinted in "Dignity," No. 7, Nov-Dec 1996, pp. 11-14;
Original Content © Manfred Helfert, 1996-2011. 

On August, 20, 1955, Emmett Till (14 years of age), along with his cousin Curtis Jones (17 years of age) boarded a southbound train in Chicago, Illinois, to visit relatives (Curtis Jones' grandfather and Emmett Till's granduncle, Mose Wright) in Money, Mississippi, a tiny town located in the Delta. Prior to his journey, Emmett's mother, Mamie Till Bradley, had cautioned him to "mind his manners" with white people.
She told her boy not to fool with white people down there: "If you have to get on your knees and bow when a white person goes past, do it willingly."
Juan Williams, Eyes On The Prize, New York, NY, 1988, p. 41.
Just little over a year ago, on May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court had ordered all schools desegregated. On May 31, 1955, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its 1954 decision, calling for "deliberate speed" in the desegregation of all school in the country, resulting in the organization of White Citizens' Councils by angered Southern whites to counteract the court order.

The Jackson "Daily News" openly declared in an editorial, "YES, WE DEFY THE LAW." Throughout the summer of 1955, coinciding with the blacks' growing political boldness in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, there had been an alarming increase in the number of violent acts and even murders committed by whites against blacks.

While staying with Moses Wright, Curtis Jones' grandfather (a preacher), Emmett Till and his cousin drove Wright's '41 Ford into Money to buy candy at Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market. Emmett made friends with some local boys his age hanging around the store and showed them a picture of a white girl, claiming that the girl in the picture was his "sweetheart."

One of the local boys then dared Emmett Till to speak to the white woman (Carolyn Bryant) in the store. According to Curtis Jones, Emmett went back inside the store and bought more candy, saying "Bye, baby" to the white woman as he left. Curtis Jones, Emmett Till and the other boys jumped in their car as Carolyn Bryant came out the swinging screen doors and sped out of town.

News of the incident quickly spread among the local black youth and Emmett and Curtis were warned to leave town before the woman's husband found out. But a week passed without the threatened retribution.

Then, in the "wee hours of the morning" of August 28, 1955, Mose Wright was awakened by a knock on his door. Upon opening, two white men (later identified as J. W. Milam and his half-brother Roy Bryant) asked him for the "nigger here from Chicago", the boy "that did all the talking." Emmett Till then was abducted at gunpoint. Mrs. Wright, trying to come up for his defense, was struck in the head with the side of a shotgun.

Four days later, Emmett's mutilated body, with a seventy-five-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire, was found at the bottom of the Tallahatchie river.
Up until his [Emmett Till's] death, I had heard of Negroes found floating in a river or dead somewhere with their bodies riddled with bullets. But I didn't know the mystery behind these killings then. I remember once when I was only seven I heard Mama and one of my aunts talking about some Negro who had been beaten to death. "Just like them low-down skunks killed him they will do the same to us," Mama had said. When I asked her who killed the man and why, she said, "An evil spirit killed him. You gotta be a good girl or it will kill you too." So since I was seven, I had lived in fear of that "Evil Spirit." It took me eight years to learn what that spirit was.

Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi, New York, NY, 1968, p. 121.

March 1968... "Life" Magazine showed a full-page photo of long-haired Bobbie Gentry walking across the Tallahatchie Bridge, which figured in her song, "Ode to Billie Joe." And some of us did a double take. The location is Money, Mississippi -- a mile or two from where Emmett Till's body was found! Last year, there was a joke among black Americans. They knew what was thrown off that bridge.

Pete Seeger, The Incompleat Folksinger, New York, NY, 1972, p. 307.

Emmett Till had been stripped naked, beaten, and finally shot through the head with a .45 caliber automatic. Upon seeing his mutilated body (identifiable only by a ring on one finger) prior to the funeral, Emmett's mother decided "that the family's privacy was less important than revealing this atrocity to the world." A photograph of Emmett's body in an open casket was published in "Jet" magazine.
The sight of Emmett Till's mutilated body not only shocked blacks, it drew white attention as well. Even whites normally indifferent to racial problems were appalled at this particular brutal murder of a child... the Till case became a pan-racial, nationwide issue. Newsreel and TV cameras swarmed around the Delta.

Jennie Brown, Medgar Evers: Activist, Los Angeles, CA, 1994, p.109.

In her autobiography, Anne Moody remembers some of the reactions (by Blacks and by white Southerners) following the Till murder:
Reactions by young Blacks:
I was coming from school the evening I heard about Emmet (sic) Till's death. There was a whole group of us, girls and boys, walking down the road headed home... However, the six boys in front of us weren't talking very loud... they were just walking and talking among themselves. All of a sudden they began to shout at each other... "That boy wasn't but fourteen years old and they killed him. Now what kin a fourteen-year-old boy do with a white woman?..." "That boy was from Chicago... He probably didn't even think of the bitch as white." ...I walked up to one of the boys. "Eddie, what boy was killed?" "Moody, where've you been?" he asked me. "Everybody talking about that fourteen-year-old boy who was killed... by some white men..."

Moody, pp. 121-122.

Reactions by older Blacks:
But I wanted to ask Mama about Emmett Till... "Mama, did you hear about that fourteen-year-old Negro boy who was killed a little over a week ago by some white men?"
"Where did you hear that?" she said angrily.
"...I heard Eddie them talking about it this evening coming from school."
"Eddie them better watch how they go around here talking. These white folks git a hold of it they gonna be in trouble," she said.
"What are they gonna be in trouble about, Mama? People got a right to talk, ain't they?"
"You go on to work before you is to late. And don't you let on like you know nothing about that boy being killed before Miss Burke them. Just do your work like you don't know nothing," she said. "That boy's a lot better off in heaven than he is here," she continued...

ibid., p. 123.

Reactions by white Southerners:
Anne Moody, who at that time is employed as a domestic servant by "one of the meanest white women in town" (ibid., p. 121) continues:
On my way to Mrs. Burke's that evening, Mama's words kept running through my mind... "Why is Mama acting so scared?" I thought... "Why must I pretend I don't know? Why are these people killing Negroes? What did Emmett Till do besides whistle at that woman?"

ibid., pp. 123-124.

...Mrs. Burke entered the kitchen. "Essie, did you hear about that fourteen-year-old boy who was killed...?" she asked me...
"No, I didn't hear that," I answered, almost choking on the food.
"Do you know why he was killed? ...He was killed because he got out of his place with a white woman. A boy from Mississippi would have known better than that. This boy was from Chicago. Negroes up North have no respect for people. They think they can get away with anything. He just came to Mississippi and put a whole lot of notions in the boys' heads here and stirred up a lot of trouble," she said passionately.
"How old are you, Essie?" she asked me after a pause.
"Fourteen. I will soon be fifteen, though," I said.
"See, that boy was just fourteen too. It's a shame he had to die so soon."

ibid., p. 125.

Anne Moody concludes:
I went home shaking like a leaf on a tree. For the first time out of all her trying, Mrs. Burke had made me feel like rotten garbage. Many times she had tried to instill fear within me and subdue me and had given up. But when she talked about Emmett Till there was something in her voice that sent chills and fear all over me. Before Emmett Till's murder, I had known the fear of hunger, hell, and the Devil. But now there was a new fear known to me -- the fear of being killed just because I was black. This was the worst of my fears.

ibid., p. 125.

I was fifteen years old when I began to hate people. I hated the white men who murdered Emmett Till and I hated all the other whites who were responsible for the countless murders... But I also hated Negroes. I hated them for not standing up and doing something about the murders. In fact, I think I had a stronger resentment toward Negroes for letting the whites kill them than toward the whites.

ibid., p. 129.

Following clues from a white reporter from Jacksonville, Florida, that a gin fan (because of the unique set of grooves it left in a cotton gin) could be matched to a specific machine, the fan tied to Emmett Till's body was traced to J. W. Milam's barn. J. W. Milam and his half-brother, Roy Bryant, were arrested for murder and tried in a segregated courtroom in Sumner by an all-white jury.
"Blacks were not allowed to stand in the halls or sit anywhere in the court..." (Brown, p. 112.)

Mose Wright, eyewitness to Emmett Till's abduction, despite the danger to himself, took the stand. When the prosecutor (referring to this sixty-four-year-old man as "Uncle Mose") asked Mr. Wright if he could see any man involved in Emmett Till's abduction in the courtroom, Mose Wright "looked around, pointed right at J. W. Milam, and said 'Dar he!'" (ibid.).
But despite his identification, the evidence of the gin fan, and eyewitness reports, the jury acquitted Milam and Bryant after only one hour of deliberation.

Brown, p. 113.

Two months after the trial, Alabama native William Bradford Huie (author of "They Slew the Dreamer" and other books on the Civil Rights movement), got the slayers of Emmett Till to confess -- in detail -- to the crime.

Not only did Milam and Bradley admit to abducting Emmett Till from his granduncle's house, Milam also stated that he shot Emmett in the head. Both claimed that they had not intended to kill him, but when Emmett (out of fear?) said that he had a white girlfriend in Chicago, "Milam and Bradley knew what they had to do. Milam said, '[White women are] what we got to fight to protect." (Brown, p. 114.)

Although Huie's interview was published in the January 1956 issue of "Look" magazine, due to the Constitution's prohibition on double jeopardy, Milam and Bradley, despite their confession, could not be legally prosecuted anymore. "But ironically, Milam and Bryant were ostracized for 'disgracing' their community for their well-publicized act." (ibid.)

Jennie Brown concludes:

The Emmett Till case was a turning point not only for Mississippi but for the nation as well. The cloak of darkness... was now lifted on the ugliest manifestations of Mississippi racism. White men would continue to get away with the murder of blacks -- but not without protest from both blacks and whites. Hodding Carter, the editor of the white newspaper "Delta Democrat Times"...: "Mississippi gave a sorry demonstration of an inadequate legal system... that presented an attitude of so little concern that even the people most convinced that two half-brothers were guilty of murdering a young Negro boy... had to admit that the case was not proved."

Brown, pp. 114-115.

In comparing the Till murder to another case tried in Sumner, in which a black gas-station attendant, Clinton Melton, had "been shot in broad daylight by a white customer who had complained that Melton didn't put enough gas in his car" (Brown, p. 115.) -- again, despite eyewitness testimony, this white man was also acquitted (by an all-white jury?) --, Carter stated that these cases "served to cement the opinion of the world... that no matter how strong the evidence nor how flagrant the apparent crime, a white man cannot be convicted in Mississippi for killing a Negro." (ibid.)

Discographical Background of the two unrelated "The Death of Emmett Till" songs:

Bilbrew, A. C.
“The Death of Emmett Till—Part 1 and Part 2.”   
Dootone Records 382.  Performed by the Ramparts  [featuring Benjamin Sherman "Scatman" Crothers].  Published by Dootsie Williams Incorporated, B.M.I. 1955.    Lyrics published in California Eagle, 29 December 1955.
Song retelling what happened to Till, whose “name will be a legend we all know.” When Till agrees that Carolyn Bryant is good looking, saying “Wheee! You’re right,” that “remark cost him his life.” The two white men at trial “grinned and smoked and chewed / As the fearful witnesses all did testify.” In the end, however, it was to no avail, and we “won’t see little Emmett any more.”
Source: Emmett Till in Literary Memory and Imagination

Also covered by Joan Baez on
Pete Stanley and the Cambridge Folk Music Years
Fire at Club 47 (
as "Emmet Till" [sic]

This is most likely 
an unauthorised recording distributed on CD-R 
by Pete Stanley through

Recorded during one of Joan's live performances at Club 47,
47 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA, in 1960, this is nevertheless an important historical document of the Boston/Cambridge folk scene.

Joan Baez In Concert, Part 2 (bonus track on 2002 CD Reissue, Vanguard 79599-2)

Recorded live Knoxville, TN, 1963, Arthur Lewis (author of liner-notes), to avoid possible confusion with the identically-named Bob Dylan song, added the following info:

Another mysterious 'bonus' track is 'The Death of Emmett Till," but not the version composed by Bob Dylan in February 1962 [sic] as a memorial to the Negro murder victim of 1955, which Bob sang at a CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) rally at City College of New York. Bob's Broadside ballad was unknown to Joan. The version of the Emmett Till story she sings here was composed by  Ms. A. C. Bilbrew, distinguished Los Angeles community leader, the first African-American to host a radio show....
Bilbrew's "Emmett Till" was originally recorded by The Ramparts on the LA doo-wop label, Dootone
Dylan, Bob. “The Death of Emmett Till” 
[a.k.a. “The Ballad of Emmett Till”].  First performed 26 January 1962.  Recorded 2 July 1962.  Lyrics in Writings and Drawings, 19. New York, Knopf, 1973.
Recounting the details of the lynching and the trial, the song is notable for its activism and its errors. Dylan not only claims that Milam and Bryant confessed to the crime before the trial started, but he also asserts that “on the jury there were men who helped the brothers commit this awful crime.” The song ends with a call to action, for if “we gave all we could give / We could make this great land of ours a greater place to live.”

Source: Emmett Till in Literary Memory and Imagination

Copyright History:

By publication in Broadside #16 (Mid-November 1962):
as "Ballad of Emmet Till" [sic], by Bob Dylan,
with the notice "©1962 by author" (p. 3)
(reprinted in liner-notes for  Broadside Ballads, Vol. 6: Broadside Reunion, Folkways Records FR 53151, late 1972)

In the 1964 songbook Broadside: Songs Of Our Times  
From The Pages Of Broadside Magazine, Volume 1,  
Len H. Chandler is credited with the tune, 
with the notice "©1962 by authors"

M. Witmark & Sons three-year agreement (July 12, 1962):
assigning/transferring the copyrights of "all musical compositions" created during the term of the contract.

First recording most likely on January 13, 1962 for Cynthia Gooding's WBAI radio show "Folksinger's Choice" (crediting the tune to Len Chandler), eight days after signing a contract with Duchess Music (terms of contract unavailable).

Other 1962 performances/recordings: 

McKenzie Tape (January 29, 1962, possibly December 4, 1961)
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan outtake (April 24, 1962)
WBAI "Broadside Show" (May 1962) (Len Chandler is mentioned again)
Finjan Club, Montreal, Canada, July 2, 1962
Witmark Demo, December 1962  
for copyrighting "©M. Witmark & Sons", February 15, 1963.
Copyright © 1963, 1968 by Warner Bros. Inc.; 
renewed 1991, 1996 by Special Rider Music

All copyright data for Dylan's song compiled from 
Tim Dunn, The Bob Dylan Copyright Files 1962-2007, Bloomington, IN, 2008
Any copyrighted items are included here for "nonprofit educational purposes" (one of the criteria of "fair use", Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107) only.

Dienstag, 8. Februar 2011

Charlie Daniels Interview by Manfred Helfert, January 1991

© Manfred Helfert, 1991; first published in, Feb 1996. 



On Apr 19, 1990, Charlie Daniels and Band played a USO concert at the Rheingold-Halle in Mainz, Germany. At that time, I worked as an interpreter for the local U.S. Military Police who were tasked with providing security for this concert.
I figured that this was the chance to approach Charlie Daniels about his involvement with Bob Dylan from "Nashville Skyline" to "New Morning."

What interested me most was the alleged Dylan/Harrison session, of which tapes had just got into circulation (off the 'Gelston' Columbia Reference acetate II; "Song to Woody" through "One Too Many Mornings").

Unfortunately, Charlie Daniels was pressed for time and had to leave immediately after a very enjoyable concert. I was, however, able to present him with a tape of the acetate songs along with my questions and xeroxed copies from Krogsgaard's 'Master of the Tracks' pertaining to the sessions in question.

What follows is an edited version of Charlie's letter which I received on Jan 28, 1991 (edited in the sense that in most cases I have combined the original questions with his answers).

Dear Manfred,
please forgive me for taking so long to answer your very interesting letter.

Now on to your questions, I will answer them as truthfully and as candidly as I can.
As you're aware, it has been quite a number of years, so we will see how well my memory serves me.
Let me say that as to dates, even the exact year in which something was recorded, I can't say for certain. I am not very good with those sort of things.

Yes, my first Bob Dylan session were [sic] on "Nashville Skyline."
The musicians were as you assumed Charlie McCoy, Kenneth Buttrey, Pete Drake (who were on "John Wesley Harding"), Norman Blake, Bob Wilson and myself...
The list of songs on Nashville Skyline are [sic] correct.
The only song that I didn't play on was "Girl From the North Country" with Johnny Cash.

Were you, like Norman Blake, who played on several Johnny Cash albums, a regular Columbia Records sideman by then?

Although I played quite a number of Columbia sessions, I was not a regular side man for them.

Of the songs on "Nashville Skyline," Dylan stated in a 1969 interview:
"They are the songs I've been writing over the past year. Some are songs that I've sung and never written down and just turn up again. I can't remember where they come from."
Were the songs already written or did he make them up while in the studio?

Dylan did change some of the songs somewhat, and wrote most of "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" after we started the session. But he seemed to have come to Nashville very well prepared.

Your next session with Dylan must have been the May 1, 1969 taping of the Johnny Cash Show at the Ryman Auditorium, which (according to my information) was taped twice.
"Living the Blues" was allegedly even recorded a third time. What was the reason for that?

I don't remember anything about "Living the Blues." I did, however, play the Johnny Cash Show with Dylan.

In May 1969, the sessions for what was to become "Self Portrait" started...
Some songs which are rumored to have been recorded at these sessions are "Thirsty Boots", "Sitting On the Dock of the Bay", "Universal Soldier", "These Working Hands", "Spanish Eyes", "Ball and Stripes Rag" (another title for "Little Sadie"?), "When a Man's Out of a Job", and an earlier version of "Went to See the Gypsy." Do you recall having played on any of these? Or on others?

We recorded so many songs for "Self Portrait" that I cannot accurately remember all the titles. However, some of the titles you mention, I don't recall. But I'm sure that a lot of the songs recorded never ended up on the album. If I remember correctly, some of these sessions were done on the last count and I was not on them. My memory is kind of fuzzy about the rest of the "Self Portrait" period.

The session I am most interested in is one which is supposed to have taken place in New York City, on or around May 1, 1970...  British New Musical Express reported in its May 6, 1970 issue:
"Dylan and Harrison Wax LP Together -- Beatle George Harrison and Bob Dylan have recorded a 'sensational' album together in New York... The recording session took place during a recent visit by Harrison to the States..."
Rolling Stone, in its May 28, 1970 issue went into further details:
"Bob Dylan snuck into Columbia's Studio B in New York on May Day and recorded for 12 hours with George Harrison... Described as 'kind of a nice, loose thing,' the get-together was produced by Johnston, who also sat in on keyboards. Other musicians included Charlie Daniels on bass and an unidentified drummer...
About five of the numbers are reportedly of high enough quality to merit inclusion on a future Dylan album..."
Did this session really take place, and were you a part of it?

First of all, let me thank you for the copy of the tape of the Dylan session...
I have wanted a copy for years and had no idea how to get one, so thank you again...
Yes, the tape you sent me came from the unreleased session.

The New York sessions you refer to were mostly songs which ended up on "New Morning;" these sessions were Dylan, Harrison, Russ Kunkle (sic) and myself.

As far as I know these sessions were never released. We recorded them again in New York, with Russ Kunkle (sic), Al Kooper, David Bromberg and myself. I think that possibly a few other people could have been on the session. At any rate it finally turned into "New Morning"....

One other thing comes to mind that may be of interest to you.
I remember Dylan got very loose and in a good mood that day and sang song after song, almost anything that we'd ask him to sing. I don't know what happened to those tapes, and I don't remember what the songs were, only that there were several of them.
I sincerely hope that the information I have supplied will be of use and interest to you. Again forgive me for taking so long to answer. I hope to meet you some day.
God bless
Charlie Daniels


Donnerstag, 13. Januar 2011

Former GDR Public Library item acquired in 1990 - Wanda Jackson in Prague, CZ, 1987

Whereas "Country Music made in GDR" (see my two previous posts) was rather "lame" and somewhat "fake", other Warsaw Pact countries seemed to be more interested in "the real McCoy" -- as far back as 1978, Johnny Cash and his family entourage performed in Prague (documented by a Czech TV broadcast and a Supraphon album with parts of his performance) and other American artists like George Hamilton IV or Wanda Jackson recorded studio albums with Czech musicians for the state-owned Supraphon label.

Back in 1990, books and records from GDR public libraries appeared on (West) German fleamarkets, and I was able to acquire a few interesting Warsaw Pact items, like a 1987 studio album by Rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson paired with Czech artist Karel Zich
("Let's Have A Party In Prague", Supraphon 11 0199-1311ZB).

Download from my companion blog
(48 MB zipped mp3 including partial scans of cover)

More "Country Music" from behind the Iron Curtain... in German!

A rather strange album (and a historical document, for sure) -- conceived and recorded by state-owned Amiga in 1989, liner-notes from 1990, after the Iron Curtain had collapsed and the GDR prepared for official re-unification with West Germany....

In that respect, the last title 
"Ein neues Leben" (A New Life) sounds almost prophetic!