John Stewart from the Kingston Trio: “We were in New York and Dylan was the enfant terrible of the Village. He came into this bar called the Dug-Out where everybody would congregate. He was keeping very much to himself and would slink around. He had a single out, ‘Corrina Corrina’, and we were much aware of him and we knew his manager, Albert Grossman. He sent me a tape of some Dylan songs for the Trio to record. One of them was ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and I confess I sent it back. I said, ‘I have no idea what this guy is talking about.’”
Geoff Speed ran the Widnes Folk Club and when he had had Paul Simon as a guest, Paul was working on a new song, ‘Homeward Bound’. When Dylan was at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, Geoff fell asleep. I told him that he had been even more critical than the guy who shouted ‘Judas!’ The most infamous moment in rock history and Geoff Speed was asleep.
Was it hard to harmonise with Dylan? Happy Traum; “No, no, this was very loose. We weren’t trying to be the Everly Brothers! People do moan about Bob’s voice but I’ve always loved it, and when he does sing well, he is right in pitch. It’s not difficult to create harmonies to go along with that. This was loose and easy and we weren’t trying for perfection, which was just as well as there’s no perfection about it (laughs).”
I suggested to Tom Paxton that Dylan, that great champion of the underprivileged, was doing the tour for money. “What’s wrong with that?” said Tom, “Balzac wrote for money. Dumas wrote for money. Dostoevsky was up to his arse in debt and desperate to write for money. Do you think I have come here to sing tonight because I felt like it? Would you be talking to me if someone wasn’t going to pay you for it? It is totally ridiculous to say that someone’s art is holy and that he shouldn’t be thinking of money. Of course, Bob Dylan did that tour for money and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Over the next year we will be giving you updates about the comprehensive biography, Bob Dylan: Outlaw Blues. We will be telling you how you can order signed copies by Spencer Leigh in advance at no extra cost.
You can always reserve your hot-off-the-press signed 1st edition now by simply emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – we will charge you when the book is published.