From the Life of Bob Dylan in 50 Objects
The early Cold War was a pretty scary time for American civilians who were being bombarded with messages about a potential impending atomic holocaust. Death by means of The Bomb was a very real possibility in the back of many of our minds. Books like Nevil Shute’s On The Beach and films like Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove kept the notion alive.
One of the items on display at Karpeles Manuscript Museum Library during Duluth Dylan Fest this coming month is an original manuscript which Dylan wrote for and at the request of Israel “Izzy” Young, who owned a music store called the Folklore Center. This original document from the Bill Pagel Archive will be on view through much of the summer here.
When the young Bob Dylan arrived in New York in 1961, his first destination was Greenwich Village. Izzy Young’s Folklore Center, at 110 MacDougal Street, became one of his haunts. He would often hang around the store listening to Izzy’s records and writing songs. In his Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan wrote this about the Foklore Center: “The place had an antique grace. It was like an ancient chapel, like a shoebox-sized institute.”
Young asked Dylan to write a song for an anti-atomic bomb songbook Izzy hoped to put together. Though he never put out the songbook, he did hang on to this early unreleased Dylan manuscript for over 50 years before parting with it. Izzy Young himself wrote the notation in the upper right corner of the document: “1963 Bob Dylan wrote this when I asked him to do a song for a bomb song book.” Dylan delivered the song the day after he was asked to write it, according to Young.
The song stays within the realm of the social movement and our nation’s shared fears about nuclear war during the early 1960’s. Dylan’s songs “Let Me Die In My Footsteps,” “Masters of War,” “Talkin’ World War III Blues” as well as “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” all reflect this same theme.
In addition to the manuscript Bill Pagel will be including two photos of Izzy Young at the Folklore Center from those early Greenwich Village days.
Israel Goodman Young (March 26, 1928 — February 4, 2019) was a noted figure in the world of folk music, both in America and Sweden. He was owner of the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village and, after moving to Stockholm in 1973, also opened and operated the Folklore Centrum store there. Izzy organized the first New York concert by Bob Dylan and devoted decades of his life supporting folk music.
When a teenage Bob Dylan arrived in New York in the winter of 1961, Young became something of a mentor for him.
Young’s music store, which doubled as a small performance space, had a small back room where Dylan plinked out songs on an old typewriter. Young was struck by Dylan’s ability to absorb everything he heard, but was otherwise initially unimpressed. “Then he began writing those great songs and I realized he was really something.”
EdNote: The info about the late Izzy Young and his Folklore Center was stitched together from Mr. Young’s obituary in the New York Times and Nicole Saylor’s Blog Post for the Library of Congress.
Originally published at https://pioneerproductions.blogspot.com.