Hey, hockey puck! In this week's Wall Street Journal, I interviewed Don Rickles on his childhood growing up in Queens (go here). In the process, I got zinged a good bunch of times. Don is still a quick-draw chops-buster, and my job as a writer was to get him to run me over as many times as possible before the interview was done. Mission accomplished. [Photo of Don Rickles in Biloxi, Miss., for a recent performance by Edmund D. Fountain for The Wall Street Journal
And finally, my interview with Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell on Joni Mitchell's Free Man in Paris (go here). It's amazing how much Sarah Jesica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw character sounds exactly like Candace on the phone.
Dylan Goes Electric. Following my WSJ essay on the reasons behind the booing at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 when Bob Dylan and his electric band performed, I received an email from Al Kooper, the organist in the band:
"Did it not occur to anyone that the reason people were really upset was that the headliner of the entire festival, the person that most people had traveled a distance to see, the person that they sat through three days of music, only played for 17 minutes?
"That was the problem, Marc. Journalists turned that around into booing—I only heard people yelling, 'More! More! More!'—and false images of Pete Seeger walking around with a fire ax to cut the sound cables. The fact is someone who shouldn't have touched the house sound for Dylan's set did and did a bad job. Listen to the mono mix on the film versions, as only Bob's voice and Mike Bloomfield's guitar can be heard—no drums, no bass, no organ and no piano."
"Bob didn't really switch the instrumentation. He just went from 3/4 to 4/4 time. I didn't think of it as 'acoustic.' Bob spent a day (June 15th) working on the 3/4 version and overnight decided to switch to 4/4. Since going electric, he's always had his 3/4 and 6/8 compositions. Winterlude comes to mind. I think the lyric on Like a Rolling Stone was more balanced to sing in 4/4 and overnight he came to that conclusion. Some bandmembers were switched, but the instrumentation remained the same until they moved Paul Griffin to piano and changed my life (and instrument)."
"Interesting article about Bob Dylan at Newport. I was there. The prevailing mood of the crowd reflected much of our generation's attitude toward social change as reflected by the music. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane and others lit it up in the late 1960s, and the brief flirtation with folk was over, since it was boring.
"We wanted to move and dance, not sway like seaweed in a gentle tide. I think Dylan felt this too and wanted to break out, to give the people what they wanted. Seeger’s music, and folk in general, was always about social injustice and a heavy message. While well done, the repetition just killed the music. Not to mention the acoustic guitar with no beat. Boring!!! Dylan knew the effect of a pounding rhythm section and let this loose on us. What a relief! Now we could enjoy Dylan instead of putting him on the back shelf."
Highlights for adults. Jim Eigo of Jazz Promo Services tells me that Jack Kleinsinger, the producer and director of Highlights in Jazz, New York's longest-running jazz concert series, has donated the entire Highlights archive to The University of North Florida. You can check it out by going here.
John Taylor (1942-2015), a British pianist and composer, died on July 17 after suffering a heart attack at one of his performances in France. He was 72. Swedish jazz pianist Jan Lundgren reflects on Taylor here. Here's Taylor in action with Charlie Haden in 2003 on Au Contraire...
Ella Fitzgerald radio. On Sunday, July 26, Danny O'Bryan will be broadcasting his 1978 radio interview with Ella Fitzgerald, from 8 to 10 a.m. (EST) on his show Jazz Insights. You can listen from anywhere in the world on your computer by going to WFPK here and clicking "listen live."
Willis Conover remembered. My blogging colleague Doug Ramsey of Rifftides had a superb piece in this week's Wall Street Journal on Voice of America's jazzman Willis Conover. To read Doug's piece, go here.
Oddball album cover of the week.
Once you start drilling down into oddballiana, you realize that American album covers had nothing on their European counterparts in the strange department. Here's one for a German teenage "rock party." Nothing funnier and pleasant than an aging teen tooting his own horn while At the Hop is spinning.