What Really Happened When Dylan Played The Les Crane Show
Words By: Peter Stone Brown with foreword by Sam Pethers | December 10th, 2015
We try to be as accurate as possible with our articles at Gaslight Records, but given the events we cover occurred at least 20 years before most of our writers were born, it can sometimes prove difficult to get every detail correct.
Luckily, there are people around who were actually present for the events in question and have continued to study them over the past 50 years.
Peter Stone Brown is a singer-songwriter who has appeared on bills with artists such as Lucinda Williams and Roger McGuinn. He is also a freelance writer who, over the pasty 40 or so years, has interviewed Rick Danko, Al Kooper, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino, John Lee Hooker, Arlo Guthrie, Muddy Waters and Levon Helm.
Brown experienced firsthand many of the events we talk about at Gaslight Records, and as a Dylanologist, he is somewhat of an authority on all things Bob Dylan.
So when Brown got in touch to correct a mistake we made in an article last week, we replied, "you should write about it for us then."
Read some of Brown's other work here... http://blog.peterstonebrown.com/category/interviews/
We feel privileged to be able to publish Peter's account of watching Dylan on the Les Crane Show.
Last Monday there was an article posted here on Gaslight Records-- "Bob Dylan Writing 'Like A Rolling Stone'" -- in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the song being recorded. The premise of the article, which dealt with the mixed reception of Dylan’s latest and still very new album was a bit off the mark, especially the part concerning TV host Les Crane.
In this article, Sam Pethers wrote:
“The general feeling toward Dylan's new work was well capitulated during an interview on the Les Crane Show in February 1965. In talking about Dylan's songwriting skills, Crane said, "For those out in the audience that might not know all of the songs you've written just name a few of the big ones." Dylan reluctantly replied, "Ohhhh, Subterranean Homesick Blues", to which Crane quickly interjected, "That ain't one of the big ones, how 'bout "Blowin' In The Wind"". The mention of "Blowin' In The Wind" received an ovation from the audience.”
Perhaps Sam based his writing on a transcript of the show as opposed to the audio recording (sadly, a video of this show does not seem to exist).
Listen below to the full interview.
Dylan appeared on the ABC’s answer to —broadcast from New York City on February 17, 1965. At the time of the show, no one, including Les Crane, knew of the existence of the song “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” A 45 rpm single of the song with “She Belongs To Me” (b side) would be released a couple of weeks later at the beginning of March, followed by the release of the album a few weeks after that.
I was lucky enough to watch the the night Dylan was on. Dylan was rarely on TV back then, a practice he’s continued throughout his career. While there were other guests that night on the show, Dylan was the main guest. He sang two songs, debuting "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" at the beginning of the show, followed by "It's Alright Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding)" at the end, which Dylan had been performing during his concerts the previous autumn. On both songs, Dylan was accompanied by guitarist Bruce Langhorne, who was part of the New York City folk music scene, and previously had backed Dylan on "Corrina Corrina" on . Langhorne played an acoustic Martin guitar, but he had a pickup in the guitar that provided an electric sound. Excepting duets, and a couple of very early appearances, Dylan always played solo. The show also revealed a new look for Dylan. Up to that point, Dylan’s concert attire was a suede jacket and blue jeans. On , he appeared wearing a suit--probably the same one he would wear on the cover of and a white shirt with a snapped tab collar.
The rendition of "It’s All Over Now Baby Blue" joined two other songs in sounding suspiciously like rock and roll numbers: "I Don’t Believe You" and "It Ain't Me Babe" from which was only six months old at the time of the appearance.
After the first song, Dylan did something that never happened before or since: he sat down and talked, staying onstage the entire show. He was hysterically funny, and Les Crane played right along with him. So when Les Crane was trying to let his audience know who Bob Dylan was and what songs he had written, and Dylan said, "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which was right in line with other comments Dylan had made during the night, Crane just figured it was another joke. But no one knew Dylan wasn't kidding until a few weeks later when his new look and sound would be promoted in record stores across the US in the biggest campaign Columbia Records had launched so far. The campaign featured Dylan holding a Fender Stratocaster and wearing his iconic suit and shades. The image slogan read either, "No one sings Dylan like Dylan", or "Bob Dylan brings it all back home on Columbia Records."
Gaslight Records is a way of reviving and reliving the music of 50 Years Ago. Unlike any other music site, everything you'll hear or read about on Gaslight Records will be sourced from music that is at least 50 years old.
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