Buzz Knight 00:00:01
Taking a walk with Buzz Knight. Well, hi. This is Buzz Knight, and I’m the host of the Taking a Walk podcast series. Welcome to our special Greenwich Village series. Now, when we think of the term musical range, I think you really do have to think of Greenwich Village in the the sense that in the Village was such a hotbed of styles and personalities. There was a core backbone, certainly, around singer, songwriting and folk singing, but it was really this incredible range. There were poets, and it was just this alive feeling that was going on. You still feel it to this day, but definitely different in the 60s. So it’s rather fitting that our guests not taking a walk is no stranger himself to musical range. Richard Barone is our guest that as a recording artist with the band The Bongos, he has demonstrated that also as a producer, he’s demonstrated his range. As a professor, he has demonstrated his range. And as an author, he also demonstrates his musical range and his passion for music. He spans decades navigating the musical nuances of the Village with his great new book, Music and Revolution. And it’s about Greenwich Village. In the by the end, you will be transported in time, you will feel like, through a meditation, that you were part of it. So, Richard, it’s so awesome to meet you, and thank you for taking a walk.
Richard Barone 00:01:36
Thank you. I love taking a walk.
Buzz Knight 00:01:38
It’s great to meet you. And what made you write the book?
Richard Barone 00:01:44
It was a long process, and like you said, it was a meditation, and it was a growing obsession for me living in the Village, wanting to know what made it the Village, what made it such a hotbed of creative styles. And it’s a big story. It’s a big story. Almost too big for one. It’s rarely put in one place, let me put it that way, because it really starts with this community that grew over a long period of time that was not part of New York City yet, that was a little apart from what Manhattan was. Much lower Manhattan. This was a tobacco field. It was always a unique landscape. And with the Native American, the LenapeTribe that was here, the pads that were built are really the streets of the Village still. So if you look on any map of New York, you’ll see a grid for most of Manhattan, except for Greenwich Village in a few areas below Greenwich Village in which the streets are winding because they’re paths based on Dutch traders paths and Native American paths. And when the grid was built, the residents of Greenwich Village refused to be on the grid. And that’s symbolic, just simply one element of what makes Greenwich Village just always unique. It’s not on the grid. Just that is such a metaphor.
Buzz Knight 00:03:15
It sure is. And can you talk about the Save the Village movement?
Richard Barone 00:03:21
Sure. Actually, there was more than one there was one that was we see signs of the photos. If you look online, save the Village. There was always a chance to do to get rid of the Village. There is now. I was talking to my students yesterday at the New School, and they were talking about how some of them were complaining. This is not in classroom. This was just in a lobby area where I was visiting and saying hello. They were talking about how musicians being arrested now for playing music in Washington Park. This is something that was resolved, really, in 1961 with what they called the Beatnik Riots that I cover in the book, in which musicians stood up to authorities and said, we do have every right to play music here. But yet still in 2022, some musicians, for playing a guitar or bongo drum in the park are being arrested. So there’s always this kind of trying to keep it’s futile because the Village is always hello, thank you. The Village is always going to be the Village, no matter what. No matter what authority says. You can’t play music here or you can’t do this or you can’t have this kind of nightclub or whatever, it’s going to be defied by the villagers, by the people that live here and people that come here.
Buzz Knight 00:04:30
Now, if we were here on a Sunday in the summer and in the 60s, in the 50s, when Sunday’s in the Square, as you describe it, what would we be seeing and feeling and sensing?
Richard Barone 00:04:47
A fantastic gathering of musicians, not every style, but of many styles, and put it that way, flamenco guitarists in one corner, bluegrass banjo players in another corner, folk singing, folk traditionalists in the center might be by the fountain, trading folk songs. We were talking earlier, you mentioned the singer songwriter movement. Well, that evolved because at first it was not about writing your own songs. It was retaining and almost like musicology in a way of studying and interpreting very old songs. So you’d be at Washington Square Park and you’d hear some really old folk songs. People trading them say, have you heard this and have you heard that? And then the thing that happened that was magical is that these styles merged so that the folks singing would hear the bluegrass banjo in the next corner or hear the flamenco guitar or hear the blues guitar players, and the style started merging because they’re in a park, in the same park. It’s not that big of a park, and yet every fraction of music had a pocket in it. But the music started to merge because they would notice. Well, that’s pretty cool. That’s pretty nice. So you’ve got a lot of mixing of styles. It can only happen here. It seems like it could only happen here. New York especially had such an influence of different types of people and immigrants and everything that the park was a meeting place for all those different things. That’s why the music came together in that way.
Buzz Knight 00:06:20
There’s a great picture in the book which really lays it out to me. And I’m sure there are other examples of it where there’s this picture of Patti Smith.
Richard Barone 00:06:30
Oh, yeah. I love it.
Buzz Knight 00:06:31
Eric Anderson. Love it. Two people coming at the world, definitely from a different space. Wasn’t Patti doing poetry theater?
Richard Barone 00:06:42
She was doing poetry, but, you know, slowly putting music into her poetry. And there was a precedent for that in the late 50s when the Beat poets were performing here in the Village, on McDougal Street, at the Gaslight, for instance, and other places. That was really a poetry club. It was the Gaslight Poetry Club. And they had musical interludes, so a poet would read or recite, and then they take a 15 minutes break and there would be a musician. So that came together there, too, the idea of the music and poetry. And, of course, Jack Kerouac and other Beat writers befriended David Amram. Do you know who David Amram is? David Amram, who’s performing with me. He does often. I love him. To me, he’s a teenager, but he’s a 91 year old teenager. I love it. He composed music for Jack Kerouac writings, and they did a very famous Beatnik movie called Pull My Daisy. That’s quite fascinating. I saw it when I was in film school, and it was just a thrill then to later meet David Amram. Like many of the artists that I have met in my life and career, I studied them first. Jonas Mekas is what I write about in the book with the avantgarde film movement of the had already studied his work and ended up being mentored by him and Pete Seger, who I’ve adored on television as a child. And seeing him perform his songs, that really moved me. I got to produce his last single.
Buzz Knight 00:08:22
Wow, that’s awesome.
Richard Barone 00:08:23
So I’ve been blessed with that. And I was able to use some of these friendships in the book in different ways. Their voices come through me throughout the story.
Buzz Knight 00:08:35
Well, yeah. I love it how Donovan’s voice comes through you.
Richard Barone 00:08:38
Donovan’s voice. And Tiny Tim.
Buzz Knight 00:08:40
Richard Barone 00:08:40
Don’t forget Tiny Tim. He was a great early mentor when I was a teenager.
Buzz Knight 00:08:45
And also Happy Traum.
Richard Barone 00:08:49
Happy Traum. Great. Happy Traum has the last scene in the book, too.
Buzz Knight 00:08:54
I love that.
Richard Barone 00:08:56
Well, you know, it was my I love that part of the book. I didn’t know how to end the story because it is a story. When people read Musical Revolution, they’re going to find it as almost like a novel, I think, in some ways, except that it happens to be all true. Right. It’s a nonfiction novel, and I didn’t know how it ended. To me, it doesn’t end because The Village continues. I’m here. We’re here now. But the ending came to me from my students. We were studying the Beatnik riot in which the musicians had an uprising. It wasn’t really a riot, by the way. It was just a protest to allow music to be played in Washington Square Park. But my students one student raised her hand and said, professor, can we go there? And I’m going. For a moment, there was, Go away. Go to the park. And I said, okay. And she said, and play music on a Sunday. And I thought, yes, let’s do it. So Happy Traum happened to be our guest that day in the classroom on Zoom because of the pandemic. He was on Zoom, but he was in our classroom. And so I said, Happy, would you like to join us there? So he did. So we got together on a Sunday in the park, and it was just a beautiful meeting of generations. Also, my young students, they’re roughly 20 years old. And Happy, as you know, he was here in 61. He was nearly arrested at the riots. He was roughed . It’s in a film called Sunday people can find on YouTube. The film is called Sunday by Dan Drasin. I believe it’s the correct pronunciation. We even had Dan on the FaceTime on the phone on that Sunday in 2021.
Buzz Knight 00:10:32
Oh, wow. How special.
Richard Barone 00:10:34
And Happy Traum was there. And I handed in my guitar. It could have happened 50 years ago or whatever the timeframe is. It was timeless, a timeless moment. And that ending came to me for my students because as we met in the park, it just seemed to wrap up my story.
Buzz Knight 00:10:51
Yeah, it did. Beautiful.
Richard Barone 00:10:52
Buzz Knight 00:10:53
I love the lunch that you described.
Richard Barone 00:10:55
With Barry Kornfeld that was here right now, right? We’re sitting talk about that. Well, Barry Kornfeld people kept mentioning to me, oh, I should interview him. I did 80 interviews for the book, but not 80 different people. Some of them were multiple interviews. As the book progressed over a period of a year, I would call them at all hours of the day and night to say, Wait a minute. What is that? Or, Wait a minute, what did you say about this? Help me understand this, because some scenes were hard for me to really get my head around. Some competitions between artists, some romances. But wait, how did this work? Terry Thal, as an interviewee who managed Bob Dylan and others was a wealth of information, but she recommended I speak to Barry . I knew his name from records because on Simon and Garfunkel records, I think Bob Dylan some recordings of Bob Dylan, I believe, but other records, I always saw Barry Kornfeld’s name, so I thought I should meet him. And I really had a fantastic talk with him, the way that we’re talking now. But he opened up about just how I got a great sense of how it felt to be there and also to be not a celebrity, but to be the accompaniest to celebrities. The story comes through him in a beautiful way. It was Donovan who told me, speak to the ones who no one knows the names that are not known because that’s where the story is. That’s where your story is. That’s what Donovan told me.
Buzz Knight 00:12:24
I love that. Well, so let’s talk. There’s so many names. That what I think is so beautiful about the book. There’s names that people may know and then there’s names that may not. There’s some, obviously, that are alive. There’s many past. So maybe we can touch on a few of these names. Absolutely resonate in my heart. Richard and Mimi Farina.
Richard Barone 00:12:49
Yes, well, it’s one of the that story has an element of scandal because Richard was married to Carolyn Hester at the time. Now, that’s another name who some people may not know, but she was, I think, a superstar of folk music. She was on the cover of magazines.
Buzz Knight 00:13:09
Saturday Evening Post, rather ravishing, I might say.
Richard Barone 00:13:12
Beautiful. Beautiful and known as the Texas Songbird. She was had a ravishing voice as well as her physical appearance. She was beautiful and she had a great look with folks who were wearing high heels. She was a very sexy gal, still is. A fabulous singer personality and an archetype of the female singer songwriter of the early sixty s, I think, who created a template that was then copied by others. I don’t want to say Joan Baez imitated her, but Joan does sometimes really sound like her. And she did come out, I can say that. And I didn’t interview Joan for this book. For some characters, especially ones who did not live in Greenwich Village, I went to other sources, for instance, footage of other interviews they did, especially if it was contemporaneous to the book, were 60s interviews. But even if it was more recent for Joan, I got some wonderful footage from BBC Television and they had done a special on her and she really opened up and certain things were so personal. I don’t think I could have asked, oh wow. But she did talk about them.. So that is in the book. I was able to use some wonderful sources besides my own interviews and I interviewed almost every day. I did a lot of talking during the writing of this book and a lot more listening. But yes, you were asking about we talked about Barry , but you were asking about I’m sorry
Buzz Knight 00:14:45
Well, Richard and Mimi.
Richard Barone 00:14:46
Oh, Richard and Mimi, of course. So Carolyn, Hester was married to Richard and he flew into town kind of a wild man, a wild guy. And she met him at an Irish public bar, irish legendary tavern called the White Horse Tavern. Now, that was a hangout. Dylan would be there and soaking in a lot of the Irish folk songs that then became his familiar songs, to be honest. , the Clancy Brothers, who were very very important figures in the early village scene in the 60s, clancy brothers were an Irish bunch of brothers who were actually actors. They were actors. And they had set up a camp at the Cherry Lane Theater in the village, which is still there. Great theater. And they were trying to bring Irish plays, but they also love music. They were musicians as well. And they started doing shows at night to raise money to fund their theater, to fund their theater rental and some fun putting on place. And so they were important. They were often at the White Horse Tavern. It was an Irish pub. And Richard was hanging out there. Met Carolyn. Hester swept her off her feet, off her high heels. And they had a whirlwind romance in a marriage. They got married, but it was troubled, and the book lays it out. I did a lot of interviews with Carolyn. I adore her, and her stories were just so colorful and fantastic. But she had a worldwide romance and marriage. But he had his way. He wanted to be part of the act. Now, Carolyn was already established as quite a fantastic solo folk singer. Yes. But he kind of found his way on stage with them, and I think there was something awkward about it. He wasn’t really a folks singer. She didn’t consider him a folk singer. Here she is from the tradition where you really learn the song you play Hootenanny, if the listeners don’t know Hootenannys, like the equivalent of a jazz jam session, but for folk music. And people just pick up an instrument and play, and everybody trades songs. Well, you know, he never did all that, but he didn’t pay his dues, to put it that way. So it wasn’t appropriate for her, in our mind, and maybe in my mind, that he would enjoy her on stage so much and become a manager and agent. It was just too much. It became trouble. But then she was rolling with that. But somehow then in France, on a trip, he met Mimi, who I believe was 16. Oh, my God, I’m telling you. And that’s the sister of Joan Baez.
Buzz Knight 00:17:22
I was going to say.
Richard Barone 00:17:23
So it’s Mimi . And she’s adorable. In fact, other people I interviewed, and I’m not sure if I put this in the book because I couldn’t write everything. I only had 300 pages to work with. So John Sebastian and others told me that he said he would be speechless in meeting by his presence because of her beauty and charm. Speechless. And John Sebastian is rarely speechless.
Buzz Knight 00:17:47
Well, and obviously Joe Baez, rather stunning
Richard Barone 00:17:51
Was just commanding presence.
Buzz Knight 00:17:53
Richard Barone 00:17:55
And her sister in a different way also. So anyway, Richard fell for Mimi. And they had a whirlwind marriage. They had a whirlwind marriage that ended in a tragedy on Mimi’s 21st birthday. It was a whirlwind. But I do think and this is where I may be in disagreement, maybe with Carolyn Hester. And I love her. I think he did some amazing music and I played for my students. We talked about the poetry. He was very poetic in his lyrics. He was a writer. He had written a novel which Carolyn had to tighten most of it up for him.
Buzz Knight 00:18:31
Richard Barone 00:18:31
Buzz Knight 00:18:32
Richard Barone 00:18:32
She had a rough time, I think, with him. Yes. His songs were interesting. And I mean, he was and I say in the book that I think he was giving Bob Dylan a run worth money during a certain period.
Buzz Knight 00:18:46
I think that’s right. Yeah. I think it was a certain moment of his timing. Maybe.
Richard Barone 00:18:54
They weren’t Columbia Records. Dylan was signed to Columbia.
Buzz Knight 00:18:57
Richard Barone 00:18:58
He had the files of Columbia Records. Richard, Mimi were on, like, was it Vanguard or some other label which would not have had the facilities to promote in the same way. I’m just saying that as an aside.
Buzz Knight 00:19:10
Richard Barone 00:19:10
That’s not to say any quality. That’s not about the quality or anything. But I do think they make a wonderful record and it’s such a charming presence as they do as a husband and wife.
Buzz Knight 00:19:19
Richard and Mimi, I couldn’t help thinking about them maybe a little bit with some of the characters in the Coen brothers Inside Llewyn Davis.
Richard Barone 00:19:31
Yeah. And especially with them. I see them reflected in the movie. A Mighty Wind.
Buzz Knight 00:19:36
Definitely. Exactly. Actually, on earlier version of the Taken A Walk podcast Ed Begley Jr. part of it, too. Part of that whole troupe.. A few of her names Janice Ian.
Richard Barone 00:19:54
What a story. And I love her, too. I’ve worked with her and have sang I Believe. I believe we’ve sang together at the Bottom Line here in the Village because we wrote songs for a woman named Marti Jones in the 80s. We both wrote for her. And then we had a concert in which we sang them the songs that we wrote r. It was really cool. But Janice was because now she’s an adult, so we can’t call her a prodigy. But she was a prodigy. I think she was 13 when she first performed in Greenwich Village.
Buzz Knight 00:20:25
Richard Barone 00:20:25
Yeah. And I believe she was 13 when she started writing Society’s Child.
Buzz Knight 00:20:31
Oh, no kidding.
Richard Barone 00:20:32
But of course, the thing was, it’s quite a story about how that song then the difficulty, it had been played on the radio. It was about interracial romance between teenagers.
Buzz Knight 00:20:42
Richard Barone 00:20:44
And say 14 ish 14. It came out when she was 15, but she had already had a song written and had gotten a producer. They just couldn’t land a record deal. And when they finally did, then it was almost blacklisted. That can be played until Leonard Bernstein. .
Buzz Knight 00:21:07
Richard Barone 00:21:08
Leonard Bernstein. Let’s say that I like either. They’re both great. It’s a great name. And his name is so weighty.
Buzz Knight 00:21:15
Richard Barone 00:21:16
Yeah, right. You know, it’s a song to me. I’ve never actually met him with his daughter. Many times Leonard had a television special about pop music and presented Janice, then a 14 or 15 year old, on his show, and he analyzed the song musically and lyrically and explained it to the country. This was on a CBS or NBC television special. And so when he did that, then people had to accept it because they had the sign of approval, the seal of approval of Leonard. And it was able to be then a hit record for Janet at a young age. So she was up by 15 and she was touring in large, big venues, promoting it. But she took a lot of backlash on the stage because of this subject matter.
Buzz Knight 00:22:06
Richard Barone 00:22:08
It was something and I write about it the book that came out of a personal experience at her own school that she witnessed, I think.
Buzz Knight 00:22:14
So that was the beginning, certainly, of FM radio, which allowed for some of the handcuffs to be taken off, right?
Richard Barone 00:22:21
So a lot of this music, that part of the reason the scene took off. Now, one thing about the Greenwich Village scene, it’s very, very important that we should not miss out on, say, on the show, is that this was not just singersongwriters. This was the origin of the singersongwriter movement, I believe, here, because it was a folk scene. There’s jazz in the neighborhood, and they were musicians were always listening to jazz. Some of these folks in here, they get off stage and go into a jazz club. And then when they made records, the musicians that are backing them are jazz musicians like Bill Lee, who was a Spike Lee’s father, and other musicians who were jazz players were the backing band. But it was both music. Carolyn Hester had Bill Lee on her album. She’s a great bass player, but jazz, you know what I mean?
Buzz Knight 00:23:07
Yeah, well, also, too, you talk about this, the Chambers brothers breaking out in terms of what their music signified. It was really this explosion of different things all coming together. So everything was really cranking here in terms of just influences. Like you said earlier.Jose Feliciano
Richard Barone 00:23:30
Wow, he blew people away. He was just blind kid. Puerto Rican comes in again, different. We do all different. We don’t think of it. But all these people are different ethnic backgrounds. I mean, Richie Havens there are a few African Americans there’s, not so many, but there’s like, Native Americans with several Patrick Sky and of course, Buffy Saint Marie. And the one you just mentioned was Jose, Latino and he’s blind. We’re going to fly on the guitar. John Sebastian always has the quote. He was like, oh,, no, actually, this quote might come from Dave Van Ronk where you can’t do that with a guitar.
Buzz Knight 00:24:12
Richard Barone 00:24:12
It’s impossible. But of course he did. He is still a fantastic player and he was a wonderful interview I got to a lot of these artists I got to meet when I produced a concert in Central Park in 2018, also called Music and Revolution. Okay? And I had John Sebastian, I had Jesse, Colin Young, I had many, and Melanie and a lot of the artists that I write about or at least mention Melanie came a bit later in the scene. So she’s not part of the story of Greenwich Village, but I write but she’s there and she appears in the later part. But we performed together on stage. Some of these little tiny bits of interviews sometimes happened during the concert because we would talk and I was on stage announcing and I was playing with them, playing baseball, many of the artists oh wow. And I would say, well , what about this? I don’t like that. Some of these little mini quotes that are in the book sometimes came from what happened on stage with me, with them.
Buzz Knight 00:25:07
Richard Barone 00:25:08
Buzz Knight 00:25:09
Oh my goodness.
Richard Barone 00:25:10
Wow. Fred Neil. Fred Neil not just the talent, he was also a great host of the Cafe while afternoon shows, which was the first Bob Dylan performance in the city, playing harmonica for Fred Neil because he had these afternoons, they became a little scene, an afternoon scene. It was a 24 hours circus here. It wasn’t just nighttime, I think. So by the afternoon after breakfast or lunch, there was already the club scene happening at the Cafe Wha and Fred Neil was the host. So he was a fantastic songwriter, but also I believe took that job as being the hosted at the afternoon shows and The Ringmaster as a serious he took it seriously. He brought an artist like Dylan or allowed them to be and Karen Dalton and they now nearly forgotten but fantastic artists. There’s a recent documentary about Karen Dalton. She’s like Billie Holiday or something. She sings in a scorched earth kind of expressionistic vocal style that’s now modern.
Buzz Knight 00:26:15
Richard Barone 00:26:17
Yeah, I mean think Amy Winehouse or some other artist that have this very stylized way of singing. Well, Karen Dalton was doing that as well in the early sixty s and she Fred Neil brought her into the scene. She would sing with him. Fred Neil was a great let’s do it like a conduit as well as being a fantastic songwriter. Not just everybody’s talking. But the unique thing about him and I wrote about in the book is that many of his songs are about leaving New York where other people were quite other people on the scene were quite thrilled to be. Especially like Van Ronk who said why would I go anywhere else? I’m already here, right? Fred Neil is always talking about going where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain. He was going he wanted to go to Florida or something, you know what I mean? And his songs are fantastic and they’ll last forever.
Buzz Knight 00:27:02
How great is it that David Chase and his musical advisors for The Sopranos, that scene, the dolphins.
Richard Barone 00:27:14
Yes. Because he was so interested in the dolphins and he gave all the money to dolphin protection.
Buzz Knight 00:27:22
That’s just so beautiful. People get to rediscover or discover an artist like that for the first time.
Richard Barone 00:27:29
I love that. And one last thing about Fred Neil, that’s interesting, too, is that his songs became known not by his own performances so much, but by the cover versions also. Because even the Jefferson Airplane did his song. The other side to this life. That’s the correct title. They might have messed up it. The Other Side to the life, which is about being a musician in the city. It’s very specific. It’s not an easy life. It’s not as glamorous as it may look. And they took it and they made like a jam as San Francisco style jam session out of it. But it actually was written by Fred.
Buzz Knight 00:28:00
Yup. Well, I love it. And then there’s somebody else that I mentioned when we spoke on the phone that I love how you tell the story of Phil Ochs.
Richard Barone 00:28:09
Buzz Knight 00:28:10
What a brilliant performer. Singer songwriter, obviously tremendously tortured in his own regard as well, but a brilliant musician. And talk about him and in particular his view of the world, which led to certainly protest songs that he wrote and led the way on.
Richard Barone 00:28:38
And he also wrote many other types of songs and he was very poetic. But people know him for his political songs because he was the most political on the scene, the most outwardly political. Now, why do I say that? Because other ones, Buffy Saint Marie was too. Well, Phil was visibly on the front lines at many of the Vietnam protests and other phil is always there in the front lines, visibly as a protester. And his songs, he wrote sometimes he wrote anthems. I think they’re timeless. Now, some people say, well, that’s just suited for the Vietnam War era. But they’re not like, I ain’t marching anymore. Doesn’t mention Vietnam once. He just says, I ain’t marching anymore. I’m not going to war. And he was in the ROTC when he was in high school, early years of college. He got out of it, but he did march right and he didn’t believe in the war machinery, what is the word? The military industrial complex, I think that’s the phrase. He really was against that. Now, all of that, it was painful when his message didn’t maybe he felt it wasn’t always coming through. And secondly, there are many folds to this drama. Secondly, that he wasn’t also taken seriously as a poet because I think he saw himself as a writer, not just a protest, but of poetry. Like his song, for instance, Changes. It’s really one of the most beautifully poetic songs of that era.
Buzz Knight 00:30:07
Richard Barone 00:30:08
And he wrote that. I mean, I think sometimes I perform that as a. mashup with Blowin in the Wind.. I do it as a conversation between Bob Dylan and Phil
Buzz Knight 00:30:18
Richard Barone 00:30:19
Because in heaven, of course. Phil in heaven. Phil here. I mean, Bob here because why? Because they were at odds with each other often. Phil Ochs deeply admired Bob Dylan and thought he was the best. He said that because when Phil Ochs arrived in New York, he said, my first goal was to be the best songwriter in the world. A couple of Ferraris. So Phil arrived in the Village wanting to be the best songwriter. I think he said in the world. I don’t think it’s just in Greenwich Village or in New York. I think he’s in the world. And then he met Bob Dylan. So, okay, I’ll be the second best. So he gave credit where credit was due. Sure. But Bob gave him a hard time. Bob Dylan. I shouldn’t say first name because I don’t know him, but Dylan gave him a hard time and often said, you’re not really a poet, you’re just a journalist. Now, it’s true that Phil was a journalist student and a journalist who wrote for many magazines. Did you know that? He wrote for many magazines? He wrote for a lot of these I guess you call them fanzines of the folk music scene. He wrote reviews of the albums. He was it. He was a journalist, he was a writer. So Bob Dylan wasn’t really wrong. I had to qualify that in the book. Wow. Is this the loudest corner ever?
Buzz Knight 00:31:43
When Ferraris go by? Yes. Everything happens 10 miles an hour.
Richard Barone 00:31:46
All hell breaks loose.
Buzz Knight 00:31:47
Richard Barone 00:31:48
I live at the far end of Waverly, the last block, so it’s much quieter. But I do live on the street. Phil never felt he was given the credit he deserved, and I think that’s true.
Buzz Knight 00:32:06
I do. In closing, I think about certainly somebody like Phil Ochs, and I think about the times that we live in today.
Richard Barone 00:32:18
Buzz Knight 00:32:20
Are you surprised that at such a crazy time that we’re living in that we’re not seeing a bubbling under of music? I’m not saying it would be identical as the 60s, but in its own form in 2022 and beyond. Does this surprise you?
Richard Barone 00:32:44
It stuns me. It stuns me that people aren’t using their voice, that musicians are not using their voices more to protest in a poetic way or in any way more. When I say this to my students, they say, yeah, but there’s this rapper who does this, but I’ve never heard it. One of the differences is that in the 60s there were only three television networks and a certain limited number of radio stations in each town. And everyone was hearing the same music. More so than today. Because now everyone has their own private channels and streaming services and there’s so many or networks, there’s so many on cable that we’re not all hearing the same messaging and the same song. So that you really have to go seek everything out. So it spread out. There are artists doing music with messages, but we’re not all experiencing them together. We’re not really experiencing any music together anymore. I mean, think of it this way. When The Doors went on, and this is not a Greenwich Village group, but it’s at the same era, it’s during the same time, when The Doors would go on The Sullivan Show or something, so many people of different ages, not as much, and locations would see them at the same or The Beatles. That’s really in the book, but see them at the same time, so the message would reach so many people. And now we don’t have that. We don’t have that concentration of media. It’s so spread out that it’s hard to get a message through in the same way. I think that’s part of it. But again, I don’t see that many artists. I hear a lot of music. My students play music for me, my friends. I hear new stuff daily, and I’ve heard very few songs that really address anything.
Buzz Knight 00:34:39
Well, maybe things will come around.
Richard Barone 00:34:42
Well, that’s one of my dedication of the book. And it’s to my mother and to my students, and I say, for my students, may their music create a revolution of its own. I mean, I really want this book I want this book to be a call to arms as well as a historical book. I want it to be an inspiration that things can change and that you can make things happen. I mean, this era that we’re talking about in this book did change history. It opened up a lot of freedom for young people. It changed the way songwriters could write their own songs without record company interference as much. Because before that, you were given music to sing , people would choose your songs and then you just sing them. And this era and Village changed that dynamic forever.
Buzz Knight 00:35:31
I think it’s beautifully done. It’s all about the passion for music, which is what I love about it as well.
Richard Barone 00:35:39
Buzz Knight 00:35:39
And I totally believe others will love it. Richard Barone, thank you so much.
Richard Barone 00:35:46
Buzz Knight 00:35:47
Richard Barone 00:35:48
Buzz Knight 00:35:49
Richard Barone 00:35:49
Buzz Knight 00:35:50
Richard Barone 00:35:50
Thank you so much for having me.
Buzz Knight 00:35:53
Taking a Walk With Buzz Knight is available on Spotify, Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.