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Bob Dylan, Live in Chicago, 1963/1964

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by HominyRhodes, Jun 17, 2015.

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  1. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    In 1963, Bob Dylan played a club date in Chicago, at a place called The Bear (supposedly owned in part by his manager, Albert Grossman, a Chicago native.) A partial tape of seven songs from the show surfaced many years later, and it's now been officially released on one of the "copyright extension" sets. During that same visit to the city, Dylan did an hour-long interview/performance with radio host Studs Terkel, which was also included on the copyright set, although it was edited to some degree.

    The actual dates of these two separate appearances and recordings have always been a matter of some dispute. The Sony/Legacy copyright set for 1963 lists them as April 25th & 26th, which are the same dates used by numerous other sources, including bobdylan.com. At some point, Dylan expert Michael Krogsaard amended his listing of The Bear show to May 2nd, and the date of the Terkel show to May 3rd.

    Here's my theory: I think that Bob may have recorded the Terkel show in the morning or afternoon of May 1st, and then played the show at The Bear that night. I think that Studs (who had many truly spectacular interviews and wrote many wonderful books) was doing some "theatre of the mind" time-shifting, acting like it was Friday even though it was Wednesday, so that the show could be broadcast two days later, on Friday, May 3rd. Many of his shows were, definitely, taped in advance for later broadcasting.

    The newly circulating version of the Terkel show was clearly edited, leaving out Studs' comments after he says "...pretty much your song and your spoken word go hand in hand...or hand on string." (link for full tape below) Here's the portion that was edited out:

    "We should point out that this is Friday morning and Bob is at a new place called The Bear, The Bear where L'Aiglon once was...is that right...I think it was. You'll be playing there just Friday night. It was last night, and then...Friday night? No it wasn't. It was just one night. It was last night. However, we hope soon there'll be a concert of Bob's in Chicago."

    (Dylan then plays Bob Dylan's Dream)

    Now, for my evidence and exhibits: :pug:

    Below is an ad for The Bear, indicating that it opened on May 1st. The brief mention in the May 5th newspaper column (also below) claimed that Dylan "opened" the club "midweek," indicating that he did, in fact, appear there on Wednesday. The FM Radio listing for the Terkel "Wax Museum" program on Friday, May 3rd, only says "interviews and music," which may have been the tape of Dylan's appearance on the show.

    To sum up:
    - Wednesday, May 1, 1963: The Dylan-Terkel get-together is taped for later broadcast; Dylan "opens" The Bear that evening, and a seven-song tape of his performance still survives.
    - Friday, May 3, 1963, 10:00 am: First broadcast of the 64-minute Dylan-Terkel recording.

    I'm fairly certain that no one -- I repeat, no one -- else on the face of the earth has given these obscure and trivial matters much of a second thought, but, hey, I love Chicago history, and I like trying to figure out "what really happened." If anyone has comments, hit me. :cool: (By the way: the fancy old mansion-type building that once housed L'Aiglon and The Bear is long gone, and a parking garage occupies the site.)

    I rest my case.
    (A couple more previously-undocumented Chicago shows to come.)


    The Bear, Chicago 4-25-63
    WFMT Radio Studio-Studs Terkel Wax Museum 4-26-63

    Here is the full, original, slightly hissy tape, with the plug for "The Bear" starting at 27:01:

    From the Terkel archives: "1963 May 1. Interview with singer Bob Dylan. T1071"

  2. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Bob Dylan, Chicago, December 27, 1963

    Spring-Summer, 1963: Freewheelin' was released, Peter, Paul & Mary had a huge hit with Blowin' In The Wind, and Dylan played Carnegie Hall, etc., etc.

    In September, this ad appeared:
    When Dylan returned to Chicago at the end of 1963, he didn't play some funky old mansion/restaurant/folk club on the Near North Side, he made it to swanky Orchestra Hall (now known as Symphony Center) right on Michigan Avenue.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    NOTE: This show is not listed at bjorner.com or at bobdylan.com
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  3. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Bob Dylan, Ravinia Music Festival, Highland Park, IL, June 17, 1964


    Again, this show has never been listed in any of the usual places.

    I did find some great first-person accounts of the show at the link below, including an anecdote about Dylan borrowing a Martin guitar from someone in the crowd after he broke a string.

    Dflow likes this.
  4. ash1

    ash1 Forum Resident

    bristol uk
    Thanks, interesting stuff. How about 1965 ? Isn't there a tape from that ?
  5. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    ash1 likes this.
  6. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    As a follow-up to Dylan's Ravinia concert, this columnist apparently taped an interview with him, using excerpts for this piece. The following year, she recycled some of Dylan's comments in another piece she published before his November 1965 Arie Crown show with the Hawks.

    I wonder if anyone still has "The Mary Merryfield Interview" tape(s)? :)
  7. ash1

    ash1 Forum Resident

    bristol uk
    HominyRhodes likes this.
  8. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I should have mentioned that Albert Grossman was also a partner in the Gate of Horn folk club in Chicago. Here's some info, from LiveFix:

    "The venue opened in July 1956 and was located in the basement of the Rice Hotel on the southeast corner of Chicago Avenue and Dearborn Street.

    "My sources say that after Grossman and Brown attended a live folk concert which featured Fleming Brown and Big Bill Broonzy they decided to rent space in a remaining building that had been left vacant ever since the Chicago fire a music venue and this was the beginning of folk history in Chicago.

    "From that moment on and throughout its history, The Gate of Horn saw the likes of Roger McGuinn, Bob Gibson, Odetta, Jo Mapes, Brownie McGhee and the Clancy Brothers.

    "And during its existence, it was a great period in Chicago for folk music because the genre started to rise in popularity and continued to gain more and more appreciation in the main stream popular culture..."


    "Here’s what George Carlin had to say about his experience at the venue as history unfolded right before his eyes: 'There’s a friend of mine named Herb O’Brien who used to be a bartender at the old Gate of Horn and he said that Bob Zimmerman who we now know as Bob Dylan, used to come in there. Allan Ribback told all the bartenders to give Dylan free drinks while he copied down Bob Gibson’s chord changes.'

    DmitriKaramazov likes this.
  9. Jesse Blatt

    Jesse Blatt New Member

    I was an engineer at WFMT from 1960 to 1961 and recorded a number of Studs Terkel's interviews...I was still an avid listener in 1963. One evening I heard an announcement that a new music venue had hoped to open on this night (I don't remember the night) but their liquor license had been delayed so they were inviting folks to come down to their opening with complimentary soft drinks and free entertainment. The venue (I have forgotten the name, but it must have been The Bear) had several levels, each devoted to a different music style: jazz, gospel, and folk. As it turns out, the folk opener was Bob Dylan. I jumped in my car and beat it to the place, but there wasn't much of a crowd. I found myself sitting about 6 feet away from the stage and thoroughly enjoyed Dylan's early songs, sung by the original early Dylan: Blowin' in the wind, Don't think twice, and many others, including Boots of Spanish Leather (before it was released on record). I've often wondered where the heck that place was, and now, thanks to this site, I know.
  10. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    My apologies for not seeing your post sooner. Such great information. You were sure in the right place at the right time.

    I used to listen to Studs' show nearly every day back in the 1980s, when I worked as a shipping clerk and had a radio playing at all times, and I'll bet I heard rebroadcasts of some of the early '60s shows that you worked on. Some of the best radio programs ever done, in my opinion.

    Thanks very much.
  11. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I was very happy to see this article in today's Tribune. Rick Kogan is one of my favorite local writers, and he did a wonderful job here -- Thanks, Rick. :righton:

    Concert Reviews, Album Reviews & Music News - Chicago Tribune »

    {In case of paywall issues, here's the column}

    Wisdom from Bob Dylan
    from his very first stops in Chicago

    By Rick Kogan
    Chicago Tribune

    October 17, 2016, 2:34 PM

    Legend has it that the recent Nobel Prize winner in literature stopped in Chicago on his way from his home in Minnesota to fame in New York City in 1961 — but like a lot of stories that surround this singular and hard-to-pin-down talent, who knows? What we do know for sure is that Bob Dylan was here in 1963.

    We don't know where he stayed. We don't know where or what he ate. But we do know that in the spring of that year, Dylan played a show at a long-gone place called the Bear. This event was noted, after the fact, by a newspaper columnist who referred to Dylan as a "highly interesting 21-year-old folk singer who writes his own songs."

    The precise dates of Dylan's visit are debatable — they are noted differently all over the internet — but there is no doubt that he was here for a couple of days in late April or early May of that year.

    We do know the precise location of the Bear. It was in what had been the L'Aiglon Restaurant at 22 E. Ontario St. (now a parking garage). One of its owners was likely Albert Grossman, a native Chicagoan who had recently become Dylan's manager; another may have been Howard Alk, one of the founders of The Second City.

    I have never met anyone who was there that night or claims to have been. But someone was there with a tape recorder running because many years later (first in 1983), a bootleg version of some of the seven songs Dylan played that Bear night — including "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues," "Talkin' World War III Blues" and "With God on Our Side" — was released.

    In early 1963, Dylan had one album to his credit, the 1962 debut "Bob Dylan," and had recorded his second, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." While he was here — either before or after the Bear show — he sat with Studs Terkel in front of radio microphones for Studs' daily hourlong program, then called the "Wax Museum," on WFMT-FM 98.7. It was a fascinating conversation, one that displays Studs' many (soon to be legendary) gifts as an interviewer as well as Dylan's thoughtful but enigmatic and elusive qualities. Asked a question about his writing, Dylan says, "I don't really go into myself that deep."

    Studs (it never seems right to refer to him as Terkel) introduced his guest by calling him "a young folk poet who you might say looks like Huckleberry Finn, if he lived in the 20th century."

    He says that he is going to "talk with Bob and musically walk with Bob."

    Early on, Dylan tells Studs that "A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall" is not about atomic fallout, even though he wrote the song during the Cuban missile crisis: "No, it's not atomic rain. It's just a hard rain. It isn't the fallout rain. I mean some sort of end that's just gotta happen. ... In the last verse, when I say, 'the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,' that means all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers."

    Studs rolls with that punch. They talk, and Dylan plays, somewhat reluctantly at first ("I'd appreciate it if you could play it off that disc (record) there," he says), such other songs as "Bob Dylan's Dream," "Blowin' in the Wind" and, likely for the first time in public, "Boots of Spanish Leather," which Dylan calls "a love song."

    He also calls his guitar a "tool," and you can listen to the whole amazing thing on YouTube.

    Later that year, after the release of "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," Dylan was of sufficient stature to headline at Orchestra Hall. The date was Dec. 27, and his concert was reviewed by Tribune critic Thomas Willis, who wrote, "Guitar, harmonica, even his nasal, reedy country music voice are subordinate to his message, but nonetheless capable. Like the best of his contemporaries his onstage candor is complete. Unlike most of them, he speaks his own message. It is not a happy one, but it is necessary."

    Dylan would come back to headline at Ravinia on June 17, 1964. After the performance, he sat backstage with a Tribune columnist named Mary Merryfield, who wrote about such topics as the Girl Scouts and senior citizens. Though there is something rather schoolmarmish about the photo that accompanied her column, there is nothing demure about her attitude. She once said, expressing a philosophy that Dylan would have surely understood and appreciated, "The trouble with people today is that they wear masks. Once you get through to them, they love to talk honestly to you."

    She seems to have gotten through to Dylan, and he to her.

    She began this particular column writing, "Mother, dad, and all you adults who are concerned about not understanding young people and worried about the times in which we live — I have a message for you. Read or listen to the songs that Bob Dylan, folk singer, writes and sings. If you do, I think you'll dig him — just as nearly 4,000 young people did ... at Ravinia. Those high school and college kids seemed to be part of him — or he of them. I only wished, and wished, that more parents had been there."

    Her hourlong interview tape no longer exists but for the excerpts in her column in which Dylan said, "I know there are no answers. I'm just interested in what's happening, what's really happening."

    And, Dylan said, "When individual people fight, they fight for phony reasons sometimes — all the time I guess."

    And Dylan said, "Youth has a better chance today than ever before. That is, greater numbers have a better chance than ever. And it's because of the parents and grandparents and their pioneering spirit that have come before. You just don't profit off your own mistakes. Others do. Like the bomb will be a big bore for my kids someday. Because it will be totally gone by then."

  12. Mike McCandless

    Mike McCandless New Member

    Chicago, IL
    I was at the 12/27/63 concert at Orchestra Hall, my first of five Dylan concerts. Why is a record of this concert so hard to find? I remember it for his blue jeans and jeans jacket and all-acoustic performance. Coming five weeks after the JFK assassination, it was a strong palliative for my traumatized spirit.
    HominyRhodes likes this.
  13. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks for that. Very interesting to hear that you were there at Orchestra Hall, and I'm sure it was a heavy experience, so soon after JFKs death.

    Chances are now slim that we'll ever hear an actual tape of the concert, but never say never. Here's a partial list of the songs he played, according to the Thomas Willis review in the Tribune; hope it jibes with your memory. (Did he sing Blowin' In The Wind, too? Mr. Willis is unclear about that.)

    The Times They Are A-Changin'
    Ballad Of Hollis Brown
    Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues
    Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues
    Walls Of Red Wing
    Who Killed Davey Moore?
    Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
    A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
    Talking World War III Blues
    With God On Our Side
    The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
    Restless Farewell

    Here are re-postings of the newspaper ad and the review of the show, both of which disappeared above thanks to the wicked 'photobouquet' debacle.


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