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Part of Dylan's magnetism lies in the fact that he is not the slightest bit afraid of falling flat on his face. If he gets an idea for a song or a story, he does it on the spot without worrying about whether it will come out exactly polished and right. There's a sense of "what's he going to do next?"

Whatever comes, it is often as much a surprise to the performer as to the audience. Harry Jackson, cowboy singer, painter and sculptor, summed up a Dylan performance rather graphically one night: "He's so goddam real, it's unbelievable."

Gil Turner, "Bob Dylan -- a new voice singing new songs," Sing Out!, Oct-Nov 1962; reprinted in Elizabeth M. Thomson & David Gutman, The Dylan Companion, London, 1990, p. 63.


One of my favorite memories of Folk City is the night I brought in and introduced a cowboy singer who was better known as an artist. He's a very famous artist now, living in Wyoming. His name is Harry Jackson, a very excellent western artist and sculptor. He was also a very accomplished cowboy singer. I brought Harry on stage one evening and the audience was into their usual high murmur, and Harry wanted their attention before he started to sing. The audience quieted down momentarily and Harry seized the moment and started his cowboy song. Well, he got about two thirds of the way through and the murmur started up again. He said, "Well... ar... ar... ah... I ah... shucks... you know... I mean... doggone it... what I mean is... a fella gets up to sing a song, he's got something to say and it's good. A lot of you are just drinkin' and talkin' and it's kinda hard to hear, and a fella wants to sing and ah... doggone it, shut up!"

That shut them up. There was a dead silence in Gerdes like you never heard before. After a couple of songs the crowd started up again. You couldn't keep those drunks quiet. It was one of the finest moments in the annals of Folk City performances. Harry never went out professionally on stage after that.

Robbie Woliver, Hoot! A 25-Year History of the Greenwich Village Music Scene, St. Martin's Press, 1986, p. 21.

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