We first met Dylan in the Village. Noel was the friendliest with him initially. He and I were somewhat friendly. At a certain point I felt sorry for him. He was in the city and it was hot, and my mother had a little country home in Woodstock, and I invited him to come up with his girlfriend. This was before Albert [Grossman] was in Woodstock.
I remember Albert asking me if I thought he should manage Dylan. We were walking in the Village, and I said, "Yeah, I think so."
And Albert said, ''Yeah. I think so, too. He's too good not to happen.''
You know, in the beginning, Bobby was a Woody Guthrie imitator. He did not have his own identity. Albert really shepherded him through those early years.
I remember Bobby's first concert at Town Hall. There was a party at my mother's house afterwards. My mother didn't know what was going on. At the party, she asked the scruffiest kid she could find to go out and get more ice. Of course, that was Bobby. He answered my mother by asking her to marry him.
Joe Smith, Off The Record, London, 1989, pp. 162-163.
Noel Stookey gave me the idea for the "Bear Mountain Song" I wrote it overnight but I wasn't there. Never sing it the same way twice because I never wrote it down.
Folklore Center flier, Oct-Nov 1961.
The song had its origins in the pages of the New York Herald Tribune of June 19 . Dylan was sitting in the Gaslight with Noel Stookey who was just about to become Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary.
"Want to hear something funny?" Stookey asked.
A Harlem social club had chartered the Hudson Belle, for a Father's Day cruise up the Hudson to Bear Mountain. As the picnickers were crowding the pier... rumors (later confirmed) spread that about a thousand counterfeit tickets had been sold around town and that those families with fake tickets would not be permitted aboard. The boat docked a couple of hours late and there was a mad scramble to get aboard and a good deal of panic and fighting on all three decks. The cruise was called off and about a dozen people were taken to a hospital for treatment of their injuries. Dylan sat... with the story before him and quickly wrote his own version.
Anthony Scaduto, Bob Dylan, London 1973, pp. 80-81.
It was Bobby Dylan's writing that put us on another level. A big controversy started when Albert [Grossman] brought in the acetate of Bobby's new solos. Albert thought the big song was "Don't Think Twice." That, he said, was the hit. We went crazy over "Blowing in the Wind."
We went into the studio and released "Blowing in the Wind" as a single. We didn't wait for an album, we just put it out. Instinctively, we knew the song carried the moment of its own time.
If I had to pick one song, my softest spot, it would be "Blowing in the Wind." If you could imagine the March on Washington with Martin Luther King and singing that song in front of a quarter of a million people, black and white, who believed they could make America more generous and compassionate in a nonviolent way, you begin to know how incredible that belief was.
And still is. To sing the line, "How many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free?" in front of some crummy little building that refuses to admit Jews in 1983, the song elicits the same response now as it did then. It adresses the same questions. "How many deaths will it take till they know that too many people have died?" Sing that line in a prison yard where political prisoners from El Salvador are being kept. Or sing it with Bishop Tu Tu. Same response. Same questions.
Joe Smith, Off The Record, London, 1989, pp. 161-162.
EXCERPT FROM JOHN COURT'S LINER NOTES (1965):
And as for the married Mary, she's as merry a married Mary as might be. In those big blue eyes we see reflected the vamp of an elfin daughter. Inquisitive Erika is the shortcake in mother's lavish diet, talking now, always and too well, with so many smart things that one hardly noticed the reckless tempo his attention must meet. Tricks taught by mother, some perhaps inadvertently, but all with a big spontaneous heart hiding in a blonde that breaks them all. Mother also knows the tricks of interior decorating; and a recent change in mood has made a recent change in living- room, an all-too-little-lived-in space anyway. Which space sometimes contains Mary's mister, Barry, that moustacheod devil who takes all these hip pictures. A word-and-picture book on which our clever brush collaborated with Bob Dylan appears in the fall of this year.
EXCERPTS FROM LINER NOTES (BOOKLET):
I think the beginning of it was really Bob Dylan. We were in the Gate of Horn in Chicago and a demo was played in the bar downstairs of "Blowing In The Wind" and we just flipped. We talked about doing it and I remember, all of a sudden, an idea for an arrangement came to me. I walked into rehearsal with it in Mary's apartment and everybody went for it. That was the first time we ever made a song that was just a single. Before that, our singles were songs out of albums and they were successful. But with this one, we ran into the studio with this attitude: "We don't really care whether this thing is a hit or not. We just want it to come out and be available."
What was important about "Blowing In The Wind" was that even though "If I Had A Hammer" preceded it, it somehow became the first of the so-called protest songs. Everybody made a big thing out of that, but it was really an affirmation song. It was a song of caring and commitment and it was hopeful. And it wasn't about teen-age dating behavior. Popular music sure has changed since then...
There were people who were actually outraged at the change because, at one time, there was a battle between the purists and the urban folk singers. And one of the things the Beatles did was to wash away that snobbery. It used to be that music was somehow divisible into higher and lower planes of validity. That's all changed but, in the beginning, there were a lot of people who accused us of copping out. My answer was, "Look, we have to grow. If we keep singing in one particular way, we'll simply atrophy -- emotionally and artistically."
The big argument of the purist was always, "Keep things as they are-as they were." Which is an impossibility. You can't stop time and you can't stop people from learning and feeling. You'd really have to isolate yourself to do that.