Eric von Schmidt (Stephen Fenerjian)

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in REC.MUSIC.DYLAN, Oct 4, 1996:

Subject: Eric Von Schmidt

This past Sunday, the Boston Globe Magazine, an insert in their huge Sunday Globe, had an article on Eric Von Schmidt. he seems quite the interesting guy. There was a doubly relevant portion which I have reproduced below as best I can. The article talks about how Eric and Bob met:

The combination of musical experimentation and outlaw persona made Von Schmidt a role model for a new kid named Bob Dylan, who came to Cambridge on a visit from New York. The pair drove around town trading harmonica licks, then moved on to an afternoon of croquet. "Dylan playing croquet under the influence of half a bottle of red wine and some grass was really hilarious," Von Schmidt says. "He couldn't hit the ball with the mallet half the time, and the great thing about it was that he just kind of gloried in it. It was a wonderful meeting, and he ended up at my apartment, and I sang him a bunch of songs, and, with that spongelike mind of his, he remembered almost all of them when he got back to New York."

A few months later, the first Dylan album came out. Over the guitar introduction to "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down," which Von Schmidt had adapted from a Blind Boy Fuller tune, Dylan told of meeting Von Schmidt "in the green pastures of Harvard University." It was not the last tribute, either: On the cover of Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan is shown sitting beside a copy of Von Schmidt's first album.

Of such small things is history made. Von Schmidt cheerfully agrees that, these days, more people know him from the Dylan references than from his own work.

Boston Globe Magazine, 29 Sep 1996

Of course we had heard about Eric Von Schmidt for many years. The name itself had become a password. Eventually, after standing in line to meet him, there it was -- his doorstep, a rainy day, and he greeted his visitors, inviting them in. He was told how much they liked Grizzly Bear and he then invited the whole bunch to the club, where he was about to perform the thing live. "C'mon down to the club" he said -- "I'm about to perform it live."

We accepted the invitation. And that is what his record is. An invitation. An invitation to the glad, mad, sad, biting, exciting, frightening, crabby, happy, enlightening, hugging, chugging world of Eric Von Schmidt. For here is a man who can sing the bird off the wire and the rubber off the tire. He can separate the men from the boys and the note from the noises. The bridle from the saddle and the cow from the cattle. He can play the tune of the moon. The why of the sky and the commotion from the ocean. Yes he can.

Sticker for Eric Von Schmidt's 1972 Poppy album "2nd Right 3rd Row"


(and Richard "Dick" Farina...):

Well, as I remember it, the people that were playing were von Schmidt, Farina, Ethan Signer and Bob Dylan... I sang choruses on some of the things -- I definitely sang on 'Glory Glory' -- but I can't make any claims to fame...

There was the tape-recorder, sitting on the shop counter, and just one microphone, into which everyone in the room had to sing and play. We were all so primitive that everything was done pretty much in one take...

What happened was that Richard and Eric von Schmidt were there first and they recorded a blues... then Signer turned up... and then, about two tunes later, that's when Dylan came in with the bottles of Guinness... but he didn't have an opener... Then Rick von Schmidt handed Dylan an already opened bottle of Guinness, and Dylan took it up to his mouth, took a swig, pulled a face and said, My God what is this? And then he tipped the rest of it on the floor...

Doug [Dobell] didn't like his shop floor being messed up... But after that, it seemed to calm down and there was just a lot of playing and drinking. Basically that was it. It was just a one-off that we did and nobody thought it would ever come to anything...

Ron Gould Interview by Brian Wells, The Telegraph No. 49, Summer 1994, pp. 8-14.

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