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1960-1969: New York Explodes
The Gaslight in 1962
Where lefties strummed guitars, and Bob blew in.

Folk music was played here, but not by jus’ folks. It arrived as post-WWII politics via Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie, who wrote THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS on his guitar. Then came a thousand funkless strummers in work shirts and pleated skirts. Except there was Bob, too big for little wooden guitars and black-lung sloganeering by college students, verging toward what would become “that thin wild mercury sound.” In the spring of 1961, he played poker in the back room of the Gaslight with Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton, Happy Traum, and the rest of the urban rustics, making up songs like “Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Disaster Blues” and swapping fabricated stories of “hard travelin’.” By 1962, it was Gerdes and “Blowing in the Wind.” “Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is,” he said. “But oh, I don’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper, it got to come down some time . . .”

Photo: From John Cohen's Young Bob, John Cohen's Early Photographs of Bob Dylan, Powerhouse Books, 2003