Sunday, April 21, 2019

"Go Away Bomb:"---Dylan Writes A Song for Izzy Young

The early Cold War was a pretty scary time for American civilians who were being bombarded with messages about a potential impending atomic holocaust. Death by means of The Bomb was a very real possibility in the back of many of our minds. Books like Nevil Shute's On The Beach and films like Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove kept the notion alive.

Many ordinary people, like my cousins' family in Cleveland, built bomb shelters in their homes, stockpiling food and water. Schoolchildren everywhere were trained in what to do in the event of a nuclear war, much the same as we practiced fire drills.

Mad Magazine, a staple in many households, had a cartoon series called Spy vs. Spy which also played off this cold war theme. To a certain extent few of us were untouched, including a young Bob Dylan, who translated our shared anxiety into language that resonated with us.

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"Go Away Bomb" MSS original. Notation upper right by Izzy Young.
From the Bill Pagel Archive, courtesy Bill Pagel
One of the items on display at Karpeles Manuscript Museum Library during Duluth Dylan Fest this coming month is an original manuscript which Dylan wrote for and at the request of Israel "Izzy" Young, who owned a music store called the Folklore Center. This original document from the Bill Pagel collection is one of numerous rare and unique items from the Pagel Archive that will be on view through much of the summer here.

When the young Bob Dylan arrived in New York in 1961, his first destination was Greenwich Village. Izzy Young's Folklore Center, at 110 MacDougal Street, became one of his haunts. He would often hang around the store listening to Izzy's records and writing songs. In his Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan wrote this about the Foklore Center: “The place had an antique grace. It was like an ancient chapel, like a shoebox-sized institute.”

Side 2. "Go Away Bomb"
Young asked Dylan to write a song for an anti-atomic bomb songbook Izzy hoped to put together. Though Izzy never put out the songbook, he did hang on to this early unreleased Dylan manuscript for over 50 years before parting with it. Izzy Young himself wrote the notation in the upper right corner of the manuscript, “1963 Bob Dylan wrote this when I asked him to do a song for a bomb song book.” Dylan delivered the song the day after he was asked to write it, according to Young.

The song stays within the realm of the social movement and our nation's shared fears about nuclear war during the early 1960’s. Dylan’s songs “Let Me Die In My Footsteps,” “Masters of War,” “Talkin’ World War III Blues” as well as “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” all reflect this same theme.

In addition to the manuscript Bill Pagel is including two photos of Izzy Young at the Folklore Center  from those early Greenwich Village days.

About Izzy.
Izzy Young, circa 1980. Photo source: Library of Congress.
Israel Goodman Young (March 26, 1928 – February 4, 2019) was a noted figure in the world of folk music, both in America and Sweden. He was owner of the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village and, after moving to Stockholm in 1973, also opened and operated the Folklore Centrum store there. Izzy organized the first New York concert by Bob Dylan and devoted decades of his life supporting folk music.

When a teenage Bob Dylan arrived in New York in the winter of 1961, Young became something of a mentor for him.

Young’s music store, which doubled as a small performance space, had a small back room where Dylan plinked out songs on an old typewriter. Young was struck by Dylan’s ability to absorb everything he heard, but was otherwise unimpressed. “Then he began writing those great songs and I realized he was really something.”

EdNote: The info here about the late Izzy Young and his Folklore Center was stitched together from Mr. Young's obituary in the New York Times and Nicole Saylor's Blog Post for the Library of Congress.

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Related Links & Sources
Izzy Young Obituary, NY Times
Izzy Young's Folklore Center (Nicole Saylor)
2019 Duluth Dylan Fest Schedule
Hibbing Dylan Project
A Bob Dylan Timeline (at New Pony)
Spy Vs. Spy


Wolf Krakowski said...

For some time in the mid-Seventies, in the city of Toronto, I was employed as a painter/carpenter by the author Jane Jacobs, who had left the United States during the Viet Nam War. I had become friendly with one of her sons. In her spacious Victorian on Albany Avenue in the Annex, I would do my work and Jane would write. And then she would prepare lunch and converse.
This is a good a place as any to share this story:
When living in the West Village, Jane had put out the word that she was looking to commission a song for her movement to stop the planned expressway that would have cut through Greenwich Village. Someone directed young Bob Dylan, newly-arrived in New York, to Jane's apartment. She described him as anxious, fidgety, troubled and homeless. He asked questions.
She never did say if he came up with the song.

Grant said...

Very cool story Wolf! I'd love to hear more!

Unknown said...

I purchased my 1968 D-28 from Izzie Young. His best line as a salesperson was to tell the customer that Dylan had come by looking for a new guitar and that he had spent some time playing on that very guitar. You had to love him. As a young teacher, Izzie would sell me kazoos at cost.

Ed Newman said...

Thanks for the story Wolf. Sounds consistent with other stories we've heard.
Best 2U