The Who knew

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Who knew

Updated March 06, 2014 – 09:17 am

...when they sang "Won't Get Fooled Again!"

First off, I acknowledge that I did it to myself... I'd spotted a 30-minute show on the cable program guide announcing simply "Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Peter, Paul and Mary."

(The time slot, 4:00 am, shoulda been a clue.)

The pulse quickened... for 50 years come this Fall, I've been looking for a black & white performance given by Bob Dylan of "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" one Sunday afternoon on, I believe, WOR-TV, New York's Channel 9.

(Upon reflection, it could also have been WNDT1, Channel 13.)

I was channel-surfing2 and heard the distinct acoustic guitar accompanyment and voice. The image seemed to be the camera panning slowly up from the boots of a life-size cut-out of the singer as the song progressed.

It wasn't 'til it went past the skinny black chinos onto the guitar that there was any sign of motion... albeit minimal... of his right hand picking at the strings.

Great Gawd Almighty! It was Bob Dylan himself, in the TV studio itself! I was mesmerized.

And then the performance concluded, and the program went on to something else... no "Thanks, Bob," or comment by the host... there was no host!

That's all I remember of it, and I've been looking for a copy of it ever since.

(Thought I'd tracked it down once, but while the Quest kinescope was the right time period, "Hollis Brown" was missing.)

Back the here and now...

The next morning, like a kid at Christmas, I raced down­stairs to see what the DVR had recorded, only to learn that it was an 11-year-old half-hour infomercial for a Time-Life (Ack! Pfffui!) collection entitled "The Folk Years!"

Yes, there was some Dylan ("Boots of Spanish Leather"), but his only other representation was through covers by The Turtles, The Band, The Kington Trio, Sonny & Cher, Johnny Cash plus the aforementioned The Byrds and PP&M.

Given the frequent dropped name and use of Dylan's image throughout the infomercial, Time-Life can legitimately be ac­cused of the ol' "bait 'n' switch" scam!

Then there's the questionable inclusion of some of the artists under the "Folk" or "Folk-Rock" rubric... John Denver and The Seekers, okay, but Bobby Darin, The Cyrkle, The Everly Brothers, Gale Garnett, Trini Lopez, Glen Campbell, Harry Belafonte, Bobbie Gentry, José Feliciano3 and a solo Cher?

I don't think so!

They can claim it's just "marketing;" I call it fraud!

Don't be fooled again... or in the first place!

Notes on "Quest"

The 30-minute show where I found the six Dylan songs linked above ran on CBC-TV between January 1961 and May 1964, and was a free-form anthology of dramatic, documentary and musical productions.

Aside from Dylan's appearance on February 1, 1964, other shows spotlighted musical performers as diverse as Charlie Mingus, Theodore Bikel, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, the Wray Downes Trio and the Double Six of Paris.

Addendum

Old friend and OtBB regular "Hampton West" found what I had been unable to track down:

Still no clarification on which New York City television station we might have seen it 50 years ago, so I consulted with former Westhampton Beach Mayor Arma E' "Ham" Andon who worked for Westinghouse/Group W at that time.

He confirmed that while the company owned and operated TV stations in cities such as Baltimore and Pittsburgh, they had nothing in NYC.

Conclusion: that Dylan performance was part of a syndi­cated show, and unless someone comes up with anything more solid, it probably was broadcast over Channel 9, then simply WOR-TV.

Notes
  1. Callsign WNET since October 1970.
  2. Turning a manual dial, of course.
  3. Covering The Doors' "Light My Fire," no less!

Comments

1. Hampton West said...

Wow, pretty obscure stuff!

Was Channel 13 you mention from Newark before it became public TV? I recall watching an R&B show called "Jocko" that I think was on Channel 13 in the late 1950's. It came on after Dick Clark was done and Alan Freed was winding up.

Now CBC TV that you reference, is that the Canadian Broadcast System?

I actually vaguely recall seeing what might be the same Dylan performance, it was Holis Brown and I recall the skinny leg jeans - can't really recall when I saw it or where - I'll dig around.

Upon information and belief, Newark was always Newark's City of License, going live in 1948 as WATV, a commercial station.

I remember "Jocko," Douglas Henderson, who started in Philly, but 50 years ago had found his way to NYC and WADO, 1280 AM, as well as his signature rap: "This is Jocko, radio ADO, back on the scene with the record machine; the time is now 6:18! Back, you big bad rocket ship!" He had it all over Alan Freed and Murray the K, primarily because of the music he played!
– Dean

2. Hampton West said...

Try this: Bob Dylan - Westinghouse TV Special (1963). Says "Westinghouse network 1963." I think that was Channel 9.

Brilliant find! Your Google-foo far exceeds mine!

I don't think Westinghouse, or "Group W" as it was just then being branded, had a New York station, but probably syndicated that program here. I'll ask Ham Andon, who worked for them back then.

Thanks! It's just as I remember it!
– Dean

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